ISAIAH 4:1 – 6:13 and TITUS 1:1–16
The first verse is a continuation of the same theme from chapter 3. It speaks of being under a covering. We understand the damage that can be done when a wife operates outside the covering of her husband. There is protection when we have a proper covering over our lives. The separation that was evident in the garden between Adam and Eve should have never taken place. This opened Eve to be taken in and seduced by the serpent. It is true also in the Spiritual sense regarding a church. There are many churches that seek to operate independently outside the framework of the body of Christ. In the days of Isaiah there was a literal ratio of 7 women for every one man; this was the plight of the daughters of Zion. They wanted to be married so that their reproach would be taken away; to be called by their own name and to be known by their own apparel (covering). This same problem of submission is prevalent worldwide. Strong women who seek to operate independently are often the product of weak men who do not take on their rightful responsibility. Let us never forget the marriage standard that was given by Paul to the Ephesians (Eph 5:25-27).
One of the titles given to the Lord is that of the Branch (Zech 6:12). This is a prophetic statement being made concerning Israel during the millennium. The Branch here does speak of the Lord and of the fruit of righteousness that will be evident. Those who are a part of this remnant are referred to next in verse 3. The thought throughout this verse is that of holiness. God desires a holy people and it is achievable as we learn to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). We are commanded to “be holy even as he is holy” (Lev 11:44, 1 Pet 1:15-16). The mandate given to the husband is that he presents his wife “holy” before the Lord (Eph 5:27).
How does holiness come about? It is through the Spirit of burning and the spirit of judgment as seen in verse 4. There is a work of grace that is done in the life of a believer. The problem is that many Christians do not make allowance for this work to be done. They cover up, excuse or choose an easier doctrine which leaves them “ill prepared” for that which is to come. When God is moving in an extraordinary way we better be sure that our lives as leaders are in order. The judgements of God are awesome in the midst of revival. Do you remember what God did to Israel due to the sin of Achan (Jos 7)? Do you remember what happened when Ananias and Saphira lied to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5)? Who will be able to stand in that day; who will be able to endure the refiner’s fire? It is best to be open and allow the Lord to do that introspective work in our lives today. The glory of the Lord will shine on every dwelling place of Mt. Zion with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of smoke by day. This is the guidance that God used in leading Israel through their wilderness journey. It will be those who have Zion birthed within them that will be able to be a light and guide to others in the days to come. There will be safety in the church in the last days. In the midst of gross darkness there will be a light that will shine brightly; a glory that will shine that will bring many into the church. The true church, the church that has the Lord as its covering will be a shelter, guide and place of comfort in troublous times. Isaiah is speaking concerning the captivity to come but his message has greater relevance for the end times.
Whenever you see a vineyard mentioned in scripture it usually has reference to Israel. God took Israel in much the same way he takes a new-born babe in Christ and fences it in while gathering out the stones and obstructions. He then builds a tower in the midst suggesting there needs to be vigilance in the looking after of this tender plant. The tender grape that brings forth its fruit must go through a purifying process. A good wine is the result of a grape that has been filtered many times over so as to remove any sediment that would leave a distasteful flavour. This is also true in the life of a believer. Many choose not to be poured out from vessel to vessel. The result is that their scent and taste remains.
Jer 48:11 Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.
In verses 3-4 the Lord asks the question as to what more He could have done for Israel. He gave them every advantage and warned them continuously but they would not appreciate His blessing or learn from their experiences. In verses 5-6 we see the consequences of their disobedience as the Lord now shares as to what He will do. The hedge of God’s protection is broken down and taken away which opens the door for all kinds of spiritual activity. In verse 7 Isaiah is clearly identifying Israel as the object of this allegory. There are several judgements that are now about to be pronounced upon Israel. We see the judgements and the reasons for them.
In verses 8-10 we see Israel continuously adding unto their possessions. The consequence is that the Lord is going to judge their harvests that they have taken for granted. In verses 11-12 we see an indictment upon those who are given to drunkenness; those who like to party and have a good time. This is an abomination to the Lord and we must not forget that it is a judgement the Lord speaks of in the Gospels as He speaks of the days of Noah (Math 24:15). Remember, the events surround King Belshazzar’s feast? The similarities are all too plain to see today. The handwriting is on the wall but who is giving heed? In verse 13 we see the consequence of their sin by being led into captivity. The prophet further adds that hell awaits those who lightly regard this life and give no concern for eternity. In verses 18-19 we see a judgement upon those who mock the existence of God. It is so easy to boast and make a mockery when you have your health and an audience that laughs alongside you. One can feel on top of the world one day with a sense of invincibility only to lose their life and be damned for eternity. Today there are many mockers and scoffers who dispute the existence of God; they are to be pitied if they do not come to the place of repentance. The remedy is to always seek to walk in humility, to walk humbly before our God (Mic 6:8).
In verse 20 we have an indictment of those who call evil good and good evil. Yes, this is a church problem as we see the ways and Laws of God being redefined right before our eyes. There is so much tolerated sin that is evident in today’s churches. This has always been one of the plagues concerning Israel. Paul even speaks concerning this as how the truth of God can be refashioned into a lie (Rom 1:25). The consequences for this evil are the giving over to a reprobate spirit. It speaks of those who choose to not retain God in their knowledge Rom 1:28). What a terrible indictment upon a people and nation who were blessed with so much. In verse 21 there is the indictment upon those who are wise in their own eyes. Paul addressed this issue with the Corinthian Church in 1 Cor 3:18-19. His counsel to them was that they would become fools so as to be wise. In verse 22-23 we see strong drink being referenced once again. The judgement becomes so perverted that the wicked are rewarded while the just are deprived of righteous judgement. The Lord’s anger is kindled against those who indulge in this sin; it is a people who have discarded the law while despising the law giver Himself vs 24-25). This is such a sad testimony to the beautiful vineyard that the Lord planted in speaking of Israel. Instead of bringing forth sweet fruits it was sour and bitter. They refused the dealings and the process of the Lord working in their lives. The result was a broken down hedge which opened the door for all kinds of evil to come in. It is not just a picture of Israel, it is a picture of a large portion of today’s church.
This is a beautiful chapter that has many messages attached to it. One of the primary themes is that of holiness. Isaiah had this revelation at the time of King Uzziah’s death. His reign was one that brought security even in the midst of many surrounding enemies. God allowed Isaiah to have a revelation of the throne room of God. What did he see? He saw the Lord high and lifted up and His glory filling the temple. In addition, he saw seraphim’s around the throne who were crying out holy, holy is the Lord of hosts (vs 2-3). In short, Isaiah had a revelation of the glory and holiness of God. At the same time, he had a revelation of himself which proved to be sobering. In verse 5 he saw Himself as undone and unclean before the presence of a Holy God. The particular area he took note of was the uncleanness of his lips. Here was Isaiah in the presence of the Holy God. What did he do? Did he run and hide? Is this not what Adam did when the presence of God came into the garden after he sinned against God? He covered himself and his transgression with fig leaves and then hid from the presence of God as He drew near. Is this not what many of us do when the subject of holiness is brought up?
Why is this message offensive to many? It is because it brings a person to the place of having to deal with Truth. It can be a revelation that cuts to the heart of who we really are. What do we do with Truth? Do we acknowledge it, and then seek to come before the throne of grace for remedy (Heb 4:16)? What did Moses do when he stood in the presence of a Holy God? Did he run away and hide or seek to excuse himself from this encounter? It is interesting with Moses because it was a “defining moment” a time and season that suddenly came upon him. I like to call it a “turning aside moment”. Moses seemed to be carrying through a typical day when he suddenly saw the spectacle of a bush on fire yet not being consumed (Exo 4:3). Moses then heard a voice saying that he was on holy ground. What happened in that moment? Moses heard the heartbeat of God (Exo 3:4-9). God shared His burden for Israel and that the time had come for Israel to be set free from their bondage. He also received the commissioning of God in verse 10. God was going to deliver Israel through Moses.
This backdrop helps us to understand the sequence of events with Isaiah. It’s a moment where he has a revelation of the glory of God and His holiness while having a revelation of himself. Isaiah sees himself as undone in addition to having an awareness of his unclean lips. His response was not to run away but to acknowledge the Truth. In embracing the Truth, he was able to have this iniquity purged out of him (vs 6-7) The message of holiness is what helped to bring an awareness of this malady to Isaiah. It is in the presence of the Holy God where sin and latent areas of iniquity come alive. It is not to condemn us but to convict us so that we take the opportunity to avail of God’s grace. This is “Divine Exchange”. This is what Paul was conveying in Romans 7 when he speaks of how the Law brings to life the issue of sin. The question is what do we do with that Revelation? What did the children of Israel do with the revelation of God’s Law when he thundered atop Mt. Sinai? They stood afar and left it to Moses to speak to God. It was here where they forfeited the role of the priesthood with the exception of Levi later on.
Exo 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
The above verse is after the last of the 10 commandments have been given to Moses. The law proved offensive to Israel and it still proves offensive to many today. Isaiah came to know a moment of Divine exchange. In the presence of the Holy God he was changed. The Lord took his lips of iniquity, purged them and began to use them to speak the pure Word of God to the people. This is but one of the processes that a true prophet of God goes through. This is a vital period in Israel’s history and God needed a clear channel to communicate his message. It must be a vessel that is not tainted. Are we willing to allow God to bring us through a similar process? Israel as a nation rejected this process but Isaiah as an individual came to embrace it. This chapter allows us to see the qualifications and credentials of Isaiah that enabled him to be the prophet that he became. He was not just a prophet to Israel and Judah of his day but also a man who had great insight and revelation into the life of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as millennial truths pertaining to the last days. This measure of revelation can only be revealed through those who are intimate with the Holy One. Isaiah sets a very high precedent for each of us to emulate as we approach these last days.
Titus was another one of Paul’s spiritual sons. He is mentioned as one who was highly regarded by Paul in Gal 2:3 and 2 Cor 2:13, 7:6-7. Paul also references Titus positively in 2 Cor 7:13, 15, 8:13 and 12:18. This letter to Titus was written prior to 2 Timothy since that letter represented his last farewell address. Paul had assigned Titus to the island of Crete. The inhabitants of this island did not have a good reputation. They were known for lying, laziness and gluttony among other things (Titus 1:12-13). Remember the Judaizers that Paul had to deal with in Galatia, Ephesus and in other locales? These Judaizers also made their way to Crete resulting in their having a prominent presence among the people. We see that Timothy and Titus were the primary spiritual sons of Paul. Timothy’s primary assignment was to minister at Ephesus while Titus worked in Crete. Paul, before his death wanted to impart final words of counsel, exhortation and instruction to his sons before his departure. We saw Paul’s burden for Timothy expressed in the two letters bearing his name. We will now see Paul’s approach towards Titus in his final words to another one of his dear sons.
In verse 1 Paul established his credentials as an apostle by reason of being of the election by faith. One cannot just assume this title though many do so today. Another key we see concerning Paul is that he was one who had the ability to acknowledge the Truth in his pursuit of godliness (vs 1). Paul also emphasized in his opening remarks to place a high emphasis on things eternal. This is a key for all of us because it helps to keep a proper perspective on day to day matters. This would be especially true for Titus seeing that he was working in a most difficult environment. In verse 5 Paul establishes one of the main reasons why he placed Titus in Crete. He had the responsibility of putting things in order. The God we serve is one of order. John the Baptist came along before Christ so as to “prepare the way” for the coming Messiah. His methods and message were unique but it did help to pave the way for his earthly ministry. One of the ways of establishing order in the midst of chaos is to make sure you place the right people in key positions (vs 5).
The qualifications for these key people (elders) are given in verses 6-9. The family life of an elder must be in order as seen in verse 6. Once again we see the power of a strong family and we see the potential danger of what happens when the home life of a leader is out of alignment. A Bishop must be a man without guile; this means there is nothing in his life that can be leveraged or exploited that would compromise his work or compromise that which he represents. We should always strive to have the kind of testimony that Jesus was able to say about Himself.
Joh 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
The reputation of a quality leader is further upheld by not being a drinker, self-willed, angry and given to the pursuit of riches. Some added qualities of appointed leaders are that they should be given to hospitality, enjoying rich fellowship with good and honourable men who have a passion and zeal for holiness (vs 8). An appointed leader must have a love for the Word of God and have the ability to teach it effectively (vs 9).The key is to have these things in place which will help bring stability and order to any environment. If an impact is going to be made upon an unruly people it has to begin by having the right leader in place. This then is followed by ensuring that the right people are appointed into the key positions. One can understand how the enemy would seek to flesh out and exploit vulnerabilities in these areas of influence. Our homes, positions and reputations must be preserved and guarded by the grace of God,
In verses 10-16 the problem of the Judaizers is brought out. Paul had wrestled with this group throughout his years of ministry so he is familiar with their influence and tactics. Paul also gives the condition of the people in verse 12 by saying that they are liars, evil beasts and slow bellies. This manner of people is ripe for the wiles of the Judaizers. Titus had his work cut out for him but Paul had every confidence that he would be fruitful. The focus is not to be on their condition or the groups who are seeking to exploit them but rather to focus on doing the right things. This means to put the right people in the right positions and to focus on right doctrine and teaching. Paul’s life and ministry consisted of doing these very things in the places he ministered and he is now imparting this same blueprint to another one of his spiritual sons.