Friday, May 25, 2012

Isaiah 1 - Isaiah's Vision

LINK: Isaiah 1

Please read the Introduction to the Prophetical Books if you have not already done so. 

Here is a downloadable document of all the posts:

ISAIAH

BACKGROUND 

Isaiah

Here is where Isaiah fits in our timeline of biblical history: 


2 Chr. 27-32:750-697 (2 Kings 16-20)

                     755-714: HOSEA 1-14 (Northern)

----------------722 ASSYRIAN CAPTIVITY OF ISRAEL (NORTHERN KINGDOM)

2 Chr. 33:      697-640 (2 Kings 21)

                      739-681: ISAIAH 1-66

                      733-701: MICAH 1-7

                      650-620: NAHUM 1-3

As you can see, his prophecies spanned from before the Assyrian captivity of Israel to long afterward. 

Here is another timeline that helps you to see it more visually, but you must scroll down to page 5 in order to see it: 

Timeline for Isaiah 

Isaiah prophesied through the reigns of Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Tradition says that King Manasseh, Hezekiah's successor, had Isaiah sawed in half (Hebrews 11:37), but there is no record of this in Scripture. 

Isaiah's purpose was to call the people of Judah back to their God and to prophesy of a coming Messiah. Remember that Judah is the southern kingdom consisting of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. 

Isaiah's name means "salvation of the Lord" with salvation/deliverance being the key theme of this book. Isaiah 1-39 are words of judgment, but Isaiah 40-66 are words of comfort with the prophecy of a release from captivity, future Redeemer, and coming kingdom. 

Isaiah is a beautiful book containing both poetry and prose. It is obvious that he came from a distinguished Jewish family from the educated, impressive vocabulary. The book is long but well worth it. We will go at a slow and steady pace. If you have never read it, you are in for a real treat. 

Isaiah 1

Isaiah began his prophecy in 739 B.C.; seventeen years before the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians (722 B.C.). So, Isaiah's vision of judgment included both Israel and Judah. The vision is a courtroom scene where God states the charges against his rebellious children (1:2-4) and pronounces the nation guilty (1:5-15). Yet, he gives them an opportunity to repent and be forgiven (1:16-31). 

God's children had broken their covenant with God (Exodus 19-20) through unbelief and idolatry. They were religious, but their hearts were far from God. They were also guilty of murder (1:21), robbery, bribery, and not helping those in need (1:23). Through all of this, God still wanted to "reason" with them which means "to decide a case in court":
"Come now let us reason together,"
Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
This is much like Hosea's plea with Israel in Hosea 10:12.  The prophets would plea, but it was not to be. His people would face a fiery judgment. Despite this, Isaiah ends with a promise that Jerusalem would one day be a "city of righteousness and faithful city" with a righteous remnant (1:26-27).

REFLECTION/APPLICATION 

Part of God's judgment on Israel was their religiosity without true devotion. I found this article about contemporary society very thought-provoking: 
But before passing judgment on worshipers in a bygone era, perhaps we should confess the sins of the “worshiping church” today. According to researcher George Barna, 93 percent of the households in the United States contain a Bible and more than 60 percent of the people surveyed claim to be religious; but we would never know this from the way people act. One Protestant church exists for every 550 adults in America, but does all this “religion” make much of a difference in our sinful society? Organized religion hasn’t affected the nation’s crime rate, the divorce rate, or the kind of “entertainment” seen in movies and on TV. 
The average church allocates about 5 percent of its budget for reaching others with the Gospel, but 30 percent for buildings and maintenance. At a time when the poor and the aged are pleading for help, churches in America are spending approximately 3 billion dollars a year on new construction. Where churches have life and growth, such construction may be needed; but too often the building becomes “a millstone instead of a milestone,” to quote Vance Havner. At least 62 percent of the people Barna surveyed said that the church was not relevant to today’s world and is losing its influence on society. It may be that, like the worshipers in the ancient Jewish temple, we are only going through the motions. (See The Frog in the Kettle by George Barna, published by Regal Books.)  
(Wiersbe, W. W., Be Comforted. An Old Testament Study, Is 1:1)
Are you a religious person or one whose heart is close to the Lord? Does your life influence society for God's glory or does society influence you?

PRAYER

Lord, we want our hearts to be completely Yours. Make our devotion to You overflow in light to the world. Amen. 
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