The passage before us can only be understood if we back up and review its historical backdrop. Isaiah was the prophet of the Lord to the nation Judah and her capital, Jerusalem, from 740 to 680 B.C. He was one of God's great voices during the reigns of four Kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
God had blessed Jerusalem and Judah with a good king in Uzziah. He was a capable and able king who led his people in the right way and who constantly sought God. When Uzziah died, his son Jotham took over. He was a good king also, following in his father's footsteps. The Bible says of him that he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord and even built the high gate of the house of the Lord.
But when Jotham died, a son of the harem ascended the throne. Influenced by an inept and evil mother, he cared not for the things of God. He followed the old ways of idolatry and spiritual whoredom. He burned incense to Baal and Molech in the valley of Hinnom. There in the valley of Hinnom, Ahaz would take his children, place them in a bronze statue with the form of a human but the head of an ox. Fire was set from below and the children were consumed in a inexplicable display of horrid idolatry. Drums were pounded ceaselessly so as to drown out the cry of these little ones. Ahaz sought the help of the Assyrian tyrant and murder, Tiglath-Pileser III. Rather than trust the Lord God, Ahaz trusted the winged bull regime of the east. Isaiah called for Ahaz to trust the Lord and He would reveal His power to Ahaz at any sign he would name. But the hypocritical king of Judah scoffed at the prophet's appeal and later paid an inexorable price, both spiritually and politically!
So Isaiah's heart is broken. His passion for his city of Jerusalem and his nation Judah was unquenchable. As Athens was to Socrates, as Rome was to Caesar, as Florence was to Dante, so Jerusalem was to Isaiah. A careful reading of the whole book of Isaiah reveals such a burden from Isaiah's heart that had it not been for the Holy Spirit, he could not have verbalized it. That is where I am today. My heart breaks for America. I have not lived as long as some of you. But in my short time here on this earth, I have observed with great despair an overall unraveling of the social and moral fabric that has formed this great democratic garment called America. As Isaiah pleaded for his nation, so I plead for mine. As Isaiah called upon the kingship to return to God, so I call upon our presidential administration to return to the God Who gave us our country.
Let's notice four main elements of Isaiah's message in this passage:
I. A FOUNDATIONAL DEPRIVATION (vv. 1-3).
God said if the nation would not follow Him, then He would simply deprive them of the blessings a nation so desperately needs. He would deprive them of:
A. The Stay and the Staff (v. 1). This literally means Sustenance and the Support. For Judah, it meant food, water, and the basics every country needs to survive. By implication it could also mean finances. America is Fiscally unsound. Operating at a deficit in the Trillion dollar range. We use the words millions, billions, and trillions as if they mean nothing at all. What's the difference between a million and billion dollars. 1 million dollars= $1,000 bills @ 6 inches high; 1 billion dollars= $1,000 bills stacked 500 feet high. 1 trillion dollars= 94.7 miles high.
B. The Grass roots kinds of people who are so very vital to a country (vv. 2-3). We need the mighty men and the generals, the prophets and the wise, the young and the aged. We need the upper class, the middle class, and the lower class. We need the administrator and the laborer. We need the captain of fifty and the honorable private.
II. A FOOLISH DIRECTION (vv. 4-8). The leaders would be known by the following characteristic. They had:
A. No Mature Direction (v. 4).
B. No Social Appreciation (v. 5).
C. No Legitimate Qualifications (v. 6).
D. No Effective Solutions (v. 7).
III. A FATAL DETERMINATION (v. 9). The ultimate sign of a failing society cannot be measured in monetary, political, governmental, or societal terms: it is measured in moral and spiritual appraisals. Here, the Lord condemns Judah for their provocations against God as they celebrate their sin. In particular, God calls into account the flagrant display of sin like Sodom.
Note carefully Romans 1:18-27.
IV. A FINAL DECLARATION (vv. 10-15).
A. The Bad News (vv. 11-15).