Summary: Choose between thanksgiving and ingratitude, obedience and rebellion, worship and disrespect, serving self and serving others.
Choices Isa. 1:18-20
INTRO.: The prophet Isaiah wrote about 700 years before the birth of Jesus, yet he is extremely contemporary. You might think he wrote just yesterday the way he describes things in Judah:
All over the world, political conditions were unstable and violent. Power was gained by assassination and terrorism. "Covert operations" and intrigue were commonplace. The world teetered on the brink of war that could be won by no one. Some nations sought to buy the friendship of others by tribute, bribes, and "foreign aid." Some nations blackmailed others so as to have more money to buy weapons and exact more tribute money. Weapons had become a medium of exchange.
Economically, most of the wealth was in the hands of a few who managed to stay rich by exploiting the poor and promoting expensive wars. They enjoyed plush luxury while others starveed and perished for lack of the barest necessities.
Socially, justice belonged to those who could afford it. Judges were for sale. Criminals were free to rob, rape, and murder as long as they are able to bribe a judge or hire an expensive lawyer. Crime is big business and human life was held in low esteem.
Religiously, the real people of God were in a minority and were splintered into exclusive little groups. Millions worshiped pagan deities which offered no moral guidance. Some religious leaders were drunkards and adulterers who raised funds to be used for their own pleasure. There were large groups that practiced witchcraft, spiritism, drug abuse, fornication, and human sacrifice.
Isaiah describes some of these problems but doesn’t dwell on them. His is a book of solutions, not problems. As he presents the solutions to Judah’s problems, he sets forth principles that would solve all our national and personal problems if we read and heed.
Isaiah calls upon his readers to repent and turn back to God for deliverance from their sins and their enemies. He warns of judgement but he also sounds a note of grace and looks far down the centuries to the time when Gd will provide the ultimate sacrifice for sin in His Son, Jesus.
In our text, the prophet calls upon his readers to make hard choices. We face the same choices which they faced.
I. We must choose between thanksgiving or ingratitude:
A. Israel, as a nation, was founded on religious freedom. They left Egypt in order to worship God as He expected.
1. God gave them a national constitution based on gratitude for His care and guidance. Exod. 20:2
2. Their national historical documents were filled with references to God and they prayed every day in school and at home.
3. God guarded them as a mother guards her children.
4. Yet, the citizens were not grateful to God for all this. They took it for granted and ignored His claims on their lives. They were judged and punished repeatedly.
B. Today, our relationship with God must be based on a conscious awareness of all God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Rom. 12:1 - "in view of God’s mercy."
1. The decisions we make daily will reflect whether or not we have chosen to be grateful or ungrateful for blessings