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
2. I Thess. 5:18, reminds us there is always something for which to thank God.
3. If we do someone a great favor, we expect gratitude. We say things to our children like, "I let you drive my car and this is the thanks I get," or "How can you treat me like this? Haven’t I given you everything you asked for?" etc.
4. Do you not think God expects us to be grateful for all His goodness? Of course He does.
5. As the prophet called upon Israel to choose thanksgiving over ingratitude, He calls upon us to do the same.
II. Choose obedience rather than rebellion:
A. Isaiah accused Israel of the worst kind of rebellion, children rebelling against parents: Isa. 1:2
1. Don’t we usually pity parents whose children rebel against them and bring shame and disgrace upon the family? Is there any greater disaster for parents than seeing their children go astray?
2. God’s children were more stupid than animals. V. 3
3. What they did was completely contrary to good sense and their own best interests. V. 5 In addition, it was the epitome of ingratitude.
4. God’s children had chosen rebellion over obedience.
B. God calls upon us to choose. Back to Rom. 12:1, 2:
1. Offer your body as a living sacrifice. Do not conform to the world’s pattern.
2. There is no way to really know the blessings of following God’s will until you put your whole heart into trying. You will, if you try, find it to be good, pleasing, perfect.
3. Our obedience glorifies God. II Cor. 9:13