Summary: God is just like any parent; his heart breaks when his children rebel. These are the images of his hurt and what he planned to do about it.
REFLECTING IMAGES OF REBELLION
Someone has defined rebellion this way: “Reserving for myself the right to make the final decision.”
Are you a rebel?
How many of us think that it’s okay to go 110 km/h on the highway? As the pirates like to say, “It’s not a rule per se; it’s more like a guideline.” And in the States the speed limit is 75 mph, which means 120 km/h, or in other words, 130 km/h. Since most Americans drive faster than their own speed limit, you can cruise through most States at 140 km/h, because, hey, everybody’s doing it. Is this rebellion?
How do you rebel? And believe me, you do.
A friend of mind did not like the new gun registry laws that came out several years ago. In his mind the law punished the innocent and did nothing to criminals. He decided to bury his rifles and several boxes of ammunition. That way the police could not confiscate what they could not prove he owned. I wonder if he knows where he buried those guns.
Are we inclined to rebel? Yes, it’s in our nature to rebel.
In the washroom at Safeway there is a sign that reminds the patrons to wash their hands before returning to the store. Well I was going to before I read that sign. Now I don’t want to just because you told me. Don’t tell me what to do.
It’s in all of us, this tendency to rebel against authority. What’s painful is when you are the one in authority and it is your child who is rebelling. Now it’s not so cool; it’s not so insignificant. Now it really hurts. You make rules for your children’s safety and they flaunt them. They drive too fast, experiment with alcohol, dress too suggestively and get way too serious about their boyfriends and girlfriends. And you sit at home and wonder why they don’t believe you when you say that you love them and want the best for them. What did you do wrong?
If you were the perfect parent would your children rebel? Yes they would. Our Father in heaven is the perfect parent and his children still rebel. The great insult for any parent, and especially for God, is that the rebel does not believe that what you say is true.
Come and see some images of rebellion in Isaiah. Let me show you how God feels about rebellion.
1. “My children are rebelling!”
Isaiah’s vision identifies Israel’s problem from the start. It is so clear what has offended the God of Israel. His children are rebelling.
The overall image is subtle but it gives us the picture of a court with God as the judge. God has called and convened the great courtroom to order and has leveled the accusation, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me” (v. 2). It is a general statement, it does not get specific, yet there is a noticeable hurt in God’s words.
The LORD even compares their disobedience to the subjection of animals to their masters. “The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (v. 3). The comparison is stark. Even dumb animals know where their food comes from and who takes care of them.
Is that a fair contrast? I asked my dog the other day if he loved me. He just stared at me with those big eyes as if to say “What?” When I call him he will come to me for the most part. That is, unless there is something interesting to smell. My dog does not understand me either. Surely people are better than dumb animals.
Notice then, how God feels. His people have rebelled, his children have hurt him through disobedience, and they don’t really get it. They don’t even know how they have hurt him and he has to spell it out for them. He gave them rules to live by for their good and they decided to trust their own judgment about what was best. And the worst part is they think its okay. It’s not okay.
The LORD groans, “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him” (v. 5). I can imagine them asking, “How have we done this?” This is so unfair, the rebel without a clue says. They have no idea, so the LORD continues…
2. The Consequences of Rebellion
Though they have no idea there is a sense in which their disobedience was willful rather than ignorant failure to respond to God. They turned their backs on him. And what did they expect to happen when they did that?