Summary: God's arraignment and indictment of Israel: rebellion, and the evidence for it.
At last, we’re looking at the prophets! We’re starting with the ‘prince of the prophets’, Isaiah, and we’re going to take a look at Isaiah 1. Yesterday I quoted 1:2:
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.”
This is an arraignment. First, God summons the heavens and earth as his witnesses. Next, the indictment: ‘they have rebelled against me.’ Now God gives evidence from three areas. They concern Israel’s national, religious and social life.
First, as a nation, Israel was deeply unhealthy (v.6):
From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it … Your country lies desolate …
It’s intriguing that God cites this lack of health as evidence that Israel had been rebellious. The implication is that if Israel had not been rebellious then it wouldn’t be in such a state.
The second piece of evidence was that Jewish religion had become a sham (v.11-14):
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? … Bring no more vain offerings … Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates.
The third piece of evidence was the many social vices (v.21-26):
How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers … Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts.
Israel is guilty, but is that the end? Thankfully, it isn’t. God says what he will do (v.25-28):
I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning. Afterwards you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city … But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
Yesterday I wrote that Christians today may be unclear how and why God judges, or even if God judges at all! Isaiah 1 gets us off to a good start. Does God judge? Yes, he judges! Parents judge. Teachers judge. Law courts judge. God is God. He is the ultimate boss. He judges. Why does he judge? Here, he judges because his people have rebelled against him. This rebellion was evident in the national, religious and social spheres at the time of Isaiah. And I think it’s evident today.
Have a good day!