The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. — Isaiah 1:1
When my dad was a young man and seeking the infilling of the Holy Spirit, he had a dream. He saw a maze of trees and bushes that went about in a winding path and came to a fork. One path led to safety. The other path was shrouded by trees, and beyond what could be seen there was an abrupt drop-off into a treacherous canyon. He stood at the fork and watched as person after person walked by, warning and pleading with them to choose the safe path. However, one by one they turned toward the destructive path and fell to their doom. He woke from his dream alarmed and staring at life and eternity with a greater vision than ever before. Soon after, he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Isaiah had a vision of a nation that was spiritually blind, much like those in my father’s dream. The Israelites had no love for truth. They could not see that other nations were infiltrating their society and contaminating them with idolatry. They could not see that their lives were as corrupt as those of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that their religious rituals were repulsive to God. They needed to be awakened to their state of moral and spiritual decline.
There were a few people left in Judah with a love for the truth who believed and obeyed God. They no doubt saw and tried to warn the nation of Israel of the destruction that lay ahead on the wicked path the nation had chosen. They had a vision. One person in that righteous remnant was Isaiah. Since Israel as a whole seemed to have rejected previous warnings, how would they listen now to the Lord speaking through Isaiah?
Sin is as rampant in our society today as it was in Isaiah’s time, and people need to know there is a way of salvation. Like Isaiah, let us do our part to declare the vision of the Lord to a dying world. We must also boldly stand for righteousness in a sinful world whose inhabitants are steadily streaming down the road to destruction. God can use us if we will let Him.
Isaiah began this book of prophecy by expressing the burden of his heart and declaring the Lord’s thoughts toward the nation of Judah. His writings began before he truly started his ministry. While it is possible that he prophesied during the last of Uzziah’s reign, his commission and anointing from the Lord came the year that Uzziah died. This experience was recorded in Isaiah 6:8 when Isaiah responded, “Here am I; send me.”
The northern and southern kingdoms had divided, with Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Although Isaiah was speaking to the people where he was residing in Jerusalem, which belonged to Judah, he no doubt meant his message for all of Israel who had begun to sin greatly, and would soon be conquered by Assyria.
Isaiah means “Jehovah is salvation,” and his account proclaimed the Gospel message of salvation, comparable to the gospels in the New Testament. Isaiah had a deep love for the people of Israel, referring to the nation as “my people” twenty-six times through the book, but he hated sin and hypocrisy. Judah was following in the footsteps of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and continued to sink deeper into idolatry and sin. Still, they continued to worship God, as though they were as righteous as their fathers who had first established the covenant with God.
Isaiah saw this hypocrisy from God’s perspective; regardless of how rich the nation appeared to human eyes, it looked like a diseased body, decaying in its corruption. The people had perverted justice, oppressed the poor, practiced idolatry, and sought military aid from heathen nations rather than from God. Yet, they continued going through the motions of worship.
The nation, entrenched in sin, still held to traditions of old, but the people were insincere and faithless. God hated sacrifice without a perfect heart. The words vain oblations literally mean “worthless offerings.” The “appointed feasts” referred to the three major religious events of the Jewish year: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. In spite of their outward righteousness, God saw them as a corrupted nation. They were at war and losing. Their cities were burned as they had been attacked. The inhabitants were contributing to their own defeat by their rebellion against God.
Yet, in all this degradation, there was still a “very small remnant” of true believers. Though small, this group of people made enough difference to keep the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah from destroying Israel. It was a severe insult for the self-righteous Israel to be compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the nation’s leaders were denounced by the comparison. Still, Isaiah was not afraid to say it because he knew the solution would bring man together with God and restore the nation again.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Introduction (1:1)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
A. Prophecies related to Judah
1. God’s arraignment of Judah
a. Judah’s rejection of God (1:2-15)
(1) The complaint against Judah (1:2-6)
(2) The desolation in Judah (1:7-9)
(3) The condemnation of Judah (1:10-15)
Simply going through religious motions will not save us. Let us ask God to give us a sincere love for the truth and a vision for the Gospel.