Isaiah 57:1-21

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 57:1-21

Isaiah 57
I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee. When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain. — Isaiah 57:12-13

For several years, we lived in a part of the United States known as “tornado alley.” Having never experienced a tornado, we were somewhat oblivious to the dangers of one. However, the people who had lived in the area for many years had a different view than we did, and they warned us not to ignore the signs of impending danger.

The year before we moved there, a brutal tornado had destroyed over 400 homes in one area of town. The local people understood the devastation that could result from a severe storm, and they had a healthy respect for the indicators that could precede a tornado. On one occasion, we stopped during a church service and gathered in a small entryway until the storm passed. Another time, we got a phone call from a family in the middle of the night telling us they were headed our way to get out of the path of a tornado.

Through the warnings and admonitions of those who had experience, we learned to be more attentive and cautious during severe storms so that we could take cover if needed. We understood that our safety depended on our willingness to listen to those who had firsthand knowledge, and to follow the instructions we had been given.

In our focus verses, the prophet warned the people that their self-righteousness and good works would not profit them. They had turned to idols and rejected God, but Isaiah told them that when the storms came, their idols would blow away like chaff. The people seemingly did not understand the danger they were in, and ignored the fact that judgment would come if they did not change their ways. Still, God held out hope to those who had a contrite and humble spirit. He encouraged them that if they would turn from their wicked ways and trust in God, they would “possess the land” and inherit His “holy mountain.”

Today, too, that promise is extended. Those who recognize their spiritual peril and turn to God with a contrite and humble spirit will find deliverance. This passage contains a great promise of hope to all who, in their own inadequacy and brokenness, throw themselves upon the mercy of God. God will revive them and restore them to a right relationship with Him. What a God of mercy we serve!


The message begun in chapter 56 is continued in this passage, which was set in the last days of the Northern Kingdom, before their overthrow by Assyria. In idolatrous Israel, the people practiced sorcery, prostitution, offered their children as sacrifices, and worshiped their idols in every part of the land, both publicly and privately. The righteous were persecuted and the only way they would find deliverance from the evil to come was through death. Through the prophet, God likened the offense of idolatry to adultery against Israel’s true husband — Himself.

The “high mountain” mentioned in verse seven alluded to the fact that pagan altars were commonly built in high locations. The prophet noted that the idolater had “enlarged” his bed, which means he was worshiping several pagan gods at once.

In verse 9, God told the people that they were seeking for security in the wrong places when they made political alliances with their pagan neighbors. He said the reason they did not fear Him was because He had been merciful to them and had not sent judgment sooner (verse 11). He told them that their trust in their idols and their own spirituality would not profit them. They would be overrun by the enemy and their idols could not save them when judgment came. The fate of the worshipers of God are set in contrast to the godless in that they “shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain” (verse 13).

In verse 14, God encouraged the faithful remnant to remove every hindrance and denounce sin in order to worship the Lord. The phrase, “cast ye up, prepare the way” referred to the process of heaping up a mound of earth and stones in order to build up the surface of the road.

In verses 15 through 21, God told the people what they needed to do to receive peace and restoration with Him. They needed to recognize who God really was by understanding His great majesty and His holiness. It was imperative to come before Him with a humble and contrite spirit before He would dwell with them. God wanted them to know that because of His love for them, He did not want to remain angry with them. Even though they had stubbornly gone their own way, He longed to have a relationship with His people. He wanted to heal them and restore comforts to them.

The peace God desired to give them was more than just the absence of hostility with their enemies. It meant a wonderful sense of well-being that came from a relationship with their God. The wicked could not receive this peace because they were like the restless sea whose sin tormented them and caused them to be in continual turmoil.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
      B.   The person of the deliverer (redemption)
            8.   The condemnation of the wicked in Israel
                  b.  The idolatry of Israel’s rulers (57:1-13)
                       (1)   The iniquity of idolatry (57:1-10)
                       (2)   The futility of idolatry (57:11-13)
                  c.   The mercy of the repentant (57:14-21)


  1. What two things was Israel putting their trust in instead of God?

  2. Why did the people give their love and worship to worthless wood and stone instead of the God who made and loved them?

  3. Why are humility and contrition so important in God’s sight?

  4. What steps can we take to avoid falling into idolatry in our day?


God offers His peace and place of refuge to those who come to Him with a humble and contrite spirit. What an opportunity is ours!