God’s Sermon to a Sinful Nation
Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord’s in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, who were kings in Judah. (Isaiah 1:1) The children of Israel had largely rebelled against God and were failing to live as servants of the Almighty. Isaiah wrote to condemn the sins of the people and to encourage them to turn back to the Lord; he also pointed them to the coming Messiah who would bear the sins of those who obey Him. Sadly, even though God blessed and protected His people they lived in rebellion against Him. Much of the focus of Isaiah had to do with the forgiveness of sins. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Isaiah very clearly predicted the virgin birth of the coming Redeemer. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) In Isaiah 9:6 we read, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Jesus is the mighty God who gave Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Isaiah pictured Jesus as the suffering Savior. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) Isaiah made it clear that salvation is in Christ and in His church. Isaiah promised great comfort for God’s faithful people. “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 25:8) In summary, Isaiah warned the children of Israel concerning their sins and told them that punishment was certain. This great prophet predicted many things concerning the coming Messiah. He prophesied concerning Jesus’ birth, suffering, death, and kingdom. He also made the Jews aware that there would be many blessings for the faithful in God’s spiritual kingdom. In God’s spiritual kingdom, the church people have peace, spiritual health, everlasting life, and even the resurrection to life.
God’s sermon to a sinful nation looked back at His power and His blessings. Israel was without excuse for their sinful living. The Lord had nourished and brought up Israel, just as He has done for us. (Isaiah 1:2) Our God is a mighty God and it makes no sense to rebel against Him. In Exodus 15:6 it is said that God is "glorious in power." In Job 37:23 we are told that God is "excellent in power." In Isaiah 40:26 it is said that God is "strong in power." The Psalmist said in Psalm 62:11 "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God." Look back and realize how mighty God is and how good He has been to you. “Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” (2 Samuel 7:22) Looking back at past blessings from God should cause us to want to serve Him in the present. “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.” (Psalm 150:1-2) Look back and see what God has done.
God’s sermon to a sinful nation looked at the present, sad, spiritual condition of the people. In Isaiah 1:2-17, God’s prophets preached about the sad spiritual condition of the people. He very specifically named many of their sins. Israel did not know God; they did not think about Him. (Isaiah 1:3) They were corrupt; they had forsaken and angered God. (Isaiah 1:4) They revolted against God with evil hearts. (Isaiah 1:5) They were spiritually sick, from head to toe. (Isaiah 1:6) Their sins were causing God to withhold His blessings from them. (Isaiah 1:7-8) Their perversions were like Sodom and Gomorrah. Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” The word translated "abomination" refers to something that is morally disgusting and is the exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 that refers to homosexuality as an "abomination." In Jude 1:7 we read, “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” While homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities. God’s sermon to this sinful nation rebuked such practices. In spite of their sinful living the people still appeared before God with sacrifices, incense, oblations (An oblation is the offering of a gift or sacrifice to God), keeping the new moons and Sabbaths and the calling of various assemblies. God told them to go away with all their nonsense; He hated what they were doing. He said he would hide His eyes from this sinful nation and He would not answer their prayers. God’s commands for this sinful nations were, “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17) Look around at the sin that is bringing destruction and misery to our nation.
God’s sermon to a sinful nation looked at the future by providing hope for salvation through Jesus. God spared a remnant through whom Jesus would be born as Savior. “Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9) God was ready to bless and redeem Israel; He is likewise ready to bless and redeem us. The key to being redeemed is obedience. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” (Isaiah 1:19) Obedience must be from a willing heart. God wanted Israel to understand the consequences of a failure to obey. “But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:20) Look forward to the hope of heaven that is made possible by the blood of Jesus.
There is hope for sinners because Christ suffered sins penalty in man’s place. Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached to every creature. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) He then said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16) Baptism is for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) Will you accept the wonderful news that Jesus died for your sins and be baptized into Christ to put Him on so that your sins can be forgiven in His death? (Romans 6:3-4)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037