Isaiah 1:1 New American Standard Bible
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
This opening verse covers the entire book of Isaiah. It is not merely connected to the first chapter but gives us an introduction to the author of the book, who it was written to, and the time it was written. Some argue if Isaiah wrote the entire book of Isaiah. They will claim that there were maybe two or three authors for the book. But why they put this forward is they struggle with predictive prophecy. They desire to divorce the supernatural from the work of one of God’s great prophets.
A prophet was marked and measured by his words. If what a prophet said came to pass, then those who were listening knew that the prophet was truly of the Lord. But if what they said did not come to pass, it was not of the Lord but simply based upon the imagination of the prophet. Sadly, today we have many who are running around, carrying the title prophet, and simply speaking from their own imaginations. God has given us His word and it is vital that everything we say and hear is measured against the word of God.
Isaiah is the author of the entire book of Isaiah. He was called by the Lord and later on in the book we will see his encounter with the Lord that forever changed him. His ministry was to the southern kingdom of Israel. We know this because it states it was concerning Judah and Jerusalem. As a prophet he would not only speak to the people but would speak to those who were in leadership. Sadly, many of the kings of Israel failed to heed the word of the Lord and therefore faced the discipline of the Lord.
What we find in the pages of scripture is the character and nature of God revealed. God’s desire is that all would repent and come to salvation. God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. But God is righteous, holy, and just. He must rightly and fully deal with sin. Israel lived in covenant relationship with the Living God. Within that covenant God laid out blessings and curses based on their ability to live according to the covenant God established with them (Deut 28). Throughout the study of Israel’s history, you find a people who continually rebelled against the Living God and instead of experiencing the blessings of God, they instead faced His discipline and judgement.
All of the kings listed here cover the career of Isaiah the prophet. Many of the prophets of old in their writings included this so that those who read their words had a context and time frame by which to measure their words. This reveals to us an important concept in understanding scripture. It is the principle of context. Understanding who and when these words are written to are essential for understanding how to apply the scriptures to our own lives.
Even though these words were written long ago, they still apply to us today as the people of God. Sadly, many Christian fail to study the Old Testament and miss out on truly knowing the depths of who God is. Some have a false concept that God is simply a God of wrath and punishment. But a study of the prophets of God reveal that God is full of love, grace, and mercy. That love, grace, and mercy is far deeper than we understand. But if His love, grace, and mercy is continually rejected, God in His love will bring discipline. He disciplines those He loves because He understands if they are left to continue in their sin and wickedness, they will be destroyed by it.
Isaiah 1:2-3 New American Standard Bible
2 Listen, heavens, and hear, earth; For the Lord has spoken: “Sons I have raised and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. 3 An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”
This is the picture of a court scene. The God of all creation is confronting the rebelliousness of His people. The Lord says listen, heavens, and hear, earth; For the Lord has spoken. This doesn’t mean that Heaven and Earth has ears and can actually hear. But what God is making clear is He is not hiding what He is saying. Before God ever brings correction, He will first bring forth His word and confront the wickedness of those He is going to correct. This is a picture of the mercy of God. God’s desire is not to bring judgement. His desire is that people would respond to His word. They will repent of their wickedness. But sadly, people often continue in their wickedness and reject the word of the Lord. The ministry of a prophet was never enjoyable or easy. Often they were rejected because the message they brought to the people. Sadly, it is the same case today in the body of Christ. People would rather do it their way instead of doing things God’s way.
The Lord says “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me”. God is speaking about His concern and care of the nation of Israel. He chose Israel, Israel didn’t choose God. It was God who called Abraham. It was God who called Isaac. It was God who called Jacob and changed his name to Israel. It was God who blessed Jacob with twelve sons. It was God who established the covenant with Israel. It was God who made it clear that blessing was found in living according to the covenant and if they choose to rebel against God and His ways, God was clear to communicate the consequences.
In the body of Christ today it is God who chose to send His Son to die for our sins. It was God who called us by name. It is God who granted us repentance. It is God who drew us. It is God who enabled us to see the truth. It is God who saves us. Yes, God has given us a freewill and we make the decision to follow Him. But it is God who does all the work, and we respond to the precious gift that God extends. This is the same for Israel. Israel did nothing to deserve God’s covenant.
Israel did nothing to deserve God’s mercy. But this is simply a reflection of who God truly is. He is full of love, grace, and mercy. He is slow to anger but abounding in love. But responding to His word correctly is a key to experiencing His love, grace, and mercy.
The Lord brings up the example of the ox and donkey. These are brute, dumb beast by nature who are simply used in farming. But what God shows is even though these are not animals of great intelligence, they know their owner and master. The point God is making is that Israel has forsaken the one who provides everything. Israel in their own actions have turned their back on God. God is calling them to return to Him. God is calling them to turn from their sin and to return to their first love.
In the book of Revelation, the Lord has the same message for the church in Ephesus. His message is to return to their first love (Rev 2:4-5). As followers of Christ, we must be guarded against allowing anything to become an idol. We must steadfastly and diligently pursue Jesus Christ with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He must have priority. He must be the center and focus of everything.
Satan’s aim is to separate us from fellowship with the Lord. Satan’s desire is to turn our worship and affection from God and to worship and long for created things instead of The creator of all things. This is why Satan fell. He desired to be worshiped over God Almighty (Isaiah 14:12-13, Ezek 28:12-19). Jesus has called us to live for Him. He has called us to worship Him alone. He said He has come to give life and give it abundantly. This can only become a reality in our lives when we truly walk and live according to His word. He said those who love me will obey my commands. Obedience to the word of God is essential for walking in the blessings and purposes of God.