Isaiah 1:4 New American Standard Bible
4 Oh, sinful nation, People weighed down with guilt, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.
The beginning of Isaiah is a picture of a court scene. I always wonder what it must have been like as Isaiah proclaimed forth the word of the Lord to the people. God is very specific here about the sins of the people. God is confronting them with their wickedness and their sin.
To sin means to miss the mark. The mark is God’s righteousness. In essence to sin is to break the law that God has established. Thankful God is full of love, grace, and mercy. God gives people time to repent. Whenever the Lord brings correction, it is with the purpose of bringing the person to a place of repentance. Repentance means to turn fully from living in sin and to live for the Living God. It is impossible to claim to be in right relationship with the Living God and continue to live in sin.
The Lord calls them a sinful nation. Sin had invaded the nation of Israel. It had invaded the leadership of Israel and therefore it had trickled down to the average person in the nation. Whenever the leaders of a nation are corrupt and wicked, the entire nation will suffer. Our prayer should be that God would raise up righteous leaders in our day.
They are a people weighed down with iniquity. That word iniquity means perversity, moral evil, fault, mischief, and iniquity. The people had entered into gross wickedness and the Lord is now confronting them. Sin is very deceptive. At first it may seem like no big deal, but over time the more we give sin room in our lives and give into temptation, the more it will capture us and will eventually destroy us. Whenever Satan sets a temptation for an individual it is like a hunter setting a trap for prey.
The Lord states they are offspring of evil doers. Wickedness and evil are what the people had become. Even though they are supposed to be the covenant people of God, they have turned from the ways of the Lord and have turned into to the ways of wickedness. They are sons who act corruptly. Corruption has become their nature. When sin becomes our way of life it impacts the very way we live. It impacts every choice and decision we make. The more depraved a person becomes in their behavior, the more self-destructive they will become.
God charges them with abandoning the Lord. Israel is supposed to be living according to God’s covenant. Blessing is found in obedience. But they have chosen to abandon the Lord. They have chosen to walk away. Often when people are struggling, they want to blame everyone else without talking accountability for their actions. Until we take accountability for our actions and repent, healing and restoration will not take place.
The Holy One of Israel refers to the awesomeness of God. It speaks of the one Israel is in covenant with. What set apart Israel as a nation is they were in covenant with the Living God. The surrounding nation simply served false gods who were not gods at all. But Israel was in relationship with the Living God.
Again, God points out they have turned away from God. God has given us freewill. God will never force us to live for Him. In life when we truly come to a place of surrender is when we begin too truly live. Many people believe that life is all about pursuing what we want. That is a lie of the devil. True life is about dying to oneself and simply living for God. Jesus said anyone who would come after me must deny themselves and carry their cross. It is upon the cross that self-dies. We are called to crucify the flesh and no longer live according to the sinful nature. We are called to walk and live according to the Spirit.
Isaiah 1:5-6 New American Standard Bible
5 Where will you be stricken again, As you continue in your rebellion? The entire head is sick And the entire heart is faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head There is nothing healthy in it, Only bruises, slashes, and raw wounds; Not pressed out nor bandaged, Nor softened with oil.
The Lord says where will you be stricken again. As they continued in their rebellion and their wickedness they were suffering throughout their body as a nation and individually. This is a picture of a person who is being flogged for the things we have done. When our Lord and Savior was to go to the cross before He did, He was scourged. He was whipped over and over again not because He deserved it, but because we do. Our punishment was put upon Him because of God’s love, grace, and mercy for us.
Isaiah speaks of the head being sick and the heart being faint. It speaks of mental and emotional anguish the individual experiencing. But the anguish is a result of their own making. It is being inflicted upon them because of their own wickedness. God is confronting them with truth so that they will turn from this wickedness and be healed. The ministry of the prophet was never easy and often they were rejected because people would rather live-in sin and rebellion, instead of submitting and surrendering to Almighty God.
From the sole of the foot to the head the entire body has been touched by punishment and suffering. Instead of having their wounds receive care and healing come, instead what remains are bruises, welts, and raw wounds. Often, we simply are our greatest enemy. In our pursuit of sin, we destroy our lives. In Israel’s pursuit of sin, they were destroying themselves. God didn’t send Isaiah forth to bring forth a cruel and hurtful message. God sent Isaiah to proclaim the truth and to confront the people with their sin that they would acknowledge their sin and turn from their wicked ways. This is where healing and restoration is truly found. Simply asking God to forgive us without turning for our sin doesn’t mean anything. It is useless. True change is when we acknowledge our sin, and we choose to turn from it.
Isaiah 1:7-9 New American Standard Bible
7 Your land is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire; As for your fields, strangers are devouring them in front of you; It is desolation, as overthrown by strangers. 8 The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, Like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field, like a city under watch. 9 If the Lord of armies Had not left us a few survivors, We would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.
God is giving them an honest assessment of their situation. Their land is desolate, cities burned with fire, strangers are devouring their field and crops, their fields have become desolated. All of this has been brought upon by themselves and their conduct toward the Lord. When God brought judgement upon Israel it was not from a place of anger but from a place of love. Long before the Lord would bring judgement, He would bring forth His word over and over again.
The Lord continues in stating that they have been left defenseless because they have turned from the Lord. The only time Israel faced defeat in battle or were overwhelmed by a foreign nation is when they were living in rebellion against Almighty God. When Israel walks in obedience and lived according to God’s ways, great blessing and victory were experienced by them. But sadly, during Isaiah’s day many of the kings who ruled southern Judah chose instead of walking away from God and His purposes.
But we still see the mercy of God at work. The prophet says unless the Lord of Hosts or the Lord of Armies had left us a few survivors. God always had a remnant set aside. He always had a people who truly loved Him and walked with Him. Sadly, the majority chose to abandon the Lord and His purposes. But the remnant chose to honor the Lord and live for Him. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of gross wickedness. The wickedness of those two cities attracted the justice and righteousness of God. Israel would have been destroyed as a nation if it was not for God’s mercy and His grace. If it was not for God’s faithfulness, Israel would not remain as a nation.