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In Court with God (Isaiah 1)

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CHAPTER 1 May 11 
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.
Yahweh Rebukes Judah
2Hear, heavens and listen, earth; for Yahweh has spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me. 3The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib; but Israel doesn’t know Me, My people don’t consider. 4Ah sinful nation, a people loaded with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken Yahweh, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and backward. 5Why should you be beaten more, that you revolt more and more? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it: wounds, welts, and open sores. They haven’t been closed, neither bandaged, neither soothed with oil. 7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; foreigners devour your land in your presence and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a besieged city. 9Unless Yahweh of Armies had left to us a very small remnant, we would have been as Sodom; we would have been like Gomorrah. 10Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11What are the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?, says Yahweh. I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed animals. I don’t delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats. 12When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand, to trample My courts? 13Bring no more vain offerings. Incense is an abomination to Me; new moons, Sabbaths, and holy gatherings: I can’t bear with evil assemblies. 14My soul hates your New Moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. 15When you spread forth your hands, I will hide My eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. 16Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,  17learn to do well, seek justice, relieve the oppressed judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18Come now, and let us reason together, says Yahweh: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.
The Unfaithful City
21How the faithful city has become a prostitute! She was full of justice; righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. 22Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. 23Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves. Each one loves bribes and follows after rewards. They don’t judge the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come to them. 24Therefore the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says: Ah, I will get relief from My adversaries, and avenge Myself of My enemies; 25and I will turn My hand on you, thoroughly purge away your dross, and will take away all your tin. 26I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning. Afterwards you shall be called ‘The city of righteousness, a faithful city’. 27Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with righteousness. 28But the destruction of transgressors and sinners shall be together, and those who forsake Yahweh shall be consumed. 29For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which you have desired, and you shall be confounded for the gardens that you have chosen. 30For you shall be as an oak whose leaf fades, and as a garden that has no water. 31The strong will be like tinder, and his work like a spark. They will both burn together, and no one will quench them.


1:2 ‘Heaven and earth’ are used here to describe a whole system of things; maybe the ‘heavens’ refer to the leaders of Judah, and the ‘earth’ the ordinary people. Verse 10 addresses the rulers and ordinary people separately in keeping with this. When we read in other Scriptures of the ‘heavens and earth’ being destroyed, we have to understand this figuratively, as referring to an entire system of things, human society- rather than the literal Heaven, which is God’s dwelling place, and the earth, upon which He intends to establish His eternal Kingdom at Christ’s return.
1:7 Is desolate... are burned- But this hadn’t yet happened at the time Isaiah was prophesying. But so certain was God’s word of fulfilment that he could speak in the present tense. We likewise should try to envisage prophesied future things as if they effectively are now- and live accordingly.
1:9 We would have been as Sodom- But v. 10 speaks to them as if they are Sodom. They were as Sodom to God, but for the sake of the faithful remnant, He wasn’t judging them as Sodom. This shows how faithful third parties can have a huge effect upon the destiny of an unspiritual mass of God’s people- so sensitive is God to the righteousness of even one man, as exemplified supremely in the achievement of Christ’s work for us.