A Study of Isaiah 1:1-18
Unfortunately, in many churches the Old Testament is not being preached any more. That is a shame. The Bible is One Book. They have forgotten that the Church in the 1st Century AD had only the Old Testament and they preached Christ from the Old Testament. That is what I plan to do today in this article.
The Scroll of Isaiah stands out in the Old Testament as one very special revelation from God. Although the division into chapters and verses came about 1000 years after Isaiah wrote this scroll, we are struck with the similarities between this scroll and the whole Bible. Isaiah, as we now know it, consists of 66 chapters. The Bible, which is One Book, has been compiled out of 66 Scrolls. The Old Testament, as we now know it, consists of 39 scrolls and the New Testament consists of 27 scrolls. Quite remarkably the 66 chapters of Isaiah can be distinguished as 39 chapters emphasizing that “Judgment Is Coming”, and 27 chapters emphasizing “The Wonder of Salvation”. It is even more amazing if you know that orthodox Jews have worked out the division of the Scroll of Isaiah into chapters and verses; they had no knowledge of the 27 scrolls of the New Testament, which were canonized in the 3rd Century AD.
It is my job to teach you the Gospel of Salvation, so that you can take this Bible and understand the spiritual truths that are hidden herein.
Let’s begin with Isaiah, Chapter 1, verse 1.
The Vision of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1-7)
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.
God gave the Prophet Isaiah a vision of the future of Judah and Jerusalem. It is not a bright future at all; it is bad, bad, bad. It was not a future that you would expect from God with this lineup of kings. Of these four kings there were three good kings: Uzziah was a good king, and he reigned 52 years. Jotham was a good king, and he reigned 20 years. Hezekiah was a good king, and he reigned 29 years. Only Ahaz was a bad king, and he reigned 16 years, but the first 8 of those 16 years were in co-regency with his father Jotham. So Ahaz had only 8 years to carry out his wickedness. Besides, it was to this same king Ahaz that God, through the Prophet Isaiah, uttered the wonderful prophecy of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He said in chapter 7:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
And then in chapter 9 He said:
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.
Wonderful prophesies. But then, why did God give Isaiah such a terrible vision of Judah and Jerusalem?
I can think of at least two good reasons why God did that.
First of all, the principle: If you have guests, you cannot serve your guests an omelet of 10 good eggs and one rotten egg. And neither can you serve it to God. You do not balance your good works against your bad works. Just one sin is enough to make you end up in Hell. That is the proverb of Isaiah 1:1.
Secondly, God knew the hearts of this people: Most of them remained unsaved. God also knew that the son of Hezekiah was Manasseh. Manasseh was the most wicked king in the history of the nation of Judah, and the nation of Judah followed their king in all his idolatry. That is the proverb of Isaiah 1:1.
God, in His great mercy, sent this warning by the hand of Isaiah the Prophet, to Judah and Jerusalem to let His people know that there was something wrong with them. And when we read warnings from God in the Bible, we must see in those warnings the mercy of God that He lets us know our error, and in His mercy He has given us time to repent and turn to Him.
This message of Isaiah was to Judah and Jerusalem.
But who are Judah and Jerusalem representing?
They are the people of God: the Old Testament Congregation. God is also speaking here to the New Testament. Congregation. It is also a message to us, who are living in this wicked age where idolatry abounds, and where people are so blind that they can walk from church to church and not even recognize if the true Gospel is preached or if a false gospel is preached.
God says: My people have not known Me
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
My people “Israel doth not know”. Literally the Hebrew text says: “Israel have not known”.
What is so serious?
What have they not known?
They have not known God. They are dumber than an ox, and they are dumber than a donkey, because “My people doth not consider”. Literally the Hebrew text says: “My people have not understood”.
What have they not understood?
The next verse says it: They have not understood that sin requires the payment of the Wrath of God.
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
Just like in our time, in this 21st Century. We are living in a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers. The reason why crime in our society is at an all time high is, because the Church is not performing the task they have been appointed to. The Church is supposed to be a blessing to our society by proclaiming the Gospel of Salvation, so that people may become saved under the hearing of the true Gospel and become a beneficial influence in our society. But when the majority of Christian churches preach a moralizing gospel, or when they preach: “Jesus loves you and is waiting for you to accept Him”, then they preach a gospel that does not save. That is indeed the situation in our country today. That is why God calls it a sinful nation.
The salt of the Gospel has lost its savour. It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
In the majority of Churches the Gospel of the Bible is no longer preached.
It is good for nothing!
No longer do they preach Christ crucified for the elect whom He came to save. No longer do they preach that God is sovereign and that He saves whom He will. Continuing in Isa, God says:
Why should you be stricken any more?
Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
Does this not sound strange?
“Why should ye be stricken any more?”
Who struck them?
Was it God who brought affliction to them?
Indeed it was. We can see this confirmed in many places in the Bible.
For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Indeed, God afflicted them, because God uses the “Rod of Correction” to correct those whom God intended to save. For example, we read in Jeremiah 5:3.
O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
When the Last day comes and people are thrown into the lake of fire, no one can blame God for their destiny. Paraphrased, God says: “I warned you often enough, but you did not listen.” And so it is with the people of Isaiah’s days. He says in verses 6 and 7:
From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
Your land is desolate.
Did God give them up?
Did God give them over to a reprobate mind?
Let us remember that we were there at one time. We too came into this world as incorrigible sinners. We too “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:3). We too had to be stricken by God to come to our senses. Most of us had to go through some kind of a calamity before we were made willing to listen to the Gospel. And now the question is:
Is There Still Hope for the Daughter of Zion? (Isaiah 1:8-15)
It seems that God is not putting up with Judah and Jerusalem any more.
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
What is God saying here?
We have already seen that this Old Testament language is filled with parables. But here we have three parables in one verse. Literally in the Hebrew text God says in verse 8:
And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a hut in a garden, like a city kept.
What is so bad about a booth in a vineyard?
What is so bad about a hut in a garden?
But let us now focus on the third parable: What is so bad about a city that is kept?
(This is the primary meaning of that Hebrew verb.)
What is so bad about a city that is besieged, and is kept?
Well, the city is kept, but the land around it is desolate. That is what the previous verse explained. The country is desolate. Let’s work this verse from back to the front:
1. The daughter of Zion is left like a city that is kept, but the countryside is desolate.
2. The daughter of Zion is left like a hut in a garden, but the garden is desolate.
3. The daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, but the vineyard is desolate.
What is the spiritual meaning of a vineyard that is desolate?
It yields no grapes. It yields no grape juice. And grape juice or wine is a type of the blood of Christ, an essential ingredient of the Gospel of Salvation. The vineyard then is the Congregation of God where the Gospel must be preached. If the vineyard is desolate, then it will yield no Gospel of Salvation. This prophecy was actually fulfilled in the nation of Judah when they developed a plan of salvation through obedience to the Ceremonial Law.
If the Church preaches another gospel than the Gospel of the Bible alone, then the vineyard is desolate. This prophecy is again fulfilled in the end time, the time that we live in now, when churches all throughout the world are engaging in additional revelations through dreams and visions and tongues and angel visitations; not realizing that they have a gospel that is no longer the Gospel of the Bible alone. It is no longer a Church where people are being saved. They may go through the motions that Churches are supposed to go through, like Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but rituals don’t mean anything to God. They think they are saved, but they are not. And God says:
To what purpose are your sacrifices?
Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
Why would God say this to them?
God Himself ordained these sacrifices and ceremonies and feast days when He commanded them through Moses.
Why did God want them to stop worshipping Him that way?
Well, God commanded the Ceremonial Law only for His people, so that they through these ceremonies, which were only shadows, would look forward to the coming Messiah, who would perform the ultimate sacrifice, the Cross. But God did not command the Ceremonial Law to the unsaved heathen. In the Bible, anyone unsaved is called “wicked”. Listen to Proverbs 21:27
The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
This tells us that there are many “wicked”, or unsaved people, who bring sacrifices. They may be very religious, they may be in a church, but they do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. God further defines those who are unsaved in Prov 28:9
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
Anyone who does not want to listen to the Word of God is called “unregenerate”. They may be in a church and they may be sending up prayers to God, but if they disbelieve part of the Word of God, then they are in the same category as those who are adding to the word of God. Even their prayers shall be abomination before God. That is why God is not pleased with their sacrifices.
We too must take the Word of God seriously. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:23-24:
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Therefore, we too must remember that if we bear grudges against someone else, it may indicate that we have not been saved. We may not outwardly have bloody hands, but in our heart we may have already murdered that person. God looks on the heart. God said in verse 15:
Your hands are full of blood (Acts 20:26-27)
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Is God saying that they were murderers?
There may be some murderers among them, but to interpret this verse correctly we must compare Scripture with Scripture. Let’s take an example from the New Testament:
Saul of Tarsus was a bloody man. He was trained to be a religious Pharisee, but in his unsaved condition he held an intense hatred for the Christians. He persecuted them, threw them in jail, and even killed some of them. But God, in His great Mercy and Grace, saved this enemy of God and made him to be the Apostle Paul. Then in Acts 20:26-27, speaking to the Church at Ephesus the Apostle Paul said these remarkable words:
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
How could Paul say that he was pure from the blood of all?
What about the Christians he murdered?
The answer is: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Now apply that to us: We are not guilty of the blood of all those whom we counsel in the Gospel and who remain unregenerate, because we were not afraid to declare unto them the whole counsel of God. On the other hand, if we did not declare to them the whole counsel of God and they remained unregenerate, then we are guilty of their blood.
That is why God says in Isaiah 1:15, “Your hands are full of blood”, because the Jews have been teaching their children and their children’s children a false gospel, which was either an idolatrous gospel or it was a works gospel through obedience to the Ceremonial Law, but it was not the Gospel of Moses, their teacher. The Lord Jesus said in John 5:46,
Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Is there still hope for the Daughter of Zion?
What a strange name: “Daughter of Zion”.
Who is Zion?
Historically, Zion was one of the hills on which Jerusalem was built. Later it was extended to include the Temple, and eventually entire Jerusalem was named Zion. But the New Testament gives an additional meaning to Zion. On the first Palm Sunday, when the Lord Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem seated on two donkeys, God, through the hands of the Apostle John, wrote these words in John 12:15
Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.
To whom are these words addressed?
To the Jews in Jerusalem?
This verse starts with “Fear not”.
Who are those who have nothing to fear?
Only those whose sins have been paid for at the Cross have nothing to fear. Moreover, these words are addressed to those for whom Jesus is King. Therefore only the Saints, the true believers, are in view. Daughter of Sion is the name given to all the believers, throughout time, who make up the Temple of God.
Let’s further define “all the believers, throughout time”.
Except the Lord of Hosts had left us a remnant (John 12:15, Isaiah 37:32)
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.
Not only at the time of Isaiah’s prophesy, but all throughout time did God save only a remnant of the human population. God says in Romans 11:5,
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
God is the One who chooses the Remnant that is to be saved. They are the Remnant according to the election of Grace. The Remnant is chosen entirely by the Grace of God. This is the same group of people that is called the daughter of Sion in John 12:15. Let’s return now to Isaiah 1:9.
Is there still hope for the Daughter of Zion?
Most definitely! They are the only ones saved.
Because there is a remnant, God addresses this remnant, the Daughter of Zion, and says:
Come Now, and Let Us Reason Together (Isaiah 43:25-26)
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.
God is not saying that He is starting a debate. Paraphrased, God says: “Let’s clear this up, and put an end to all reasoning. Here are the facts: I have chosen you before the foundation of the world, and I am going to wash your sins, and I am going to make you mine.” End of debate!
What could be more wonderful than that?
God says in Isaiah 43:25,
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.
Put Me in remembrance. Repent of your sins. Let us declare it together. Of course, a child of God will be so delighted that his transgressions were blotted out, there will be no end to our gratitude. That is why God said:
Wash you and make you clean (Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 30:6)
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.
This may sound strange. Is this a command to wash ourselves from our sins?
No! Only Christ can do that. Only God can make us Born Again.
This command is similar to that of the Circumcision of your heart:
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
The only ones who will repent of their sins, are the elect of God who have become Born Again, who are righteous in the sight of God.
White as snow and white as wool (Revelation 1:14)
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
Who had to wash our sins?
The Lord Jesus!
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
By Alfred Chompff