A Study of Isaiah 1:18-27
We begin this article in the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 1. Our first point is:
1. The Daughter of Zion
And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden, as a besieged city.
Perhaps you know the answer to the question:
Is there still hope for the Daughter of Zion?
The answer from the Word of God came back: Yes, there is hope for the Daughter of Zion, because She is the only one for whom there is hope. “The Daughter of Zion” is a name given to “the Body of Believers” chosen by God before the Foundation of the world; also called “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5).
God says in Verse 9 that He is the One who chooses the Remnant:
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.
Thanks to the Remnant chosen by Grace, Jerusalem is still standing. Then, when we come to Verse 18, God speaks these hopeful words:
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.
Whom is God addressing here?
To whom is God speaking?
God is speaking to “The Daughter of Zion”. God is speaking to His people; He speaks to US:
God is not saying: “Come now, and let us talk this over together”. That is what it seems to say in your KJV, but that is not at all what the Hebrew text is saying. The verb here is used in the passive tense. God is doing all the talking, and we are only listening.
If I may paraphrase, God is saying: “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 at the Cross, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, and I am going to make you mine. End of debate!”
What a wonderfully Good News this is.
But did you see that God speaks about Your Sins?
Is God confronting us with Our Sins?
Is God speaking about you and me?
Yes indeed He is.
In the Bible God says that:
1) We all came into the world as sinners, in rebellion against God.
2) From the day we were born we all were dead in trespasses and sins.
3) We all walked according to the course of this world, loving the sins of this world.
4) We all were following the dictates of the prince of the power of the air, Satan.
5) We all were fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.
6) And we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
NONE of us were free from sin, and yet NONE of us were willing to make peace with God on God’s terms. We all were in rebellion against the God of the Bible. Therefore, we all were by nature the children of the wrath of God, even as others who never become saved.
Therefore, NONE of us could become saved, unless God Himself decided to have mercy on some of mankind, and these people God called the “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5).
And why did God color our sins scarlet?
Did you know that God commanded to use the color scarlet many, many times in the Ceremonial Law?
It was used in the curtains of the Tabernacle in the wilderness; it was used in the ephod, in the girdle, in the breastplate and in the robe of the high priest, and it was used in the ceremonial cleansing of a leper.
What was the Ceremonial Law pointing to?
It was always pointing to an aspect of the Gospel, especially the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you know what the color is of scarlet?
It is a deep dark red, like the color of blood. Our sins are colored scarlet, because our sins were the reason why Christ had to shed His blood. The Lord Jesus Christ had to shed His blood for the “Remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). And after Christ shed His blood for us, God the Holy Spirit had to give everyone of His Remnant a new soul, wherein righteousness dwells. And if God the Holy Spirit has not given someone a new soul, then that person still has a soul that is stained scarlet from sin, and that person has to cleanse his soul in Hell.
Therefore God states in the following verses that there is:
Salvation or Judgment?
If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken.
Those who are of a false Freewill gospel would immediately jump for joy, seeing in these two verses a proof text for their Arminian error.
However, that is not at all what the Hebrew text is saying. The primary meaning of the Hebrew word that has been translated “obedient” in Verse 19, is actually “hear” or “hearken”. If we “hearken” we have heard with our heart, and obedience is the result of it, but obedience is not the primary cause, it is not the primary action. Verse 19 should be read like this:
Isaiah 1:19 (YLT)
If ye are willing, and have hearkened, The good of the land ye consume
Isaiah 1:19 (LITV)
If you are willing and hear, you shall eat the good of the land.
But who is there who is willing to hear, who is there who is willing to listen to God?
Nobody, NO NOT ONE. Spiritually we were dead in trespasses and sins.
How can dead people become willing to hear?
There is only one-way: God has to make them alive. God has to give them a new soul so that they become spiritually alive. Only then will they be willing and hearken.
For example, think of Lazarus who was dead for four days, and who could not hear Jesus call, unless Jesus first made him alive so that he could hear Jesus calling. That is exactly the picture of our salvation: God the Holy Spirit has to make us spiritually alive; He has to make us Born Again.
If God does not make people spiritually alive, then they will continue in their rebellion against God, and they end up having to pay themselves the penalty for their own sins. Therefore God says:
But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken.
The Bible clearly defines God’s magnificent plan of salvation as the salvation of those whom God has chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. God says in:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him.
Those whom the Father has chosen are the only ones who are willing to hear what God’s magnificent plan of salvation is, because God the Holy Spirit gave them a new soul so that they became Born Again. The Sword that verse 20 speaks of is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And in this the Word of God is very clear when God says in Ephesians 2:8-9;
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
That is why we are here. We are here to worship the God who saved us. We are not here to worship a god who made it possible to save us. This is the doctrine of salvation that Christians believe. God chooses whom He wants to save, and God leaves all the others in their rebellion against God. This is the almighty, omnipotent God revealed in the Bible, and this is the salvation plan that God designed for our salvation. Any other representation of God is a man made image and not the God as revealed in the Bible. But today this God is not known in most churches.
2. A Faithful Church Went After Other Gods
How could this have occurred?
How could a faithful Church go after other gods?
How is the faithful city become an harlot? It was full of (judgment) (justice); righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
To whom is God speaking in this passage?
God is speaking to those who were mentioned in the previous verse: “If ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword”.
Worse yet: Formerly it was a faithful city.
Jerusalem at the time of King David was a faithful city. And Jerusalem was a picture of the Church, the Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the vision that God gave to Isaiah, Jerusalem became a harlot. It became the picture of a Church that has sold her body for material gain.
How could this have happened?
We can see it all around us, and many of us have personally experienced it. It is a sign of the times.
When a Church strives to please men, rather than please God, it no longer has the blessing of God. When a Church hangs on to traditions or ancient Confessions that are not quite Biblical, and adopts doctrines that bring down the greatness and sovereignty of the true God, then that Church is beginning to exchange the God of the Bible for a man made image.
The first result is that people are no longer becoming saved, because they no longer are under the hearing of the whole counsel of God. Since they are not saved they cannot see the difference between the true Gospel and a false gospel. The next step then is that they no longer see what sin is, and they exchange the Gospel of Grace for a works gospel.
What is a works gospel?
It is a plan of going to Heaven by something that WE DO. Any departure from the Gospel of “God’s Grace Alone” turns out to be a works gospel. For example, the Arminian gospel begins with: Christ died for the sins of everyone in the whole world, and now it is up to you to accept that gift of forgiveness, or reject it. God has done all He could, and now it is up to you to accept that gift of salvation. Actually they have given man the power to resist God’s grace, and they have made a god that does not have the power to save; their god only provides the possibility to be saved. But that is not at all the salvation of the Bible. In Verse 21 God says:
How is the faithful city become an harlot? It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
How could a Church become filled with murderers?
This is how: They are spiritually murdering their children, and murdering those whom they are witnessing to, by not bringing them the whole counsel of God, or by bringing them up in a false gospel so that they are prepared for Hell instead of prepared for Heaven. God continues to speak in parables: He says:
They have their Wine polluted with water In Verse 22 God says:
Isaiah 1:22 (YLT)
Thy silver hath become dross, Thy drink polluted with water.
Their silver, their noble metal, has become dross.
What is dross?
Dross is the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal; it is waste. Like a watered down gospel, it is good for nothing.
Their Wine is polluted with water.
What is wine pointing to?
Wine here is pointing to the Blood of Christ, it is pointing to Christ crucified for the sins of those whom He came to save. This is the focus of the Gospel. When God spoke to the Church at Corinth He said in:
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
This is the central action of God in Scripture: The Cross and the Blood of Christ.
But if the wine is diluted with water, then this is a picture that the true Gospel has been watered down, so that it pleases men more than it pleases God. If the god of the Arminian gospel only provides the possibility for salvation, then their god does not do the saving, and then their god is no longer God.
When the Gospel is watered down, inevitably God has been brought down, and man has been lifted up, so that god is no longer God. He is no longer the God who fills the universe, but he is only “yeah, hi.”
This is the desire of all mankind before we became saved. We all wanted to get right with God, but we did not want to get right with God on His terms. We all wanted our own god: A god in a box, like a genie in a box: a god who will perform our wishes when we pray to him. We wanted a god who will save us when we are ready to tell him to save us. And then, we want him to save us right now. And that is how all mankind generates images of God that they actually believe in.
How does a faithful church become a harlot?
God spells it out here in Verse 23
Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
They are Going after rewards.
The church rulers are rebellious against God, which means they are unregenerate. Therefore the church rulers become companions of thieves, which means they are using the church for their own material gain: larger salaries, and a more fanciful church building, and more social programs that cater to their own pride. Then they begin to include the reward system in their doctrines. Have you not heard in the past that the preacher quoted for example from Mark 9:41.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
And then these dreamers say: You see, if here on earth you strive to do good works in the name of Christ, you will receive extra rewards when you get into Heaven. The Bible says it right there. They have totally misinterpreted that verse. The doctrine of extra rewards is a very dangerous doctrine, because it is a religion of selfishness. Doing good works should not be motivated by selfish reasons, but by our gratitude for the salvation we have so freely received.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
When God gave His only begotten Son for us, He gave the best that he had. When Christ shed His blood for us, even gave His life, He gave everything that He had. And now God freely gives us all things that He has.
How could He give us extra rewards?
There is not anything left. The life with God, as sons of God, that God so freely bestows on us is already so great, and so beautiful, and so glorious. It is far more than we ever could imagine.
How dare we ask for more?
But when we search the Bible we find that the good works we do on this earth is nothing more than our duty to do. These are works which God has foreordained that we should do them. Watch out for those who bring you a gospel of extra rewards. They are bringing you a doctrine straight from Hell. They are catering to the flesh and to the world. Now let’s look at another aspect of Verse 23:
The stranger, the fatherless and the widow
What else do these blind leaders of the blind do?
Verse 23 again spells it out:
“They judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.”
They provide no justice for the fatherless or for the widows. Keep in mind that God is still speaking in parables. Have you not noticed how often, very often, in the Bible God speaks very lovingly and very caringly about “the stranger, the fatherless and the widow”, as if these are groups of people whom God specially cares for. For example in Deuteronomy 27:19 God says:
Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
To pervert the justice of the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, is listed together with other gross sins that are committed by those who are under the curse of God.
A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
God promises to be a Father to the fatherless, and to plead the cause of the widows in His holy habitation.
The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
God is contrasting “the strangers, the fatherless, the widows” with those “in the way of the wicked”, thereby indicating that “the strangers, the fatherless, the widows” are not among the wicked.
Does God only care for the physical needs of “the strangers, the fatherless, the widows”?
Of course not. Their physical needs have nothing to do with the Gospel. Keep in mind that God is speaking in parables. In all three cases God is speaking about His Elect People.
Who do the strangers represent?
The strangers are those who don’t have a homeland, but they are searching for a homeland. Like the children of Israel were strangers in the wilderness, but they were on their way to the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God.
Did they finally arrive in the Promised Land?
Yes they did. That is why God says that He preserveth the strangers. They are in need of the Gospel. They are presently unregenerate, but they are going to be saved.
Who do the fatherless represent?
The fatherless are those who presently do not have God as their Father. They also are in need of the Gospel. But God promised to be “A father of the fatherless”. Although they are presently unregenerate, they are going to be saved and God will be their Father.
Who do the widows represent?
The widows are those who presently do not have a husband. But God promised to plead the cause of the widows before the throne of God. Although they are presently unregenerate, they are going to be saved and Christ will be their Husband.
Therefore, when we read in the Old Testament about “the stranger, the fatherless and the widow”, keep in mind that in all three cases God is speaking about His Elect People who are not yet saved, but are going to be saved in due time.
In Isaiah 1:23 the church leaders are doing injustice to the fatherless and the widow, because
they are not preaching to them the true Gospel, which they need to hear. They need to hear it because “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. Since these are God’s Elect people, God Himself has to take care of “the stranger the fatherless and the widow”. God says:
3. Zion Shall Be Redeemed
Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
The first question we should ask is:
What is the “Therefore” there for?
The previous verse answers that question: Because the fatherless and the widow receive no justice, Jehovah of the armies, the mighty One of Israel takes up their cause. He will be their Defender and He will be avenged of His enemies.
Who do you think His enemies are?
Satan and all his demons, and all those people who stubbornly remain on the side of Satan are God’s enemies.
Think of that now. If you sit here under the hearing of the Gospel, and you are still not convinced, and you still do not believe all that the Bible says, then you are still one of God’s enemies. What a terrible condition to be in. But there is hope for everyone who is willing to listen to the Gospel.
Now the next question we should ask is:
When was the mighty One of Israel avenged of His enemies?
When was Satan cast out of Heaven?
Revelation 12:11 says: When the Lord Jesus Christ finished the payment for our sins on the Cross, that was the time when Satan and his demons were cast out of Heaven. Therefore, when you read Isaiah 1:24 the Cross is in view.
And whom did Christ die for?
Not for everyone in the whole world, but for that group of people indicated by verse 23: “The fatherless and the widow”, as they represent God’s Elect people, the Remnant chosen by Grace.
Before the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He said: “It is finished”.
What was finished?
He finished paying for our sins the payment that had to be made according to the Law of God. There was no Grace for Him. There was no stand in for Him. He paid the full price, which means that He had to pay the equivalent of an eternity in Hell.
And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin(alloy):
To whom is God speaking?
God is still speaking to “The fatherless and the widow”, representing God’s Elect people, the Remnant chosen by Grace, chosen before the foundation of the world. And God says: “I will return My hand upon thee”, not in wrath, but in Grace.
But how is God going to do that?
To take away our dross means that He is taking us through the fire.
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
Christ went through the fires of Hell for us and purged away our sins. Then He takes us in this life through trials and tribulations, which are for our own benefit. And when we have overcome these trials and tribulations, by the Grace of God, we see only Christ as our greatest Treasure.
And by God’s Grace He is also taking away all our tin, or alloy. First God works by fire and then by surgery. By God’s Grace He is taking away all the bad elements out of our midst, just like He did at the time that Isaiah was prophesying about. At the time that Jerusalem was destroyed, only a few thousand people remained, who were taken as captives to Babylon. That was extensive surgery, but it was necessary for the life of the Remnant.
And God continues to pour out His Grace upon the Remnant. God says:
I will return with righteousness Now we don’t have a thing to worry about.
And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
The city does not refer to Jerusalem that now is inhabited by physical descendants of Jacob. The Bible rarely calls Jerusalem a city of righteousness, or a faithful city. The condition of the Jews and Jerusalem is quite the opposite. We read in:
Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with her children.
On the other hand, a faithful Church is patterned after Jerusalem which is above.
We read in:
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Therefore the faithful city must refer to the Church. Today the Church is not governed by Judges, like it was 3400 years ago. Instead of Judges, God will give us Pastors, and instead of counsellors God will give us Teachers. If it is in God’s plan, then we will have faithful Pastors and Teachers, because it is only by God’s Grace if our Church remains faithful to the Word of God.
Zion shall be redeemed with judgment (Justice), and her converts with righteousness.
Zion, the place where God resides in the hearts and souls of the Believers, shall be redeemed with Justice. The Justice of the Cross of Christ. That was the only time in history when people were redeemed, were bought back, to become the property and the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when we were converted, in this century, we received the righteousness of Christ.
When Christ looks at us, He sees His Bride, His righteous treasure.
When the Bride looks at Christ, we see that He is our priceless Treasure.
By Alfred Chompff