November 17, 2014

Today you should read: Isaiah 1

I hate being the bearer of bad news. Many of you can remember the walk of shame into the house when you had a bad report card or failed exam. Or the sting of having to tell someone about the death of a loved one. Or you may remember how anxious you were as you went to confront someone about an issue.

While we all have experienced this at some time or another, none of us knows the weight Isaiah felt when he penned this exhaustive book of scripture. He had the responsibility to proclaim God’s message of disappointment, frustration, and judgment to Israel. These were Isaiah’s people. These were his friends. Yet, now he had to put that aside for the purpose of being God’s prophet in a troubled time.

Here’s some really solid introductory material on the book of Isaiah that I found helpful:

The central theme of the book is God himself, who does all things for his own sake (48:11). Isaiah defines everything else by its relation to God, whether it is rightly adjusted to him as the gloriously central figure in all of reality (45:22–25). God is the Holy One of Israel (1:4), the One who is high and lifted up but who also dwells down among the “contrite and lowly” (57:15), the Sovereign over the whole world (13:1–27:13) whose wrath is fierce (9:12, 17, 21; 10:4) but whose cleansing touch atones for sin (6:7), whose salvation flows in endless supply (12:3), whose gospel is “good news of happiness” (52:7), who is moving history toward the blessing of his people (43:3–7) and the exclusive worship due him (2:2–4). He is the only Savior (43:10–13), and the whole world will know it (49:26). To rest in the promises of this God is his people’s only strength (30:15); to delight themselves in his word is their refreshing feast (55:1–2); to serve his cause is their worthy devotion (ch. 62); but to rebel against him is endless death (66:24).

A microcosm of the book’s message appears in 1:2–2:5. The Lord announces his basic charge against the people: they have received so much privilege from God and ought to be grateful children, but “they have despised the Holy One of Israel” (1:2–4). He describes the purpose of the various judgments they face, namely, to bring them to repentance, or at least to preserve a remnant who will repent (1:5–9). Judah is very diligent to observe the divinely appointed sacrifices, but the people’s hearts are far from God, as their unwillingness to protect their own weakest members exhibits (1:10–20). The Lord called his people to be the embodiment of faithfulness in this world, and yet they are now filled with rampant unfaithfulness at every level (personal, religious, and social); but God intends to purge Zion of its sinful members and set her up as a beacon of light for the whole world. In view of this glorious future, Isaiah’s contemporaries should commit themselves afresh to walking “in the light of the Lord” (1:21–2:5).

There are two main thoughts I want to leave with you today:

1) Maybe God is calling you to be an Isaiah in someone’s life. Is it time for you to share the message of salvation with a friend or family member? Is it time to have that tough, confrontational conversation that you’ve avoided? Step across the line as the Holy Spirit leads. The time may be now.

2) Maybe you’re the recipient of the hard words. Have you been disobedient? Are you straying from your First Love? Do what Isaiah was telling Israel to do: repent and fall into the arms of grace.

What did God teach you in Isaiah’s first chapter? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Blessings, dear friends.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

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Author: cpclexington

Lexington & Richmond KY

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