Studies in Isaiah; Perfection and His Promises
May 1, 2014

C. R. Oliver

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January 1, 2018

Studies in Isaiah
Perfection and His Promises

          Isaiah is the great "Re-introducer of God." In profound language, both in prose and poetry, he addresses a nation that had "forgotten with Whom they were dealing." In today's study of the first five chapters, there builds a crescendo of interaction between God and His people that will culminate in the wonderful sixth chapter.
          The character and person of the Lord manifests itself in emotional tides meant to show why God will no longer tolerate a nation of "disregard." Verbiage alone tells the story: nourished, brought up, rebelled, laden, forsaken and stricken. Reading these words in order causes the reader to understand the whole cycle of "those who have turned away backward."
          God's heart is heard in His multitude of appeals for His people to turn toward Him. Wash yourselves, put away evil, cease to do evil, learn, seek, reprove, defend and plead.

Midway in Chapter One comes that beautiful passage most quoted in evangelism:
Isaiah 1:18-20
Come now, and let us reason together,
Says the LORD,
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Within this heart appeal is a dire warning, resulting in a passage with two promises from the God whose words never fail: forgiveness with restoration or destruction. (There is no more salient word for America and the civilized world today.)

Sprinkled, throughout the text, are another set of words: purge, restore, redeem, hedge and draw near. These words tell the story of mercy and grace pouring out of a Father who will not see His children continue in sin without correction.

It is as if Isaiah was speaking to the nation as one person, and with urgency, saying, "If you could just see Who it is who loves you and is capable of caring for you, you would seek Him readily."

Isaiah is not alone in this quest. He is number six in the chronological line of the prophets. In order, they are: Obadiah (840BC), Joel (835BC), Amos 760BC), Jonah (760BC) Hosea (755BC), then Isaiah (740-680BC). They all call out for repentance.

The prophet penned a book often called the "mini Bible," because the number of chapters and subject matter parallel the Old and New Testaments. This alone would constitute the fact he was one of the best educated and sophisticated of the prophetic line. He was married to a prophetess and they had two sons. He was an urban dweller, living in Jerusalem and interactive with the rulers of the day. All this, however, did not keep him from being martyred by them: he was sawn asunder.

Wherever religious order rules as government, there is gross sin and corruption. It is true, whether in the Vatican, Islamic regimes or religious communities. Favoritism, rather than justice, prevails. Authoritarian edicts abound in such arrangements. These governments are not friendly to truth bearing prophets or the clandestine "man of God."

On the national horizon was Tiglath-Pileser, of Assyria, who would eventually conquer the northern tribes and take them away, thus, separating the civil war divided kingdom even further.

Picture after picture will be drawn for a nation that considered themselves, "above reproach." Isaiah draws closer and closer to the conclusion, "repentance is now or never." Penned 700 years before Christ, the portraits of the redeemer get clearer as they progress through the book.

Enter this book as you would approach a gallery; there are "things to see on every line." Pause and gaze at the pictures God draws and how similar are the "days of our lives." Take no word for granted, for all of them are placed as they form patterns that make a composite. They are so eternally relevant that its lines were quoted by Jesus and the disciples as they wrote.

The Themes of the following studies will be: Perfection and Promise:
These are the two areas:
1. The Holy One of Israel
2. His Promises to His Holy people
When the person of God is lost in religion, it is necessary to re-introduce Him to the powers that be and to the people who follow them. The further away God is from a person's everyday scene, the easier it is to perceive that the Lord does not care about sin or circumstances.

Yes, I am aware the first thirteen chapters of Isaiah address the sins of Judah. Yes, I am aware that other nations are also targeted. Truthfully, the bulk of this prophetic word is taken up in developing a greater and greater knowledge about Whom Israel is dealing. He is the Mighty God.

Recognizably, Isaiah's Oracles derive from the Great and Majestic God pictured in chapter 6. What about chapters 1-5? Respectfully, please dissect the passages dealing with the person of God and see if they don't draw you and the prophet toward chapter six with increasing revelation? I believe they do. I also believe that seeing the Lord, "High and Lifted Up," changes one's life forever and increases the boldness of one's witness.

Chapter One
          Situation: Jerusalem and Judah have a corrupted authority system which teaches corrupting ideologies. The Religio-governmental agencies had forgotten to whom they are answerable to: The Holy One of Israel.

Since they are ignorant of their benefactor, Isaiah's task is one of re-introducing the nation to their God. Since God's opinions matter, it is also necessary to let them hear His estimate of their "State of the union."

          God describes the religious leaders and their followers in succinctness, like a razor cut. I am sure their self-appraisal, concerning their activities, would include none of the following. God says they are:
Rebellious children, who have rebelled against Him
Ignorant subjects, who don't know their God, when even animals know where their food comes from, Israel does not. (They thought their economy and system functioned without God's intervention. After all, they were ruled by the highest of theologians.)
They are a sinful nation, a brood of evil doers (Their perversions were deeply pervasive and deeply engrained)
Corrupters (making disciples of sin and error ... taking innocent people and deceiving them.)
Those who turned their back on God: v. 4
Untrainable: God's past disciplines did not affect them. V. 5
Sick from head to toe: This is a major indictment, being called sick in the head (v. 6).
Their National scene is a disaster v. 7-9. They are like Sodom and Gomorrah.
(Being called Sodom and Gomorrah, in Israel, always draws fire. It did in Jesus' day, and it did here. [The reason this comparison agitates so much is that Sodom had no Bible, Israel did. They had considerable texts: the Torah, Job, Psalms, Solomon's writings and five other prophets. This is precisely why Isaiah, as well as other prophets, addresses the hierarchy as the "rulers of Sodom"]). This is like throwing the dead cat into the cathedral!
Isaiah, throughout his prophecy, refers to the whole nation of Israel as, "The Daughters of Zion." In Chapter One, God said that if He had not intervened, they would have perished. When a nation's excesses reach the attention of heaven-look out! What a graphic picture ensues!
Isaiah 1:8-9
So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard,
As a hut in a garden of cucumbers,
As a besieged city.
9 Unless the LORD of hosts
Had left to us a very small remnant,
We would have become like Sodom,
We would have been made like Gomorrah.
A booth in a vineyard is a ragged, torn frame, left flapping in the wind, abandoned after the harvest. A hut in a garden of cucumbers is a similar image. Both pictures get across the point that to God, Judah and Jerusalem look pretty "God forsaken."

Perfection Speaks:
1. Fact one: Your Religion Stinks. God's remedy is not more religious activity with an increase in sacrifices. His remedy is repentance and coming to Him.
2. Fact Two: "I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred embracing one another." V. 13 Amos said, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed?" (This indictment is applicable to the clergy and government of today!)
3. Fact Three: God said, "New Moons and Sabbaths and the calling of assemblies My soul hates (v13)." (Be careful Messianics, be careful!)
4. Fact Four: "Spreading out hands before heaven and making many prayers accomplishes nothing, 'I will not hear (your hands are full of blood).'"
          (Be careful charismatics, be careful about your declarations.)

Perfection Speaks: The Scripture below is His ONLY remedy: (This remedy would require a transformation in government and religion, during that day. It would do so in this day!)
Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean v. 16
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. V. 16
Cease to do evil v. 16
Learn to do good
Seek Justice
Reprove the oppressor
Defend the Fatherless
Plead for the widow
(Get the God kind of cleansing) v. 18

An Immutable Promise: Isaiah 1:18
Do these things and I will make you white as snow.
           If you are willing and obedient You shall eat the food of the land.
Don't do these things, you will be devoured by the sword!

A Promise of judgment: Series of "I WILL" passages, God determined outcomes. v. 24
I will rid Myself of My adversaries
I will take vengeance on My enemies
I will turn my hand against you and thoroughly purge away your dross, alloy
I will destroy the transgressors and sinner together (transgressors are those who once obeyed the law of God and turned away. Sinners are those who never knew God at all, v. 28.)
I will take away your places of lust and idolatry.

          A Promise of Deliverance: Isaiah 1:24-ff (This verse is connected to subsequent passages where God says their judgment will be the loss of these leaders. So, in essence, God is saying: "Once I have destroyed these, I will restore them as I first intended.")
I will restore your judges like the first
I will restore your counselors as at the beginning
I will see that Jerusalem is a city of righteousness and is faithful, v26
Zion will be redeemed with justice (righteousness)
Those who have repented will be redeemed with righteousness.

Gleaning from Chapter One:
God knows your every sin and shortcoming and is willing to talk to you about them.
God hates religious activity as a substitute for true repentance
The Lord sees through makeshift changes that do not affect the heart and one's way of life.
God makes a way to return to Him by re-establishing what has been lost:
          v. 21 (Jerusalem once was faithful and
          full of justice and righteousness.)
The Lord will not allow His Glory to be tarnished by His People. The law of God will prevail ( v. 10).
The Lord always re-asserts His Authority in Power and in Love.
          Note the beginning of v. 24 ...
          (I am) The Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel

Chapter Two:
          Isaiah takes his prophecy into the drawing room of God, and he shows the long range plan of the Lord for Judah and Jerusalem. Remember, sometimes it is necessary to step back and view the whole picture, rather than the fragmented one of the moment.
          There are several "sealed" passages in this chapter. They are sealed in the respect of being "unchangeable." No amount of prayer, repentance or countering decisions will change the outcome. Any passage that includes, "it shall come to pass," is a sealed passage.
Isa 2:2
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days

God is intervening in history. The prophet is looking far ahead, to a time when the Mighty God will choose to step into earth's affairs and change things.

Within this chapter are two phrases that appear in repetition.
l. "From the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty,( vs. 10, 21)."
2. "And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, (v. 11 and v. 17)."

Surrounding these passages are two variant scenes depicting "the day of the Lord." The first is a return to God's original purpose for Jerusalem and Judah. God intervenes and gives Isaiah a vivid picture of "that day." (This is similar to Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly Temple and how different was God's Temple from man's corrupt Temple in Jerusalem.) Verses 2-4 constitute a time when "God makes things right." All this culminates with an invitation in verse 5.
Isaiah 2:5
O house of Jacob, come and let us walk
In the light of the LORD.
Isaiah then gives God's view of Jerusalem and Judah in Isaiah's day. It is a far cry from what it could be. Should the rulers and people decide to follow the invitation of verse 5, things might be different in their immediate future, but alas, they do not respond to God's invitation.

Therefore, "God has left the scene." Isaiah hammers this truth: "Israel, you don't know with whom you are dealing."
Isaiah 2:6
For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob,
Because they are filled with eastern ways;
Let me say this now, America is filled with "eastern ways." The gods of millions invade its shores with insurmountable idolatry. Think of this when you attend your yoga class!

Now, the leaders of Israel did not think God had forsaken them. They were worshipping according to the Law, doing everything according to the Scriptures, except making Him Lord.
(Sound Familiar?)

Verses 6-22 are a checklist from God's notebook.

Alongside His notes is penciled what His intentions are regarding the situation.
The main judgment will fall on man's interjections into the affairs of the Lord.
Meddling where one has no business is a serious matter with the Spirit! Congregations are not able to determine what is God and what is man. (If there is a question: It AIN'T GOD!)
The people may get confused by the religious community, but their confusion will end in the "Day of the Lord."
The lofty looks of man will be humbled v. 11, 17
The haughtiness of men shall be bowed v. 11 and v. 17
Isaiah offers only one solution for Israel and us in this case:
                    SEVER YOURSELVES FROM MAN!
(Otherwise, you will be condemned by what you condone.)

Chapter 3:
Verse one re-introduces God, "Behold the Lord, the Lord of hosts."
It is as if the children of Israel never knew Him and needed an introduction.

Introducing Promises from the mighty God:

Fact, God is in the process of bringing national judgment.
           (A list of things that will come to pass follows His re-introduction.)

The Lord will use the following areas to bring correction. In the Old Testament, the breaking of the food chain is always a precursor of judgment. Corn, Wine and Oil are sources of wealth and provision; their absence (with the subsequent famine) is a prime method of God's anger.
Israel's national government will see these steps unfold, and they will know why. (Look out America.)
l. Food supply will be gone, "stock and store" vanishes and bread and water gone.

2. Leadership will fail vs. 2, 3. (Including: Military leaders [mighty men and men of war], down to the smallest unit "captains of fifty.") Religious leaders [diviners {those who speak for God} and elders]; Legislators (honorable men); Counselors (from those advisors to the King down to the social interpreters); Skilled workers (those who know how to fabricate, do complex tasks and design beautiful items); the enchanter ( the eloquent orator).
All these will be gone, wiped out. Their disappearance will be methodical and almost unnoticeable. The populous will awaken one day, and they will all be gone.
3. Control Changes: (vs. 4-7) Leadership is likened to children, "I will give children to be their princes." (Fitful, demanding, self-centered) Babies "shall rule over them."
One's own neighbor will inform on them and seek to oppress.
A sign will signify when this change has taken place:
"A child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base person (vile, low esteemed ones) will be insolent toward the honorable."
(This was portrayed beautifully during the debates in the 2012 presidential election.)

(Does anyone see the following things happening in America?)

Isaiah 3:12
12 As for My people, children are their oppressors,
And women rule over them.
O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err,
And destroy the way of your paths.
4. Desperate Measures: vs. 6-7 and 4:1
In an attempt to return to decency, grass root elections will be a
          plea for sanity.
Women, desperate for identity, will seek just any man to use his name.
(Currently, there is a rising emphasis on things of the past (such as past designs in clothing and furnishings.) Great interest is being paid to former eras and a return to less complex living-all this is right in the middle of a huge surge in greed.

5. Sexual mores fallen: v. 9
Isaiah 3:9
The look on their countenance witnesses against them,
And they declare their sin as Sodom;
They do not hide it.
Woe to their soul!
For they have brought evil upon themselves.
6. Conspicuous Consumption Attacked: v. 16-26
Women are often pedestalled and trophied by men and society.
(The latest fashions, the most desired accessories, the most opulent jewelry, the consort of wealthy men or the independence and prestige of high position are but some of the ways the world distributes or hordes its accolades.)

God addresses the daughters of Zion:
Isaiah 3:16
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
And walk with outstretched necks
And wanton eyes ...

Isaiah 3:17-18
The LORD will uncover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery:
God's Promise:
Fact: When the Lord says He will do something, count on it!

1. Isaiah 3:10-11
10 Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them,
For they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
For the reward of his hands shall be given him.

2. Isaiah 3:14
14 The LORD will enter into judgment
With the elders of His people
And His princes:

Isaiah 3:8
For Jerusalem stumbled,
And Judah is fallen,
Because their tongue and their doings
Are against the LORD,
To provoke the eyes of His glory

(The leaders, both civil and religious, have sinned.)

Isaiah 3:14-15
For you have eaten up the vineyard;
The plunder of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing My people
And grinding the faces of the poor?
Says the Lord GOD of hosts.

(Here, both Catholic and Charismatic stand guilty.)

Chapter Four: (Since chapter breaks are arbitrary; the indictment continues)
3. The spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.

Isaiah 4:4-5
4 When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, 5 then the LORD will create ...

(In this passage, we are introduced to two elements of cleansing.
Righteous judgment precedes the burning.
[There are three fires of God: Spirit, Judgment and Hell.]
Moderns have lost sight of the power of these two spirits.
After they finish their work, the Lord must do an act of creation.).

Look at what God creates.

4. The promise of a new day:

Isaiah 4:2-3
In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped.
3 And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy - everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem ...

Isaiah 4:5-6
5 then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. 6 And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

(Dear Reader: in this promise is His Presence and Glory. He plans to tabernacle with His people. Notice the remnant, after the judgment, how blessed they are. This is not a Temple, this is a place far more intimate than that.)
Evidently, God has a lot of things in store for an untoward generation such as ours, but to those who remain faithful and abound in righteousness, "It will be well with them." Remember God promised!

Chapter Five:
          Yes, we are covering a lot of territory, but it has a purpose. (We are moving toward Chapter six, where the Glory of God is manifested clearly, and there is no doubt of His Power and Magnificence.)
          Earlier, I mentioned the writings of Solomon were in Isaiah's background. No place is this more evident than in Chapter 5. The opening lines of this chapter are identical to the phraseology of the Song of Solomon. Reference to "My well beloved," opens the panorama of that great work. It is in this Song that revelation of God's Glory and Power is consummated, as well as the intimacy He desires with His Bride (Song of Songs 7, 8).

Since the vineyard of the Lord is His people, Isaiah poignantly shows the disappointment of the Lord in the product of His vineyard.

God asks a judicially simple question of the people:
Isaiah 5:3-4
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
4 What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
God places His case before them, and reminds them that His actions are justified because the plantings of the Lord have now been tampered with-instead of bringing about a sweet people, they are a wild bunch.

God tells them He has pruned the vineyard when necessary; he has fertilized properly and cared for the garden of His people by walling them away from harm and hedging them about with mercy. He is exonerated!

His path will now be that of a Mighty God, who is a husbandman of responsibility. He will tear out what is there and plant something that will be worthy. (God did; he tore away the Temple worship and established a work open to the rest of the world.)

"The Garden of the Beloved" in Song of Solomon was walled about and nurtured. The Shulamite was open-hearted to Him, letting Him plant what was pleasant to Him and according to His plans. (The Bride must be willing and responsive. The garden of our heart must be hedged about to be safe, and we must do nothing to break that hedge. Sin breaks it; self determination breaks it; apathy breaks it.)
Isaiah 5:5-6
And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will lay it waste;

Isaiah 5:7
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help
Notice the summary statement regarding His people:
Isaiah 5:12-13
They do not regard the work of the LORD,
Nor consider the operation of His hands.
13 Therefore my people have gone into captivity,
Because they have no knowledge;
This is not an indictment of ignorance, this is spiritual lack. God says He is justified in doing as He outlines.
Isaiah 5:16
But the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment,
And God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.
There are seven "Woe" passages in Chapter Five. Verse 8, Verse 11, Verse 18 are the first three, and they portray a presumptive people.

Verse 20 is different.

Verse 20 portrays a deliberate act which is designed to redefine the moral scene of the nation. It is an act of defiance that will not be overlooked. The Rabbi's of Re-definition were at work modifying, changing the structure of society and declaring untruth as though it was truth.
Isaiah 5:20
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Verses 21 and 22a, 22b depict a polarity pervasive in the society. God pictures the power elite of the society and the bootlegger as having one mind set.
Isaiah 5:24
They have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
God declares He is justified, because of their sins and transgressions, in carrying out egregious acts, and "no one will deliver in that day (vs29-30)."


We will begin there in next month's study.

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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