The backslidings of those who have professed relations to God are very provoking to Him and all departures from Him and opposition to Him are aggravated by the constant manifestation of His goodness and mercy toward the backslider.
Those who will break off their allegiance with sin are always welcome to come back to fellowship with Him.
1 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.
2 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.
3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
4 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.
5 ¶ Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 ¶ Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11 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.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13 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.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 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.
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 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.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
21 ¶ How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
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.
24 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:
25 ¶ And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
26 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.
27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
28 ¶ And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.
Isaiah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Isaiah 1:1-9 – The Ingratitude of a Favored Nation
This chapter forms the preface to the prophecies of Isaiah. It is a clear and concise statement of the points at issue between Jehovah and His people. Special urgency was given to these appeals, when first uttered, from the fact which was well-known to the Hebrew politicians and people, that Assyria was preparing for a great war of conquest, which would be directed specially against Jerusalem and her allies. This chapter is east in the form of an assize, a crown case in which God is both complainant and judge. The conviction of sinfulness which the prophet desired to secure, was sought, not by appealing to a code of laws which had been transgressed, but by showing the ingratitude with which Israel had repaid the fatherly love of God. It is the personal element in sin that most quickly convicts men. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). He “hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
Isaiah 1:10-20 – Religion without Righteousness Vain
The prophet points out, first the misery that had overtaken the country, Isaiah 1:4-9; and then the sins of the ruling classes, Isaiah 1:10, 17, 21-23. What may be called personal and private sins, such as drunkenness, vanity, bribery, and the oppression of the poor, are viewed in their public hearing, as bringing wrath and disaster on the whole nation. No man can sin by himself. His most private sins react on the whole community. Thistle-down floats far and wide. In reply, the nation pointed to the splendid ritual and innumerable sacrifices of the Temple service. But these observances only added to the tale of their sins, because they were formal and perfunctory. The sacrifice of God is a broken and contrite heart. The outward is absolutely worthless, unless it is the expression of the inward and the spiritual. But where a pure and holy spirit is present, the simplest forms are magnificent in their significance and value. To atone becomes the base of a ladder to heaven, and the thorn-bush flames with Deity. But forgiveness is freely offered to the guilty. Crimson and scarlet are the most lasting of all colors, and their removal impresses the completeness of God’s pardoning love.
Isaiah 1:21-31 – A Nation Purged of Dross by Disaster
The great lover of our souls does not abandon His people even when they spurn the first overtures of His appealing pity. Though they refuse to yield to them, He refuses to cast them off; and sets Himself by the cleansing judgments of His providence to wean them from the evil ways they have chosen and to win them back to Himself. If only Jerusalem had now listened to Isaiah’s earnest pleadings, she would never have been carried away into the seventy years’ captivity in a land of strangers. This is the cleansing fire referred to in Isaiah 1:25. Their ground of confidence, whether in themselves or their allies, would be destroyed, Isaiah 1:29-30; the ringleaders of the evil which had brought them to desolation would be exterminated; and there would emerge a new and purified people as in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Let us thank God for the cleansing fires in national and personal experience. Let us not fear them when plied by the hand of love. See Malachi 3:3 and John 15:2-3.
Isaiah 1:25—I will purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin.
The silver had become dross. Jerusalem, the chosen city, was filled with infidelity, formalism, impurity, and deeds of violence. She had been full of judgment, righteousness had lodged in her; but now, murderers. And this was the reason for the blows that had fallen upon her with such unsparing force. The whole land was now desolate; the cities burned with fire; only a small remnant of the people was left. The prophet, his patriot heart wrung with grief, compares her to a sick man in the last stage of disease, the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in it. Would it not be well for us to search our hearts, and ask whether there may not be some counterpart to this in our declension from our God, and the consequent suffering to which we have been brought? He loves us too well to allow the process of deterioration to go unchecked.
But here the Almighty Lover of his people resolves to bring his hand to the work of entire purging and cleansing. He will no longer simply punish. He will take away the men who had been his adversaries and enemies from the midst of his people, thoroughly purging away the dross and taking away all the tin. There is an immeasurable difference between punishing and refining. It is a great matter for the soul, when God ceases from the one and commences the other; and when we no longer suffer from the results of past sins, but are restored as at the first, and converted as at the beginning.