It’s Not Just Judah that Needs to Repent

July 18, 2018 at 12:51 PM 1 comment

While reading the opening chapters of Isaiah this morning, as outlined by my Bible reading plan, I was struck once again with just how tragically God describes Israel and specifically Jerusalem or Zion, which became part of the southern kingdom of Judah after the nation split into two distinct kingdoms. After a very brief introduction by the human writer of Isaiah (v. 1), the prophet conveys the word that he had received from God.

2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
4 Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged. (Isaiah 1:2-4 ESV)

I hope you took the time to really concentrate on what God said through the prophet about Judah in the above verses. As is normal for Hebrew poetry, the same idea is often restated using different figures of speech or metaphors. This creates an emphatic and unmistakable understanding of exactly what God is trying to portray. He is emphasizing and does so by offering several statements, which essentially mean the same thing, but say it differently.

The prophet Isaiah notes that the heavens themselves and the earth should “give ear,” meaning nature itself and all who live under the heavens and on the earth should consider what God has to say. It is God getting the attention of His Creation so that they are without excuse.

God plainly states that the “children” He has reared (raised) “have rebelled against” Him. I cannot imagine the pain of being a parent and in spite of everything you do, you see one or two children you’ve poured your heart into watch them turn against you and reject you and your ways. That has got to hurt quite a bit. Fortunately, the two children we raised are both Christians and are married to fine Christian people. It is interesting to watch them carry on with their lives and see how important things are to them. This is not always the case and while sometimes it is the fault of the parent, in too many cases, it is the fault of a rebellious child who sees harm from parents who truly love and have sacrificed for them.

God is upset here and rightly so. He bemoans the fact that while animals know their owners (v. 3), Israel seems to have no clue about God. The reality is that God Himself created that nation from the loins of Abraham and cared for them every step of the way in their development. Yet, in spite of God’s excessive love and grace continually extended to the nation of Israel, they repeatedly rebelled against His Kingship and rule over them. Today’s Israel continues down this same path of destruction with leaders who are what we might call “social Jews,” as opposed to people who earnestly seek God. The nation is heading toward a date with judgment, the Bible calls the “day of the Lord” (Isaiah 24:21-22; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 30:3-4; Revelation 6:15-17, etc.).

Verse 4 tells us how God feels about Israel, calling them a “sinful nation,” and “a people laden with iniquity,” “offspring of evildoers,” and “children who deal corruptly!” Ultimately, we can almost hear God’s gavel slamming down on the judgment bench as he declares, “They have forsaken the Lord…they are utterly estranged.”

My goodness, we read these words and marvel. How can a group of people who were called by God, protected by His Presence, given every opportunity to succeed, yet overall, time and time again, failed miserably to rightly respond to God’s loving care? How could this happen?

The people knew all about sacrifices and offerings, but God wanted no more of it because He knew it meant nothing to the people!

11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats. (Isaiah 1:11 ESV)

God doesn’t want one more sacrifice. He considers it all “trampling” of His courts (v. 12) because there was absolutely no sincerity of heart in the worshiper. They did it because they had to do it – out of superstition – not because they genuinely wanted to do so.

The first few chapters of Isaiah are quite an indictment against Judah. They had the Law. They had the prophets. They had the testimony of wonderful leaders like Moses. However, it was to no avail because none of it was truly internalized, which would’ve caused true growth and commitment to God. Instead, the “religion” that the Israelites involved themselves in was simply external, going through the motions. It was a show to convince themselves that they were doing it correctly. Unfortunately, they were to learn that the external robes of “righteousness” they believed they wore, were actually nothing. In fact, it was less than nothing because it offended God greatly.

Chapter 2 of Isaiah speaks of the future, even from our viewpoint. Here, God points out that one day, in the future, the Mountain of the Lord in Jerusalem will be the place where all the nations will go to worship God from a pure heart. This has never occurred in history before and for those who would take this as hyperbole, metaphor, or figure of speech, there are many passages in Scripture that point to the literal fulfillment of this.

There will come a day when Israel will be the most important nation in all the earth. People will actually find Jewish people to go with them to the Mountain of Jehovah in order to worship God. Today? There is much acrimony directed against Jews and Israel and has been for many, many decades in modern history. We’re definitely not there yet, but we will arrive to that point one day, in God’s timing. God keeps track of all of it and one day, He will pour out His judgment on the nations because of it.

Starting in verse 6 of Isaiah 2, the prophet reverts back to Israel and how evil they had become during his time.

6 For you have rejected your people,
the house of Jacob,
because they are full of things from the east
and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines,
and they strike hands with the children of foreigners.
7 Their land is filled with silver and gold,
and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
and there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:6-8 ESV)

At this point, the Israelites had become exactly like their neighboring nations. They had adopted the practices of idolatry and fortune-telling. To “strike hands” with foreigners means to join with them in the same goals; kind of like a “high-five” today or a gentleman’s handshake. They have all they need and think that idolatry is the way to go, worshiping things they made with their own hands as their “gods.” Verses 12 to the end of chapter 2 once again explain God’s plan to turn His wayward children back to Him. It will be brutal. It will cause pain, but in the end, it will result in God’s glory and Israel’s undying commitment to Him.

Isaiah 3 goes into even greater detail, explaining how God will work to bring the rebellious Israelites back to Him. He will use a great deal of external pressure to force the Israelites to recognize that He and He alone as God is the only God who should be worshiped. It will be very painful for the remnant of Jews living during this coming future time (The Tribulation/Great Tribulation), but the results will refine and prove their mettle. On the other side of this coming purge, they will be forever aligned with God and His purposes, never to fall again through rebellion.

But lest we think we as Christians are safe, we would do well to remember that even though authentic Christians receive the imputed perfect righteousness of Jesus when we receive salvation, it behooves us to understand that we can also easily become wayward in life.

In the United States, there are more churches than can be counted in any given city or town. If you happen to live in the “Bible Belt,” you know that you cannot drive down the road without passing three, four, five, or more protestant churches. I am still amazed at the size of some of these buildings and can only wonder where they get enough people to fill them.

American Christians tend to kid ourselves into thinking that America is a Christian nation because so many people go to church. Certainly, going to church is good. It is necessary and hopefully, you attend a church where the Word of God is rightly divided faithfully. Unfortunately, there are too many churches that do not fit that mold. They are “ego-centric” in that they cater not to God but to the whims of society and the people within that church.

Just because we are saved, this does not guarantee that we are committed to God’s will and ways for our life, which is a daily decision we need to choose. Like the Israel of Isaiah’s day, we can be caught up in the idolatry of this world. Are we focused on the wrong thing – job opportunities, buying a larger home, getting a better car – or are we content to live within the means that God has provided for us and simply look and wait for Him to direct us into service opportunities for Him?

It is way too easy to become enamored with what this world has to offer. How often do we “high-five” people of the world or their ideals? How often do we tend to replicate what we see in the world ultimately adopting patterns of speech and ways of life? It’s not that we cannot participate in various activities that occur in the world, but where is that fine line between that and jumping in with the world, doing exactly what they do?

Why do you go to church? Do you go because you believe you need to, because you want to spend time learning from God’s Word and enjoying fellowship with other Christians? Do you go because “Well, it’s Sunday, and Christians are supposed to go to church on Sundays (and Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights)“?

Ancient Israel (as well as today’s Israel), provides a dramatic lesson to us revealing how easy it is to get lazy in our faith, to do things out of habit, but with no concern for their reality or consequences of poor decisions. It is a very slippery slope. We must guard ourselves against this! If we are not careful, God may choose to chastise/discipline because of our waywardness. He would do so because of His great love for us.

Christian, let’s strive to commit ourselves to God daily. Let’s strive to stay close to Him. Let’s endeavor to deepen our relationship with Him through the reading and absorbing of His Word, through gathering of other Christians for fellowship and to live the way He wants us to live. It’s your choice. As a Christian, you have Christ’s righteousness imputed to your account. You are saved. However, you can still choose to live like the devil. Please don’t.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Reading Through the Bible God in My Everything?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. rutnerh  |  July 18, 2018 at 2:45 PM

    Amen, brother, well written commentary on the apostasy of the Hebrews, God’s Forever Chosen people among humanity….also applicable to Christians, the “other sheep” in Jesus’ flock. Early Christians were persecuted for about 300y by both Romans and Jews, but became persecutors under Constantine’s paganized Christianity aka Imperial Roman Catholic Church. He was the unacknowledged founder and first self appointed Pope of the heretical RCC which persecuted and martyred true believers in western Europe for over 1300 y.
    Tragically all lukewarm CINOs and unbelievers rejecting Jesus’ offer of eternal salvation are destined to an eternity in a literal hell per Jesus, unless personally born again like Nicodemus in John 3. This applies to all Jews and later to Christians. Verse 7 clearly differentiates singular thee and plural ye, a distinction regrettably lost in several popular Bible mis-translation like NKJV, NAS, NIV, etc, all using you in both cases. But some correctly use the Texas style you all.



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