Isaiah is an Old Testament book written by the prophet Isaiah based on the vision he received concerning Judah and Jerusalem during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah from approximately 710-740 B.C. The major theme of the whole book could be summed up in the phrase, “God’s plan for His people in the midst of their rebellion and disobedience.” Two major conflicts with other nations give the overall setting of the book. The first major conflict is in Isaiah chapter seven when the kings of Aram and Israel (Northern Kingdom) tried to invade Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom of Judah) and the second is in chapter thirty-six when King Sennacherib from Assyria threatened to destroy all the cities of Judah. The messages God gives Isaiah during these two major conflicts, and throughout the entire book, contain elements of judgment, hope, and redemption.

This lesson will focus on the first set of prophetic words that Isaiah gives God’s people found Isaiah 1:10-20 which are primarily the style of “judgment/rebuke.” Our title and main focus for this lesson will be on the subject, “Hear the Word of the Lord.” As one can easily notice from the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, God’s main method of communication is through men speaking His Words. Though the passage we are looking at contains some very harsh language, it all could have been avoided if the Israelites would have simply listened to God’s Word in the first place.

Specifically, in the Torah, God gave the Jewish people many warnings concerning what would happen if they disobeyed Him and rebelled against His commandments. One such place is found in Deuteronomy 29:24-25. Therefore, it is my sincere hope and deepest desire that today’s lesson, which was first given to the people of God over 2,500 years ago, will inspire and challenge you to, “Hear the Word of the Lord!” After you have heard the Word of God, I then pray that you will put it into faithful practice just as James wrote, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)


THE PASSAGE

Isaiah 1:10-20, “10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?

13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations — I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.

17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


POINT ONE // HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD!

Isaiah 1:10, “Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!”

  • Explanation: In this first verse God is in the middle of rebuking Israel and Judah because of their repeated disobedience. The rebuke started in verse two with God saying, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” It is clear from the accounts in 1-2 Chronicles/Kings that God’s people, starting with the Kings and priests all the way down to the shepherds, had devised a wicked scheme by joining the worship of Yahweh with the pagan practices of the nations around them. Shockingly, in this verse God calls His own people, “Sodom and Gomorrah,” which certainly means they have become vile in His sight.
  • Application: Today as Christ followers we should not forget to listen and follow God’s commands found in His Word lest we become detestable for any good work (Titus 1:16), get spat out of His mouth for being lukewarm (Rev. 3:16), and fall into His raging fire (Hebrews 10:26).

POINT TWO // GOD HAS NO PLEASURE IN RELIGIOUS WORKS!

ISAIAH 1:11-15, “11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations — I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!”

  • Explanation: During Israel’s time of rebellion and compromise the people were still faithful to have temple sacrifices, celebrate feast days, and even offer up prayers to God. However, God was not pleased in their religious actions because their hearts were full of wickedness as their hands served their own selfish sinful desires. Thus, by being divided in their dedication to God, He considered everything they did for Him to be, “meaningless.”
  • Application: We as disciples must not compromise our faith with the filth of this sinful world. Just like how Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters,” so too we should avoid joining anything with our worship to God. Though we may not mix “Buddha” with “Jesus,” like how the Israelites mixed Baal worship with serving Yahweh, some still might try to serve the idols of, “materialism,” “greed,” “lust” and “comfort” while trying to follow Jesus. Remember, if you ever try to mix serving God with the things of this world your worship will be considered, “meaningless.”

POINT THREE // STOP DOING WRONG!

ISAIAH 1:16-18, “16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

  • Explanation: God in His mercy and goodness does not leave the rebellious Israelites without hope, but rather graciously gives them a way to avoid His soon and coming judgment if they will do the following four things, (1) Wash their hands: Allow the Lord to make them new and clean again, (2) Stop doing wrong: Plain and simple- obey God, (3) Seek justice: Begin to treat the poor and oppressed with kindness and live by fair economic values, (4) Reason with God: Come to God and learn His ways, commands, and values. Therefore, if they were willing to do those things God promised to make their sins as white as snow, which means He would cleanse and forgiven them.
  • Application: According to Isaiah, no matter what a disobedient child of God has done there is still hope if they are willing to repent, stop doing what is wrong, begin to do what it is right, and learn the ways of God. On one hand, salvation is not the subject here, the lifestyle of the believer is so we should always remember that coming into a relationship with God can only be done by faith, not by works because, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” On the other hand, “faith without good works is dead.” (James 1:26) Putting it together, “the righteous will live [act out God’s commands] by faith!” (Hebrews 10:38)

POINT FOUR // IF YOU ARE WILLING!

ISAIAH 1:19-20, “19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

  • Explanation: Just like when Moses first received the 613 laws of God and the people were given a choice between “blessing and curse,” so too now God gives them a choice to decide who they really want to serve. Will they serve God 100% or will they serve something else? Likewise, as before in the Torah, God also gives Israel the consequences of their choices. God is reminding them that they are free to make their choices but not their consequences. Which are, (a) Eating the good of the land: By being safe and prosperous in their own country because they were willing and obedient to God’s laws or (b) Be devoured by the sword: When other nations come in God’s judgment because they rebelled and resisted His will for them.
  • Application: Since the beginning with Adam and Eve, even with Cain, God had always given man choice between good and evil. There is no “divine fatalism” or “pre-selected objects of wrath” in the Bible. God is patient today, as He was with Israel, because he is, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16), not just the elect or a certain few. John reinforced this in his first epistle when he wrote, “the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world!” (1 John 4:14) Therefore, make a choice today to live and serve God by rejecting the way of sin!

CONCLUSION

In closing, I would like to encourage everyone receiving this lesson to pray now and examine your life. Ask God to show you if there is any wicked way in you. First, if you have not been born again I plead with you to place your full trust in Jesus and repent of your sins. You need to be saved because if this is how God deals with His people, how much harder will it be for you to be saved?

Second, fellow disciple of Christ, if you have let sin reign in your life stop now before it is too late. Do not let your heart be hardened with the deceitfulness of sin and turn away in unbelief. Repent of your wickedness and lukewarm heart and ask God to cleanse you again and baptize you with the fire of His Holy Spirit. Lastly, let both the new believer and renewed disciple join with the holy and established people of God to fully obey and live out His perfect will. Amen.


“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

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