The Book of Isaiah
GOD GIVES SINNERS TIME TO REPENT
Text: ISAIAH 1:18-31
1. Isaiah chapter 1 has been likened to a courtroom scene. The book of Isaiah begins with God convening the court and stating the charges (1:2).
2. The Lord pronounces the nation Israel guilty (1:4), but God in His mercy and grace gives them an opportunity to repent (1:16-18).
3. “No more blessed proclamation of full amnesty is found in all the Bible than in this lovely verse. It is the offer of full judicial cleansing for every repentant soul, no matter how grievous his record may have been. Well may Isaiah be called ‘the evangelical prophet.’ A wondrous gospel pervades all his pages, though warnings of judgment are ever before us” (H. A. Ironside, Isaiah).
I. CHOICE BETWEEN OBEDIENCE AND DISOBEDIENCE (1:19, 20).
1. God, the Judge of the universe, has pronounced judgment upon wicked and rebellious Israel. But instead of overthrowing Israel, like He did with Sodom and Gomorrah, God offered them pardon (1:16-18).
2. Israel had a choice – obedience (1:19) or disobedience (1:20). Unfortunately they made the wrong choice. They continued in their rebelliousness, and the warning of verse 20 was fulfilled when the land was desolated by King Nebuchadnezzar and his army (cf. II Chron. 36:15-17).
3. We find here an important Bible principle. When sinners persevere in their rebelliousness, they will surely be judged and punished by God.
4. This is taught all throughout the Bible (cf. Lev. 26:32, 33; Gal. 6:7, 8).
5. If men obey God, they shall prosper (Isa. 1:19). True repentance leads to obedience and a willingness to do God’s will.
6. But when men disobey, they shall be punished (1:20).
II. CONTRAST BETWEEN THE HARLOT CITY AND THE RIGHTEOUS CITY (1:21-27).
1. The city is Jerusalem. She was precious to God but she turned into a harlot (1:21).
2. In the Bible, idolatry is referred to as spiritual whoredom. Jeremiah 3:2 says, “Thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness.”
3. Ezekiel 16:26 says, “Thou…hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger.”
4. Hosea 4:12 says, “The spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.”
5. This same symbolism is found in the NT (cf. James 4:4; Rev. 17:1, 2).
6. Jerusalem was God’s chosen city. Psalm 132:13 says, “For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.” Zion is Jerusalem (cf. Isa. 1:27).
7. Psalm 48:2 says, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”
8. Notice Psalm 48:2 says Zion is “the city of the great King.” That is precisely what Jesus said in Matthew 5:35.
9. Psalm 137:5—7 says, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.”
10. But Jerusalem became worldly and wicked, rebellious and idolatrous. The righteous used to dwell there, “but now murderers” (Isa. 1:21).
11. Today there are “gay pride parades in Jerusalem.” A parade scheduled for August 10 was cancelled on account of the war in Lebanon, but other homosexual events took place as planned.
12. This is why God compares Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa. 1:9, 10; Rev. 11:8).
13. Today the name of Jesus Christ is despised in Jerusalem. Today Jerusalem is a harlot city, but it will be transformed into a righteous and faithful city when the Lord Jesus Christ returns (Isa. 1:21-27; 2:1-5; 60:14; Zech. 2:10-13; 8:3).
14. Christ will return – “the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel” (1:24), and He will judge the wicked, whom He now refers to as His “adversaries” and “enemies” (1:24).
15. When the Lord returns, He will separate the dross from the good metal (1:25). Verse 26 refers to the restoration of Israel. After Jerusalem is purged – no more sodomites, no more witchcraft, no more unbelief – the Lord will restore it completely and it will once again be a faithful city (1:26).
16. This purging will be painful (1:28). Zechariah 13:8 says that two-thirds of the people in Israel will die. The antichrist will be worse than Hitler. We see shadows now with what is presently happening in the Middle East, Europe, etc.
III. GOD’S JUDGMENT UPON IDOLATRY (1:29-31)
1. When the Israelites worshipped their idols, they often went off into the woods and committed gross immorality. This is the idea behind “For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired” (1:28).
2. Isaiah compares wicked idolaters to a dying oak tree, “whose leaf fadeth” and “a garden that hath no water” (1:30).
3. wicked, idolatrous sinners are like sick, dying trees, ready to fall down and suitable only for the fire.
4. Sin is like a spark that starts a raging fire. We have in Isaiah 1:31 a vivid picture of hell.
1. Many great Bible teaches, such as Merrill Unger and W. E. Vine, see in the final verses of Isaiah 1 God’s judgment upon the antichrist and his idolatrous followers.
2. During the tribulation, idolatry will be worse than ever (cf. Rev. 9:20, 21).
3. Men will worship the antichrist and men will worship the devil (Rev. 13:4).
4. We are rapidly heading toward a fulfillment of these frightening prophecies.