Tonight we are going to pick back up in the Book of Isaiah. This is actually our 19th lesson from this Book. Instead of preaching from Isaiah every night, I have spread these lessons out on purpose. Personally, I have learned a lot from this Book.
We are getting close to the end of these 66 chapters found in Isaiah. Tonight, we will look at these four chapters. Homer Halley has titled these four† chapters as SINS OF ISAIAHíS DAY, and he gives the following summary:
Profaning the Sabbath; Gluttony of Israelís leaders; prevalence of Idolatry, with its vile practices; punctilious in fasting, yet practicing flagrant injustice; all to be surely avenged.
Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the LORD: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed.† 2 Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil."† 3 Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, "The LORD has utterly separated me from His people"; Nor let the eunuch say, "Here I am, a dry tree."† 4 For thus says the LORD: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant,† 5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.†
Isaiah starts out with encouraging words to the Jews, eunuchs, and Gentiles. The simple truth is that if they will keep the covenant, which included keeping the Sabbath, they will get to taste the righteousness of God. He warns them to not let the eunuchs or the Gentiles speak negatively about Godís ability to help them. The best the news is that all who are willing to keep Godís covenant, will be given a place in His house and will be given an everlasting name. According to Isaiah 62:2, this would be a new name.
When were Jews, eunuchs, and Gentiles given a new name and what is known as the house of God? It was in the N.T. Paul calls the church the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). Those found in the house of God were called by a new name, Christian:
Acts 11:26 †And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
While the remnant of Jews, eunuchs, and Gentiles that were keeping Godís covenant under the law of Moses would certainly be blessed by Him, I can also see our verses pointing to the †blessing that all would have as they obeyed the new covenant created by Jesus.
Isaiah 56:6 " Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants -- Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant --† 7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations."† 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, "Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him."
Before I go any further, I want to mention that there are different opinions on whether or not this chapter points to the time of the Messiah or just talks about the near future of the Jews. Personally, I can see both, but there are only a few references in these verses we have looked at so far that would indicate them pointing to the time of Christ. We already looked at some of them such as every obedient person to God receiving an everlasting name and being in the house of God. Then in verse 8, it talks about others be gathered to him, which could be talking about how the Gentiles would be gathered together with Jews as one under the new covenant. This verese may have been what Jesus was talking about in:
John 10:16 "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Verse 7 does not help us a lot either because it refers to the house of prayer, which Jesus said was the temple when He running out the money changers. Yet, the verse also says it would be called a house of prayer for all nations, which again would include more than just the Jews.
In my opinion, while it is interesting to figure out whether this chapter is a dual prophecy and which parts point to the time of the Mesiah and the near future of the Jews, we can still learn from these verses that if we remain faithful to God, we be blessed by God. No doubt, no one can deny that all nations received their greatest blessing in the first century when Christ died for us all.
Isaiah changes his topic from one of hope to rebuke.
Isaiah 56:9 All you beasts of the field, come to devour, All you beasts in the forest.† 10 His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.† 11 Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory.† 12 "Come," one says, "I will bring wine, And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink; Tomorrow will be as today, And much more abundant."
Here Isaiah speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and he invites their enemies to come take them over because the watchmen and the shepherds, which is referring to the leaders of the Jews are not leading according to Godís Word, they are doing their own thing and feeding their own desires. Since they are not guiding and protecting the people with accordance to Godís Word they are ready to be plucked up because God will not protect the rebellious. We see more of this in the next chapter as well. One thing leaders in the church can learn from this is how important it is that they remain watchful over the flock in accordance to Godís Word. If they do not, that flock can become vulnerable and lose its blessing and protection from God.
Isaiah 57:1 The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil.† 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.
The Jews had become so corrupt that it did not bother them when those who were still faithful to God were put to death, but words of comfort are given for the righteous that will be killed. They would not have to suffer the great persecution and captivity from the Babylonians and they would enter a state peace and rest. Though the O.T. does not speak that much about the afterlife, †Isaiah makes it clear that the righteous dead will be in a much better place just like we are promised as Christians.
I have heard people say, I am glad so and so is not alive to see this happen. Though some may miss out on lifeís events, we must never forget that death is simply the beginning of eternity off this earth.
Isaiah 57:3 " But come here, You sons of the sorceress, You offspring of the adulterer and the harlot!† 4 Whom do you ridicule? Against whom do you make a wide mouth And stick out the tongue? Are you not children of transgression, Offspring of falsehood,† 5 Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree, Slaying the children in the valleys, Under the clefts of the rocks?† 6 Among the smooth stones of the stream Is your portion; They, they, are your lot! Even to them you have poured a drink offering, You have offered a grain offering. Should I receive comfort in these?† 7 "On a lofty and high mountain You have set your bed; EVEN there you went up To offer sacrifice.† 8 Also behind the doors and their posts You have set up your remembrance; For you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me, And have gone up to them; You have enlarged your bed And made a covenant with them; You have loved their bed, Where you saw their nudity.† 9 You went to the king with ointment, And increased your perfumes; You sent your messengers far off, And even descended to Sheol.† 10 You are wearied in the length of your way; Yet you did not say, 'There is no hope.' You have found the life of your hand; Therefore you were not grieved.
This is describing how many of the Jews have turned from God and took up the practice of following many different false gods and other practices such as sorcery. They had become so comfortable with their wicked ways and idolatry that they could not see that they had no hope in these false things that were contrary to Godís way. Many are† like this today. They feel so comfortable with their worldly practices that they cannot see clearly that the world does not offer them hope, but gloom and doom in the afterlife.
Isaiah 57:11 " And of whom have you been afraid, or feared, That you have lied And not remembered Me, Nor taken it to your heart? Is it not because I have held My peace from of old That you do not fear Me?† 12 I will declare your righteousness And your works, For they will not profit you.† 13 When you cry out, Let your collection of idols deliver you. But the wind will carry them all away, A breath will take them. But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land, And shall inherit My holy mountain."
Here we see a comparison between God and the false gods that the Jews had embraced. God has the power and the ability to deliver them from their enemies, but these false gods they have embraced do not because, they are worthless gods made up by the mind of man. Many people are going to have their eyes open when they die because, they are going to realize that they should have lived their lives for God instead of like the world. How sad it is that it takes death for some people to realize that truth when it is too late for them.
Isaiah 57:14 And one shall say, "Heap it up! Heap it up! Prepare the way, Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people."† 15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.† 16 For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.† 17 For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.† 18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, And restore comforts to him And to his mourners.† 19 "I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near," Says the LORD, "And I will heal him."† 20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.† 21 "There is no peace," Says my God, "for the wicked."
Here we have a word of comfort to the remnant that are faithful to God. Isaiah reminds them of God and that He is an eternal being that is heaven and in them. He tells them that God will not stay angry at them or allow them to remain under oppression by their enemies because He will be merciful to them. He will heal His people. Verse 19 talks about the peace that God gives, but we all know that the greatest peace that have been given to mankind came through Jesus. Paul quotes verse 19 in Ephesians 2:17 in association with Jesus.
The principle of these verses should be encouraging to us because it shows the mercy of God. Yes, He does punish the wicked, but He is also merciful and is willing to forgive us and bless us when turn back to Him.
As pointed out in verses 20-21, those who refuse to turn back to God and persists on living a sinful life are like a restless sea, which can never rest or peace. This reminds me of what John records in:
Revelation 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
Our nation could learn a great lesson from this chapter, which is if you continue down the path of the wicked, you will be brought low, but if you repent and turn back to God, you will be established and be a great example to the rest of the world.
Letís move on† to chapter 58.
Isaiah 58:1 "Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.† 2 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.† 3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?' "In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers.† 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high.† 5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the LORD?
God wants Isaiah to speak out to His people. He was not to hold back or sugar coat the truth about their sinful ways. This is just the opposite of what people want done today. They want preachers to be quiet about sin and not rebuke anyone, but that certainly is not Godís way. Though this rebuke was directed to the Jews of that time, we could use the same rebuke to those who call themselves Christians today who are only a Christian in name.
At first, verse 2 may look like a compliment to His people, but the reality is that this is describing what they thought they were doing. From their perspective, they felt like they were being very religious and honoring God, but the truth of the matter was that they were not. Everything they did was with the wrong attitude. Isaiah says it best in:
Isaiah 29:13 Therefore the LORD said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
In verses 3 Ė 5 we learn that the Jews were fasting a lot. The only fast that God commanded was during the day of atonement (Lev. 16:29-31). The Jews were fasting for whatever reason moved them and then wonder why God has not noticed them. This was a practice that continued to be a problem for the Jews in the first century as well in which Jesus warned His disciples about in Mt. 6:16. They were doing fasts for themselves and for show to others to get their praise and their pity. Man has a tendency to talk the talk but not walk the walk. There are many today that are just like these rebellious Jews.
Isaiah 58:6 " Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?† 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?† 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.† 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,† 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.† 11 The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.† 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
Isaiah already answered the Jewís question of why God was paying attention to their fasts and now tells them what kind of fast God does want that will get His attention. Of course, the fasting in verse 6 is used metaphorically to describe how God wants them to serve others that are in need. When they do this it will cause them to be a shinning light, and God will be with them and continue to bless them. This same principle is taught in the N.T. as well because we are to serve others that are in need and allow them to see Christ in us.
Isaiah 58:13 " If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words,† 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken."
Once again, Isaiah is teaching His people to take Godís commands seriously. If the people will honor the Sabbath and consider it a delight instead of trying to do their own things and speak their own words, then they will be pleasing to God and be blessed by Him. While this message was specifically to these Jews, we can certainly make application to ourselves in that we need to honor God every day by keeping His commandments. When it comes to the Lordís day, which is today, we should delight in it and not speak our own words or do our own thing, but observe the day as God would want us to according to His word in the N.T.
Our last chapter for tonight is chapter 59. This chapter will show that sin separates us from God and that God is the only solution to our sin problem.
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.† 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.† 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.† 4 No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.† 5 They hatch vipers' eggs and weave the spider's web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a viper breaks out.† 6 Their webs will not become garments, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And the act of violence is in their hands.† 7 Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths.† 8 The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace.
God has never been the problem. He has always had the power to save, but man will allow sin to separate him from God. We always have a choice to either sin or choose the righteous path. As Isaiah has pointed out over and over again, his people were drowning in sin and God is pictured as hiding His face and not hearing their pleas. All these different sins are mentioned that they were guilty of. While this is referring to the sins of the Jews during that time, these same words could be used to describe the behavior of the Jews in the first century who were opposed to Jesus and His disciples.
The message of these verses are clear and apply to us today as well. If we chose the pathway of sin, our sin will separate us from God and we shall not know peace.
Isaiah 59:9 Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!† 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places.† 11 We all growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We look for justice, but there is none; For salvation, but it is far from us.† 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And as for our iniquities, we know them:† 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.† 14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter.† 15 So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
This describes the result of Judahís sins. These Jews had become so corrupt that there was no help for them. They were so far removed from the truth that they were walking around like blind people that have to feel around to find their way. Justice was not being served, but the false way was growing by leaps and bounds. If anyone among them did stray away from the evil way toward truth, they would become prey. I cannot help be see our nation starting look just like the Jewish nation during this time. There is a major battle going on right now between holding on to Godís standard for His people and the new standard that the world wants. More and more, those that are taking a stand for truth are becoming prey for the evil ones of this world.
Isaiah 59:15 †Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him That there was no justice.† 16 He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.† 17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak.† 18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay.† 19 So shall they fear The name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.† 20 " The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," Says the LORD.† 21 "As for Me," says the LORD, "this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants," says the LORD, "from this time and forevermore."
This last section shows how man by himself is hopeless lost without intervention by God. While God would intervene for His people and have them freed so they could rebuild the temple and their city, ultimately this last section points to Jesus and how He would end up being our intercessor and our redeemer. Paul makes it clear that Jesus is our redeemer as he quotes verse 20 in Rom. 11:26-27. Paul also uses this thought of putting on righteousness as a breastplate to describe what Christians are to do in Eph. 6. Finally, verse 21 talks about the covenant God would have with His people, which is referring to the new covenant that Jeremiah prophesied of in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
We should consider ourselves blessed because without God and His mercy and grace, we would all be lost. There would be no hope for us because of our sins, but glory be to God that He provided a redeemer to reconcile us back to Him. Thanks to Jesus, our intercessor and mediator, we have been given the power over sin so that it can no longer separate us from God as long as we continue walking in the light. So, let us never cease to rejoice and thank God for intervening for us and making salvation possible for us. Let us never take this great salvation that God has provided for us for granted. Let us learn from the mistakes that the Jews in †O.T. made and stay true to Godís Word and count it a delight to live for Him every day of our lives.