Friday, August 18, 2017

Isaiah post 2 - Shema! (Chapters 1-5)

As I work my way through Isaiah, I am not going to record every single verse, but only highlights. I recommend reading along in your Bible.

Right off the bat in chapter one, Isaiah sets the stage for the entire book.  Verse one gives us a context of who this prophecy is for and what it is about, and then in verse 2, Isaiah says shema!
Hey everyone!  Hear what I have to say.  Pay attention!

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken!

Israel knows that word shema. It is the first word in their statement of faith, which begins in Deuteronomy 6:4 - Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.

What follows in Isaiah is a description of how Israel has sinned and has provoked the Holy One. It isn't a pretty picture. Verse 6 gives us a little foreshadow of what the suffering servant had to atone for in Isaiah 53:

From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.

Isaiah continues, and in verse 9, you will see the promise of a future remnant. There is always a remnant. God is faithful to keep His promises.

Verses 10-15 tell us the heart of the matter. Their celebrations had become an abomination to the Lord, because of where their hearts were. They were observing all the commanded holy days, but their hands were covered with blood. They were being compared to Sodom and Gomorrah.

God was being mocked. Just like He is today in our culture.


What follows is the solution, in verses 16-19.
Clean up your act.  Repent.  Turn away from the unholy and your sins will be washed away.  

God appeals because He loves us.  Your heart is precious.  You can give it to God or give it away.

Verse 18 bears a special look because it is well-known:  Come, let us reason together… it actually means let us settle the matter.  The foundation of the book is the Messiah and His atoning work, which is why we see the analogy of blood here.


The remainder of chapter one tells us that obedience brings blessing.  But there are also warnings!  Disobedience brings curses and judgments. God will refine them and purge the dross (which will then cause some to repent and return to blessing).  There will be restoration and redemption for the righteous, but destruction for the unrepentant.

Moving on to chapter 2, Isaiah jumps ahead 2700 years and we have a glimpse of the future millenial kingdom!  This is what we see:
  • God's holy mountain will be established (on the Temple Mount)
  • All the nations will come to it
  • The nations will no longer curse Israel but will actually want to be there
  • The Messiah will rule from there, and the Law will go forth from there
  • He will judge between the nations
  • Swords will be beaten into to plowshares - a time of peace and prosperity

None of this has happened yet, which is why we know it is still future prophecy.  Will these things happen soon?  I hope so!

The remainder of the chapter describes what a time it will be when the Messiah comes.  
  • Arrogant man will be humbled
  • People will be hiding in caves and rocks in terror (see Revelation 6:15)
    • This is repeated three times, in verses 10, 19, and 21.  When something is emphasized three times in scripture, it means PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION.
  • Everything proud and lofty (not just man) will be brought low
    • Again, this is repeated three times - in verses 11, 12, and 17.
  • The LORD alone will be exalted in that day
  • He will shake the earth mightily
  • Idols will be cast off
  • It will be GLORIOUS!
Continuing in Isaiah, chapter 3 is a tough warning to Israel and Judah.  God's pattern is always first to the Jew and then to the nations.  (Romans 1:16).  This warning is painful to read, because history has shown that this judgment happened again and again. Verse 9 highlights Sodom again:
And they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it.
Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves.
(See politically incorrect photo above)

People became apostate and fell into desolation, except for the remnant of the faithful. God in His mercy always leaves a remnant.

Chapter 4 breaks out with repentance, which often follows judgment for those who allow God to soften their hearts. What follows is verse 2, our first introduction to the Branch!

In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious;
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing
For those of Israel who have escaped.

What or who is this beautiful and glorious Branch of the LORD?  If you keep reading in chapter 4, you will see that this branch is linked to the cleansing and healing of the daughters of Zion.  We are going to see this Branch again soon - in chapter 11.  Chapter 4 ends with a strong picture of the coming kingdom, and mentions the tabernacle - a picture of God dwelling with us!  These temporary dwellings are built by Jews every fall during the seventh biblical feast of Sukkot - Tabernacles - which celebrates God dwelling with man.  The wedding chuppah is based on this dwelling.  And of course, the chuppah represents the bride and groom beginning their lives together, dwelling together in love.
An Israeli wedding under a chuppah

Chapter 5 opens with a song:

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard on a very fruitful hill.
He dug it up and cleared out its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes


This is a reference to the Song of Solomon.  Dodi means my beloved.  The vineyard is the house of Judah and Israel, and its owner is the LORD of hosts.  The LORD prepared the soil, removed the stones (Israel is very rocky), and planted the choicest vines.  But something went wrong.  The lush vineyard produced wild grapes.  The Hebrew word for wild is beushim - meaning stinking or worthless things.


What went wrong is that God did all these amazing things for Israel, but they fell into sin and idolatry.  This account of the vineyard is further developed in Matthew 21, in the parable of the wicked vinedressers.  When Yeshua was speaking to the Pharisees, they were most certainly thinking back to this account in Isaiah 5 and knew Yeshua was referring to them.  They were not happy about it.

Isaiah 5 continues, and verses 20-21 say

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

It sounds a lot like today, doesn't it?  The understanding of righteousness has been lost in today's culture.  There are agendas out there that promote abortion, homosexual marriage, evolution, and all manner of anti-biblical things. Truth tellers are called hateful bigots.

Therefore, the chapter continues, the vineyard will fall into grave disrepair.  Foreign nations will roar in like a lion and take their prey.  Darkness and sorrow will abound.  

I hate to end on a sour note.  But this is where chapter five leaves us.  It seems like all is lost.  But stay tuned, because our merciful God is not done yet!

Click here for next post.

To start at the beginning of this series on Isaiah, click here.


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