Monday, February 9, 2015

Israel’s Rebellion Against God

Isaiah 1:1-15

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” (Isaiah 1:1)

Isaiah prophesied from about 750 BC. until about 670 BC, during the reign of four kings.   Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah served the Lord, while and Ahaz did not.   During this period there was a general movement away from serving God by the people. although there was a resurgence of following him during Hezekiah’s reign.  After Hezekiah’s death, the downward spiral began in earnest with only a few brief interruptions until the time of Christ.  Knowing this gives us a basis for understanding much of Isaiah’s prophecy.  The prophecies are not in chronological order.

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.  The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.  Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.“ (Isaiah 1:2-4)

Even donkey or a cow knows to come when their owner goes to the feed trough so they can get food.  Israel doesn’t seem to understand that, acting like an animal that has never been handled, fighting to escape and spilling the food all over the ground.   Such behavior may be expected from one who has been abused or never been in a corral, but from one who grew up in constant contact with the owner it is really frustrating.  God had done everything for Israel and Judah for seven hundred years, and their behavior was frustrating to God.

“Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.  Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.  And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.” (Isaiah 1:5-8)

Judah was like an animal that goes into a panic, kicking and fighting and injuring itself in its efforts to get away.  The more they hurt themselves, the worse their panic gets, and nothing you can do really gets through to them.  All you can do is let them wear themselves out and hope they don’t hurt themselves too badly.    Under Ahaz, Judah was defeated by Israel and two hundred thousand were taken as captives.  Ahaz hired the Assyrians under Tilgathpilneser to help defeat Edomite and Philistine invaders.  Instead the Assyrians took the opportunity to spoil them further.  Panicked, Ahaz turned to the Syrian religion. 

“Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)

If it hadn’t been for God’s intervention to protect them, Judah would have been completely destroyed as a result of their rebellion against God.  They would have been as completely wiped out as Sodom or Gomorrah. 

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.  To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.” (Isaiah 1:10-11)

Like an unfaithful husband who goes and buys his wife as flowers to distract and mollify her, Judah was offering sacrifices to try to mollify God.   In such a case, the flowers become a reminder of the husbnd’s infidelity instead of a token of his love.  In the same way, Judah’s sacrifices were a reminder of their infidelity and gave God no pleasure.
“When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?  Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.  And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1:12-15)

After a few times, the wife learns that her husband bringing flowers for no obvious reason probably indicates another infidelity and begins to see them as an insult to herself as being too dumb to figure out what is going on.   God saw Judah’s sacrifices the same way and refused to accept any more.  They had become and insult to his intelligence rather than an indication of love.   Until real changes are made, there will be no forgiveness.  

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