1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz which he beheld concerning Judea and Jerusalem during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah:
Isaiah mentions four kings during whose reigns he prophesied, though a fifth goes unmentioned—Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, who had Isaiah sawn in half (Ascension of Isaiah, 11:41). Because of the sins of Manasseh, the people of the Southern Kingdom of Judah were exiled and taken captive by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:3–4). Manasseh's reign became a point of no return for the Jewish nation, in part because of the king's evil influence upon the people. Perhaps that is why his name is not spoken.
Chapter 1, the Preface of the Book of Isaiah, dates from around 701 B.C. At that time, Assyria invaded the Promised Land and threatened Judah. (Earlier, in 722 B.C., Assyria had conquered the ten-tribed Northern Kingdom of Israel and taken its people captive into Mesopotamia.) The book's first chapter chronologically is Chapter 6, which describes Isaiah receiving his prophetic calling. It dates from the year of King Uzziah's death in 742 B.C.
Uzziah was sixteen when he became king of Judah and reigned for fifty-two years. William F. Albright has dated his reign to 783 – 742 BC. Edwin R. Thiele's chronology has Uzziah becoming coregent with his father Amaziah in 792/791 BC, when Amaziah was struck with leprosy for disobeying the Lord (2 Kings 14:5), with his sole reign starting on the death of his father in 768/767 BC. Thiele dates Uzziah's being struck with leprosy to 751/750 BC, at which time his son Jotham took over the government, with Uzziah living on until 740/739 BC.[
The chronology of the Book of Isaiah has been made subservient to its multi-layered structuring, through which Isaiah conveys important prophetic data in addition to what we read on the surface of his writing. The singular term—the vision of Isaiah—alludes to the nature of Isaiah's prophecy being one structurally and conceptually from beginning to end, though his prophetic ministry may have spanned as much as fifty years.
1:2 Hear, O heavens! Give heed, O earth! The Lord has spoken: I have reared sons, brought them up, but they have revolted against me.
Isaiah commences his prophecy by calling on the heavens and the earth, which were witnesses to the Sinai covenant, the covenant God made with Israel (Deuteronomy 4:26; 30:19). Through that covenant, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob became the people of God and he became their God (Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12).
Now the heavens and the earth are not, of course, just the physical heavens and earth, but those inhabitants of heaven and those inhabitants of earth who are its witness. When God made a covenant with Israel, Moses said that this covenant is made both with those who are present and those who are not present, and which alludes to the idea that there were others yet to come to earth of the house of Israel, who would also be party to this covenant, in their mortality. And, of course, then there were those who had already gone beyond, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were also witness' of that covenant made with their descendants.
Hear oh Heavens, give heed oh Earth, the Lord has spoken and when the Lord speaks it's kind of by way of decree or at a time of necessitating some kind of intervention or taking stock of things. Things go along for a time and then they get better of they get worse and at either juncture the Lord speaks and pronounces something. Either by way of judgment, condemning Israel, or by
way of pronouncing blessings or a higher calling, or something along those lines. But it is something official and formal.
"I have reared sons, brought them up, but they have revolted against me". Sons, is a technical term in ancient near east covenant terminology, which means vassals or those who have a servant or sonship or vassalship with the emperor king. Caesarian. Besides meaning literally his children habanim also means children, it may be male or female in that sense. Besides that literal interpretation, therefore it has this kind of covenant interpretation. It means that these are people who have a covenant relationship with God. And that is, of course, the people of Israel and people within Israel, individuals. Brought them up, or elevated them in another sense, it's like you'd raise a child physically, so you also elevate them to a special calling, or special duties or privileges, but they have revolted against me, like rebellious sons, like teenagers or other rebellious children. So these act. Now, in the ancient near east, when an emperor had a covenant relationship with his vassal kings, who ruled over various city states, in his empire. Sometimes a vassal king, or a number of them, would rebel or revolt against the Caesarian or the emperor, that is kin of hinted at here, so it has this dual connotation, of literal children and also covenant vassals.
1:3 The ox knows its owner, the ass its master's stall, but Israel does not know; my people are insensible.
The ox, is a clean animal, it's kosher, because it divides the hoof and chews the cud, the ass is not, the ass is an unclean animal, and all the way through you'll find this imagery, in Isaiah, of the clean and the unclean and in a latter day context that is very telling because the Lord has a covenant relationship with his people, Israel. But into that covenant are also brought the gentiles or those gentiles who wish to covenant with the Lord also become His covenant people and they are represented by the ass and the ox represent the natural lineages, so the ox the natural lineages, and the ass the mingled lineages of Israel, or those that come of the gentiles and that's common all the way through the Hebrew prophets. The clean animals represent the natural lineages and unclean represent the gentiles or the mingled lineages of Israel.
"The ox knows its owner" - to know is another technical term that we get from ancient near eastern covenant language. It is a covenant term even way back in the sense of Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived and bore a son. They have a covenant relationship between them. To know someone expresses that covenant relationship. Like how can you serve someone that you don't know? You know them when you have covenanted with them and reach an agreement with them. But Israel does not know, in other words Israel has broken the covenant. Israel has become alienated from God and has rejected her suzerain or emperor, who is the Lord or King, and she doesn't know him anymore, she has gone her own way. She has forgotten about her relationship with Him. My people are insensible. In Hebrew, lo yitbonen that means become undiscerning, dense, not astute, kind of dull. And it is in parallel with 'to know' or 'not to know' and so it kind of underscored the disintegration of the relationship and the accompanying ignorance that ensues. Both as to things spiritual and manifesting itself even in other areas of life. It reminds me of what Paul said, "The things of God knows no man, but those who are endowed with the spirit of God", so if you don't have the spirit of God you don't discern spiritual things.
1:4 Alas, a nation astray, a people weighed down by sin, the offspring of wrongdoers, perverse children: they have forsaken the Lord, they have spurned the Holy One of Israel, they have lapsed into apostasy.
which parallels sin with going astray, going astray from the Lord, the offspring of wrongdoers, perverse children, here it is becoming generational already – it not just all happening in one generation, it's happening over several generations, but it kind of a national or a group phenomenon – everybody is involved, except a few individuals. People weighed down by sins, their sins, the offspring of wrongdoers, the perverse children. Notice the gradual alienation, and rebellion, and apostasy of the people. First of all, they kind of rebelled a little bit, they began to be ignorant of the things of God, then they are astray, for they know they are already out in left field. Then sins begin to weigh them down, in other words, they are becoming abundant and burdening them, then they actually go out and do wrong – wrongdoers. Then they become perverse, which is another step. Each step adds a new dimension in the degree of apostasy. Finally they have forsaken the Lord, they are spurned the Holy One of Israel, they have lapsed into apostasy, then its outright forsaking of the Lord, it's no longer just dabbling, or just a little bit alienated, its outright departing from the Lord – spurning Him. They have lapsed into apostasy. In Hebrew, nazoru achor means they have become estranged, they have gone backwards, to what they used to be, when they were in bondage in Egypt, when they were adulators. They have gone and become like everybody else, perhaps worst so, because of the light that they had. And that is where their apostasy is complete, so you can see that it is apostasy over several generations – two or three and it takes awhile – finally its complete. Then we have, and all the way through or already, we have, the consequences of breaking the covenant, which are the covenant curses. In the Lords covenant with Israel, the Sinai covenant, there were a whole string of blessings attached and a whole string of curses that are outlined in Deuteronomy 28. And so long as Israel will keep the terms of the covenant, the blessings would be hers, but if she broke the terms of the covenant, the law of the covenant, or the law of Moses the curses would fall upon her and that's now what's happening. So we have here cause and effect.
1:5 Why be smitten further by adding to your waywardness? The whole head is sick, the whole heart diseased.
To be smitten of God? Because of waywardness? Apostasy? The whole head is sick, the whole heart diseased – the whole establishment – from head to toe. It's a national phenomenon, like he said earlier. Now the head, as in the cross-reference there in chapter 9 verse 15. The head is the leadership of the people, both political and religious. In Isaiah, the political and the religious are always on a par. Spiritually, whether for good or for evil. The whole heart diseased, even to the core the people are sick And it's like an incurable sickness too, and it's not just like a flu, a winter flu or something. The head and heart, also of course, have male and female connotations.
1:6 From the soles of the feet even to the head there is nothing sound, only wounds and bruises and festering sores; they have not been pressed out or bound up, nor soothed with ointment.
like those of a slave or a person who is under some sort of curse, who doesn't have recourse to being ministered to. They have not been pressed out or bound up, nor soothed with ointment. Just like a galley slave or somebody in bondage, whose not cared for, somebody in a gulag. If they get sick, that's just too bad, if they get sores that's their problem. They're dispensable, so. And that's how Israel has become. It kind of reminds you of the parable of the prodigal son, doesn't it? How the son kind of rebelled from his father and squandered his inheritance and then he was worse off than a slave – I think he became a swine herd, as I recall. He thought it would be better off to become one of his father slaves/servants.
Now also there is a lot of antithesis in the book of Isaiah, all the way through the book and whatever happens to the wicked the opposite happens to the righteous and vice-versa, whatever happens to the righteous, the opposite happens to the wicked. So we see things like being healed, and being soothed, and anointings and we see that kind of thing later on – for the righteous. And they're in direct opposition, the exact opposite of what happens to the one group is the opposite of what happens to the other and these are just kind of spread all the way through Isaiah. He doesn't say "Look!, this is where it happens to the righteous and that's where it happens.." It's for you to find out where these antithesis are – By searching through the book of Isaiah. Verse 7
1:7 Your land is ruined, your cities burned with fire; Your native soil is devoured by aliens in your presence, laid waste at its takeover by foreigners.
so bondage is implied in the previous verse, verse 6 and now, invasion by enemies and destruction by fire and by the sword and that is also a covenant curse. Bondage is a covenant curse, bondage to enemies, or to false systems or authorities is a covenant curse and invasion by enemies is a covenant curse. A promised land is a covenant blessing. A promised land is given to Israel, or to anyone who covenants with the Lord and remains theirs until they transgress and are dispossessed of the promised land because of their own doing and the two main ingredients of the Lord's covenant with anybody are a promised land and enduring offspring and so we have here an infringement on one of those two fundamental blessings of the covenant. Here's talking about the land, "Your land is ruined, your cities burned with fire". Now again there are so many word links throughout the book of Isaiah, and those word links are a key to understanding the book. Besides the overarching structures that are there, that spell out their own message – that we don't have time to talk about today. There are so many different numerous word links, linking one idea to another, all the way through the book of Isaiah, like a big tapestry. Like threads, that connect everything, so you can't just take one verse and study it to death and isolate it from the others and make head or tail of it – you can't do that. You have to connect it to all these other places in the book of Isaiah, that are there, that are linked to it, by means of word links. One such word link, here, is fire. The cities are burned with fire. OK. Let's see, we also see in verse 20, people are eaten by the sword, in other words there you have the land taken away or destroyed and here you have the people taken away, by the sword. Destroyed by the sword, by the fire and by the sword – those two are usually in parallel, here they are separated by a few verses. But the words fire and sword are metaphors and they describe a person or two persons, in other words the king of Assyria is one such person, he personifies the Lords fire, that consumes the wicked or destroys the cities, and he personifies the Lords sword and destroys the wicked and puts people to death. But so is the Lords servant, in the book of Isaiah, there is a particular servant mentioned all the way through, who also personifies the Lords fire and His sword and his job is to consume the wicked, in the sense of those who destroy the Lords people, namely the king of Assyria, and his armies. He's the fire that consumes them. And so in the book of Isaiah we have these two main human actors, all the way through. And in many places they are mentioned directly and explicitly and they refer to them as the King of Assyria this and the King of Assyria that or the servant this or the servant that, but they also appear under pseudonyms and those pseudonyms are these metaphors. And so, on one level you can say the cities are burned with fire, OK- that's literal. And that's a simple interpretation and that's always the first one that we should look at, but there's another underlying interpretation on a metaphorical or allegorical level and that is that the king of Assyrian is that who is doing the destroying – He's the fire. He's the sword. He is the one who comes and is the Lords instrument for dealing and inflicting punishments or covenant curses upon His apostate people.
Let's go back and introduce another idea. Who are these apostate people as far as we're concerned? In ancient Israel, it's clear if you read this as an historical account of things that happened in Isaiah's time, there was an ancient king of Assyria who came in and we see that under the terms of the covenants, so long as Israel maintained and kept the terms of the convent she would be the head of the nations and other nations would have no power over her. But, when Israel transgressed against the terms of the covenant, other nations would become the head and Israel would become the tail. And in the book that I did for 'Awe-key Harrison', the book in honor of the professor that I studied under called "Israel's Apostasy and Restoration" - it's a book of about 21 essays and chapters there is one that documents the rise of Assyria to world power to prominence in the ancient near east as the power or superpower of that day and that rise of Assyria over several generations happens in direct correspondence to Israel's apostasy, so whenever Israel apostasies or went into another degree apostasy, as we saw here, another element of its apostasy occurred and Israel began to break the terms of the covenant. Then the Assyrians came into power and finally they became the head of the nations and Israel became the tail, the lowest of all the nations, now that happened in Isaiah's day and soon thereafter, it happened by degrees, first of all the northern kingdom was taken captive and destroyed by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians came a generation later and did the same thing to Judea, the Jews, the southern kingdom of Judah, because we had anciently two kingdoms, the kingdoms the ten tribes to the north and the kingdom of the two or three tribes of the south, the Jewish tribes, Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. Now that's clear as far as the historical context is concerned, by what about a latter day context? How does this apply to us today and why would this be relevant to us today? Because most books on Isaiah take this as something that happened in their day and they kind of keep it save at arm's length and it doesn't apply to us so we don't worry about it because we're, this is not us, we're good, aren't we? We, we're people of God so, those are bad Jews and everybody else that did these things and now they deserve that and too bad for them, and we're okay. And that's kind of the mentality that people have today and so they don't apply everything that Isaiah spoke to themselves, so who's it talking about? Well, one of the things that my introductory class has discussed, is that Isaiah can be read on two distinct levels and the structures in the book of Isaiah establish a latter day context for the entire book, as well as, for the ancient context for the entire book or for most of the book. So that, like the Jews say, these prophecies of Isaiah and other Hebrew prophets, apply back then, but they also apply to our day and we can read them as something that applies to us. When we do that, when we take the whole book of Isaiah, according these apocalyptic structures that are in the book of Isaiah and apply it to ourselves, then we have to ask, "well who is the Israel spoken of that is apostatizing and incurring all of these judgments?" And, the only conclusion that you can come to is, the Israel that apostasies in the latter days or in the end time of the world – end of the world – are those how have covenanted with the Lord now, who are now the covenant people of the Lord and who are now breaking their covenants, and who will now incur these judgments of God and they are going to be dealt with according to these prophecies of Isaiah in the same way as the ancient Israelites were dealt with then(note: cd chap 1 stops here, apparently tape went on), following their apostasy. So who's that? Well, if we claim to be Israel and the covenant people of the Lord, then it's us! Then there are people among us who are going through these kind of motions, or who will go through these kinds of motions and we don't need to look any further or point the finger at anybody else. The odd phenomenon, is that are two kinds of Israelites that help explain the situation: Anciently there was the natural lineages of Israel, and they apostatized, and they exiled, and they incurred these judgments of God, back in history. And as a result of their exile and dispersion, and scattering, many gentiles, or gentile nations were infused with the blood of Israel, there came into being the mingled lineages of Israel. And there are also those, however, that maintain their ethnic purity, such as the Jews . There are peoples of the earth, or the house of Israel, who've maintained their ethnic integrity, as Israelites. And, anciently, when those ethnic lineages, like the Jews, rejected the gospel, rejected Christ, apostatized, then the covenant with Israel, or the gospel, which is part of the covenant with Israel is a covenant blessing and a covenant heritage and it was actually part of Lord's relationship with his people, manifested on a higher level than the law of Moses, but it was part of the same milieu. Those who rejected that, cut themselves off, and then those blessings, those privileges, that covenant could go to the mingled lineages of Israel among the gentiles. Because by the time the Jews rejected Christ, the scattering of Israel, among the gentiles had already been in place for some centuries. And there were Jews who had maintained their ethnic integrity and there were Jews or Israelites who have lost their identity, who had become known as gentiles, who had been assimilated into the gentiles. But because of that mingling of the lineages, the gospel or the blessing and privileges of the Lord's covenant with Israel, could go to the gentiles – by right of lineage. Whereas that could not have happened before, so in a sense we see, that God is using, and orchestrates, as it were, the scattering and exile of Israel, the dispersion of Israel, for the good of the world, for the good of the gentiles, who could then have claim upon being Israel – have claim upon God and come into His covenant with Him. So then the ethic lineages reject the gospel, it can go, by right, to the mingled lineages of Israel. However, in the end time of the world, the end of the world, that situation is reversed. Those mingled lineages who have been given the gospel, in the end-time, reject it, break their covenants with God And then the gospel and its privileges go back to the ethnic lineages – the Jews, the ten tribes. And that is where that expression "The first will be last, and the last will be first comes from". It only happens under those terms, it doesn't happen any other way, the gospel was not given to the "gentiles" and by gentiles I mean, in quote, because of the mingled lineages among the gentiles. So we have to qualify that term "gentiles" and so to say Israel among the gentiles, or Israel assimilated among the gentiles. When the ethnic lineages rejected the gospel and it went to the gentiles, or rather it could not go to the gentiles until the ethnic lineages rejected it and so in the latter days the opposite happens as well, it cannot go back to the ethnic lineages in power and in force until the mingled lineages have rejected it or until the gentiles have rejected it. So, it's clear then who we are talking about here in Isaiah as far as a historical context is concerned, but what about a latter day context, who are we talking about? The apostasy of Israel that we are talking about is the apostasy of the mingled lineages of Israel, of the gentiles who have a covenant relationship with God. The phenomenon of that whole thing involved the Jews, as a whole, rejecting Christ , but Christ's disciples carrying the gospel to the gentiles. And in the end-time the opposite happens, as I said, as a whole the gentiles will reject the gospel, but some, who are faithful servants of God will carry it to the ethnic lineages and in Isaiah those are called the Lord's servant and servants and they are the equivalent of John's 144,000 servants and they're the ones who carry it back to the Jews and to the ten tribes. Who is apostatizing? We are! Whose land is going to be invaded? Ours! Who is going to incurring that judgments that are talked about here on out? We will! There are no other candidates. All those who are in any way at all today have some type of covenant with God, with the Lord, God of Israel. That includes anybody who claims to be a Christian or follower of Jesus Christ. "Your native soil is devoured by aliens in your presence". Again, that word "aliens" is a linking word to the Assyrians, in the book of Isaiah They are the aliens that come in and they are an alliance of nations, led by the king of Assyria, who actually conquer the entire world. The only place that they're able to conquer totally is Zion. And that is what we see here in the next verse. All the way through Isaiah you'll find, those aliens, those foreigners is a reference to the Assyrians. "Laid waste as it's taken over by foreigners" and they're very destructive, as they were anciently, the latter day Assyrians, whoever they are. Assyria was a world power to the north, militaristic, the first in time to conquer the ancient world by military force. Therefore it set a precedence for that sort of world conquest. And whatever set a precedence became a type that Isaiah uses for future a replay of such a event. In Isaiah, nothing that happens in the latter days , but that it has some kind of type or precedence in the past. This was history. The latter days is a repeat scenario of every major event of Israel's ancient history, not in the same order , because many of those events happened over a millennia of time, but as far as the last days scenario is concerned, it's a replay, a quick secession of all these events of Israel's past and an invasion of the promised land and a takeover by and laying waste by foreigners, is one of those events, that has a second fulfillment, in the end time.
1:8 The Daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, a hut in a melon field, a city under siege.
Now when it uses the word "left", like that, again it is a word link, it has many other instances of it throughout the book of Isaiah. It means to survive destruction. It refers to a remnant. It refers to a few, for whom the Lord provides a way of escape or deliverance, when everybody else is annihilated. The daughter of Zion, or the daughter Zion. In the book of Isaiah and all throughout the Hebrew prophets, the Lord's people are likened to a woman, who has a covenant relationship with the Lord. And that woman is Israel. And she is the people of Israel. And what she does is what the people are doing. She symbolizes Israel, or God's people. Now in the book of Isaiah, those who survive a latter-day destruction, are not just Israel. Because the people of Israel, in general, have apostatized, or are apostatizing. So who is it that survives? It is not all the people of Israel, it's a small remnant, and they're given a new name, the name Zion, or Jerusalem. Two names, that are often used in parallel, and they define a category of people, within Israel, not all Israel, but kind of an elect category within Israel. So whenever it uses the term Zion or Jerusalem, you are talking about an elect group, not everybody, and they are on a higher level than people in general. And in our opening seminars we discussed how there are different steps on a spiritual ladder and Zion and Jerusalem is a higher degree than Jacob or Israel.
"The daughter of Zion is left" or survives, like a remnant, like a shelter in a vineyard, a hut in a melon field, the shelter and the hut are in parallel. The vineyard and the melon field are in parallel. The vineyard in chapter 5 is the house of Israel, it's also the world in chapter 27, it's the promised land, in a sense, but the promised land eventually covers, in the millennium, the whole world. And the word "shelter" is used all the way through Isaiah, it has many word links to it, all the way through it it implies protection from the storm, and the storm is the day of judgment, the day of universal judgment, the punishment of the wicked, worldwide, from which only the righteous are delivered. We have tons of links already to that scenario, to that end-times scenario of the Lord coming, to the earth, proceeded by the cleansing of the earth, when the wicked are destroyed from the face of the earth and the righteous are preserved and live on into millennial time of peace and the Lord provides a shelter for the righteous, in the form of a cloud of glory, signifying His presence, a cloud of glory by day, and a fire by night and it is a shelter and a shade from the heat of the storm, a secret refuge from the downpour of the rain as it says in chapter 4, verses 5&6, which are cross referenced there, in the margin. The hut in the melon field. Now these things imply that there is a watchman there because the hut and the shelter, were just temporary shelters, but they were effective, they sheltered the watchman from the heat of the sun, or from rain and he kept watch over the field in case anybody came or wild animals, or people came to steal the fruit or the produce and he was just there to take care of things. Now watchman in the book of Isaiah are used a metaphor to describe the Lord's prophets, they're the watchmen on the tower, they're the watchmen who keep watch, who report any danger, any sign of danger so that means that those who survive, in the shelter, have a prophet to guide them or to lead them, they don't just survive by happenstance, because they happen to be in the right place at the right time, they are lead by a prophet of God, that's why they survive, that's why they are left.
"A city under siege", the last line of that verse, verse 8. "A shelter in the vineyard, a hut in the melon field, a city under siege", so we see that the shelter and the hut are parallel to the city, as if they are synonymous ideas. Now in Isaiah there are two cities, all the way through the book of Isaiah there is the idea of two cities. One is the righteous city, that survives, as in this case – that survives siege, that survives destruction. The other city is the city of the wicked that goes into the dust, that is totally destroyed, reduced to nothing. So there's kind of a juxtaposition between two cities, as there is between two women in the book of Isaiah, here we have the daughter of Zion, but there is also the daughter of Babylon and she's a harlot, and she represents, as an archetype, all wickedness and all the wicked inhabitants of the earth. And here, the daughter of Zion, is an archetype, of the elect of a select group of the covenant people of the Lord that survives destruction and lives on into the millennial time of peace. Then we also have two covenants, in the book of Isaiah: a covenant with life and a covenant with death and the wicked choose the covenant with death and the righteous or the elected choose the covenant of life, or with life – they live, they are delivered at a time when everybody else is going to their death. So that dichotomy is all the way through the book of Isaiah, but you wouldn't catch it just by reading verse by verse, would you? You have to look at these words links, you have to take the word "city" and follow it all the way through the book of Isaiah, as the word "shelter" and "Zion", and "fire", and "sword", and everything else. And when you do that, and that's why we have the concordance, in the back of my blue book, to help you with that. When you take the word "city" all the way through you see that there are these two cities and you see the characteristics of these cities, the one is an exalted city, it has all these proud people in it the oppress the righteous and the high and mighty, the elite people of the earth, have all the characteristics of those people and they go into the dust. And there is this other city that the Lord comes and dwells with these people, it's that kind of city, it's the city of the Lord, that houses and protects the righteous of the earth.
Now it says "a city under siege". The Hebrew under siege is netzurah, which means 'people under siege', but also 'to be preserved', it has a double meaning, in Hebrew. So it's a city under siege, but it's also a city that's preserved, preserved of God, preserved intact 'nits-fro-Ha'. It means to 'come under attack', certainly, but also to survive that attack. The very fire that destroys the wicked, preserves the righteous, the righteous walk through the fire Isaiah says – later on. He says they will walk through the fire, the very fire, the same fire that destroys the wicked. So it's kind of a paradox here, They have to be willing to go under siege, they have to be willing to be tested and tried by the Lord, to see if they will be faithful to him When the Assyrians laid siege to Zion or Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah , as we read about in chapters 36 and 37, and 38, they could have capitulated and gone over to the Assyrians, the Assyrians said "all you have to do is come out to us and we'll give you a land flowing with milk and honey somewhere else. Yes, you'll be part of our empire, you'll be subject to us (you'll become our slaves – they didn't mention that – that's all involved), but all you have to do to spare your lives is to come out and become one of us, and then we'll put you somewhere else and we'll put other people here" and they displaced people from one part of the empire to the other and the people stayed put. The people were loyal to their king, their king was loyal to God, and God destroyed the Assyrian horde in one night. 185,000 laid siege to the ancient city Jerusalem or Zion, in the days of King Hezekiah. And that is the historical context, the thing that happened in 701 B.C., that this chapter relates to, but in the latter days it has a replay, it has a second fulfillment and we have to be like those people then, willing to suffer the siege, willing to stick it out, to rely upon the Arm of the Lord, not on the arm of flesh and then He will come through for us and deliver us.
1:9 Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a few survivors, we should have been as Sodom, or become like Gomorrah.
There is the word "left" again, as in verse 8, in the sense of some survivors, like I said, that's all the way through Isaiah, not just here. "We should have been a Sodom, or become like Gomorrah ", well who are the survivors of Sodom and Gomorrah? Lot and his two daughters, how come they survived? Well, for one thing Lot was a righteous man. His daughters survived because of Lot, because they went with Lot, therefore they obeyed him, his wife did not obey him, or did not go along with him and she was burned up with the wicked in Sodom. And that's a type – Sodom and Gomorrah is a type all the way through Isaiah, both of the destruction of the wicked, because later on we see in chapter 13 we see how Babylon is destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah and then Isaiah defines Babylon as the world at large, and it's wicked inhabitants, so we have a world-wide Sodom and Gomorrah type of destruction that Isaiah predicts, but out of Sodom came Lot, and his two daughters. Those who did not go along with Lot, remained behind and that's also a type. In the book of Isaiah there is an exodus out of Babylon, on the eve of the destruction, that's a literal exodus and not everybody goes, just like Lot's wife did not go. I don't think Lot's wife could really believe that such a destruction as happened could ever happen. Sodom and Gomorrah had been there for generations, thousands of years. Why suddenly a rain of fire and brimstone out of the sky would just annihilate everything in just a few moments, and it would be all gone? She had a comfortable house there. She just couldn't make the mental shift to anything like that, why? The answer is, of course she was not, and she know the Lord, didn't have the spirit of revelation, she didn't feel the warning, to get out, like Lot did. In fact the Lord sent angels to get Lot out, remember that, in the account. In fact the angels even had to strong arm Lot a little bit, to get him out of there. And that is a type and shadow of the last days where Jesus says, in Matthew 24, that He will send His angels and they will gather up His elect from the four quarters of the earth. And in Isaiah that gathering is an exodus, an exodus of all parts of the earth to Zion and Zion is a safe place, a place where the Lord protects his people, in the last days and He also protects them in the exodus itself, as He did in the anciently with the Israelites, in their exodus out of Egypt.
So verse 9, "Had not the Lord of Hosts left us a few survivors we should have been like Sodom and Gomorrah". Well that tells us a lot, because that tells us that the wickedness of the people is like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and that's what we saw earlier, people have become perverse, Right? They spurn the Holy One of Israel, lapse into apostasy and become totally estranged from God. If also tells us of the character of the estrangement, of the immorality and wickedness the sodomizers and murders, they were homosexuals, they were robbers, they were a den of thieves. They had no respect for human life or persons toward the end of their time. So, one would be lucky to survive such a society. Also the name Sodom and Gomorrah became a curse, a warning to the whole world really. When you say Sodom and Gomorrah, what do you think of? You think of that horrendous destruction that happened following that horrendous wickedness. And that is what is implied here, in chapter 13, like I said, Babylon which is identified as the world at large and it's wicked inhabitants is destroyed in this Sodom and Gomorrah type of destruction. Does that mean that the world at large, as a whole is going to have rain of fire and brimstone all over it? Probably not, there could be some cosmic cataclysm as chapter 13 talks about. But in Isaiah, the one that does the destruction of the cities with fire, is the king of Assyria, he destroys the cities with fire, and by the sword, so we look more towards that kind of scenario, then some kind of natural phenomenon.
Now cities are destroyed violently with thunderous quaking, resounding booms, tempestuous blasts, conflagrations of devouring flame, as in chapter 29 verse 6. There is the possibility of something like a nuclear holocaust, alluded to here, or in the book of Isaiah in general. When it talks about cities being destroyed in an instant, turned into flying dust and chaff, so it could be that this king of Assyria, does the burning with fire by destroying, a latter day civilization, through a nuclear holocaust – that is one possible scenario. Anyway that is an ominous idea, it's an ominous threat, when he starts using that kind of language. A few survivors, one or two. We should have become a Sodom or become like a Gomorrah. And he means it, he's not just kidding.
Like I said, he's not kidding when he uses those word, he's not just using hyperbole. And saying, well you know I'm just going to warn you and that – this using some horrendous words like that. No! It's actually a repeat performance of a Sodom and Gomorrah destruction and it is also a repeat performance of the wickedness that preceded the Sodom and Gomorrah destruction, he calls the people, here in verse 10, Sodom and Gomorrah,
1:10 Hear the word of the Lord, O leaders of Sodom; give heed to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
The law of our God. Our God implies the covenant relationships, that God's people have with the Lord, He is our God, we are His people. That is a technical term, defining the covenant relationship that Israel has with the Lord God of Israel. "Hear the word of the Lord", it's like, that earlier verse that we talked about, that said "The Lord has spoken". The Lord speaks through His servant in the book of Isaiah, or through His servants, and so this implies that a servant is speaking and that servant is coming to warn of that kind of destruction, because the Lord does nothing, save He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets and they tell the people, they warn. He's the watchman that warns the people. In chapter 21, there is a watchman appointed who is to warn the people of the coming destruction of Babylon and Babylon is destroyed in a Sodom and Gomorrah destruction. So there is warning given ahead of time, through the Lord's servants. Isaiah, in his own day, was such a servant and gave such a warning, as we'll see in chapter 20. For three years he predicted the destruction of Egypt and Cush, by the Assyrians and then it was fulfilled. And that is a type for our day. That there will be at least a three year warning, before there is any nuclear holocaust or anything like that. People are building bomb shelters and saying on such-and-such a date it's going to happen. Well, that is just not it at all, that does not follow the pattern of the past. The Lord gives warning, abundant warning and allows people time to repent or time to choose sides.
"Hear the word of the Lord, oh leaders of Sodom", because they have sunk to that level, is that apparent today, ask yourselves? Do we have leaders that are like Sodomites? I don't think we even need to ask the question, so we're getting close to that time and it is at that time that the Lord's servant gives warning. That's when the Lord's servant comes upon the scene. In Isaiah's end-time scenario, the first person to come upon the scene is the king of Assyria and that's kind of alluded to here in chapter 7 about the foreigners and aliens. They don't go all out and invade everybody all at once, they first of all come to power and consolidate their power and so does this king of Assyria, kind of like Hitler did before the second world war – he came to power and then he consolidated his power and then he orchestrated his invasion – that's kinda what this latter-day king of Assyria does. He has an alliance of nations that assists him and we'll see all those things, but then the Lord's servant also comes upon the scene. It's like the Lord's servant is an antidote to the king of Assyria. The one is destructive like the power of chaos that destroys and conquers the whole world and the other is a power of creation or a power of deliverance, he's like a Moses that led the Israelites out of Egypt at the time the plagues came upon the Egyptians . So, he's also the one that speaks the word of God as we'll see later on through the word links. "The Lord's word is in his mouth" and so forth. Take the word "word" and link it to other parts of Isaiah and you'll see those connections. He addresses the people's political leaders - leaders of Sodom, "Give heed to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah", the law and word of God are two components of the Lord's covenant, there is the law of the covenant, it's terms, specific terms of the covenant, the covenants that you make and it's usually in a written form and there is also the oral law, or that which is spoken through the living prophet. And that varies from time to time, as occasion requires. So we have that, complementary idea of "the law" (that body of scripture or written word of God, expressing the terms and other ideas) and then there is "the living word of God", too. In this case the living word is being given through the Lord's servant, which we establish through word links, we establish that idea through the word links that are there.
"Give heed to the law of our God (our covenant God), ye people of Gomorrah". So the people as a whole are as bad as the leaders. In fact, the leadership of the people in Isaiah always seems to reflect the people, they deserve what they're getting. They deserve leaders like that, because they're represented of what they are, themselves. Does that make sense? They elected them didn't they?
1:11 For what purpose are your abundant sacrifices to me? says the Lord. I have had my fill of offerings of rams and fat of fatted beasts; the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats I do not want.
Now this is the spiritual side of their lives, they are making sacrifices, abundant sacrifices. So they are going to the temple. "I've had my fill of offerings of rams and fat of fatted beasts, the blood of bulls, and sheep and he-goats I do not want". So they're multiplying all these offerings, sacrifices at the temple. Now isn't this kind of literal, isn't this kind of refer back to literal temple sacrifice, as anciently, so how could this apply to a latter-day context? Good question, right? Well, like I said word links help you in understanding lots of things. Take the word "rams and the bulls and sheep and he-goats" and so on and follow them all the way through Isaiah and you'll see that they are a metaphor that describe people. So yes, there is this literal connotation that certainly applies in Isaiah's day when there were literal temple sacrifices of animals. These animals are all clean animals, they're all kosher animals, so... What do the animals represent? The animals were proxies for the people who had offended, right? The animals were proxies. If a man transgressed against the law of the covenant then he was guilty, according to the law of justice, of offending God, and guilty of death, only the animal died in place of the man and so he could forestall his own death. And that became a great type and shadow of Christ. Of course Christ's divine sacrifice could have no human precedent, and so animals were chosen as a type, rather than humans. Well, as far as a latter-day context is concerned, the animals, since they are a metaphor of people in the book of Isaiah, represent people here, who are proxies, for others – who's that? We are! What sacrifices do we make? Well, we covenant to obey the Law of Sacrifice, and we sacrifice by going there, our time, and our talents and we sacrifice lots of things and so there is a latter-day connotation here, very much so when you apply it on this metaphorical level. He said "He has had His full of our sacrifices", He doesn't want them – why? He says, in verse 11, "For what purpose are your abundant sacrifices for me?" He asks the question and the He answers his own question. What's the purpose? To see the Lord, verse 12,
1:12 When you come to see me, who requires you to trample my courts so?
The question He asks at the beginning of verse 11 is answered at the beginning of verse 12. You go there to see the Lord and if you are not there for that purpose, then everything else doesn't count for very much. "When you come to see me, Who requires of you to trample my courts so?" That's a horrendous paradox, isn't it? Because you're there to see God instead, what are you doing? You are there like the dumb animals who were brought for sacrifices, who didn't know what they were there for. Just tromping around the courts of the temple, polluting it, in effect. Isn't that an awful situation? And you can see why He wouldn't want sacrifices like that, because you're not getting any closer to seeing the Lord that way, are you? It's a time to be astute, a time to be laid back, a time to be 'feely', and a time to be in cheer and a time to make an offering of your whole soul to God. Instead, you are just multiplying statistics.
1:13 Bring no more worthless offerings; they are as a loathsome incense to me. As for convening meetings at the New Month and on the Sabbath, wickedness with the solemn gathering I cannot approve.
He considers those kind of sacrifices as of no worth. "They are as loathsome incense to me". That's another illusion of a temple scenario because incense, all through the old testament, is symbolic of prayer. The prayers of the righteous, rising like incense up to God's throne. And it should be a sweet incense, it should be pleasant to the Lord, instead these prayers are not. There are some loathsome incenses that you can buy today, and if you have been in someone's house that have lit them [laughter], you want to get out of there [laughter].
"As for convening meetings on the new month and on the Sabbath, wickedness with a solemn gathering I cannot approve". The problem is not that we're going to church, or the synagogue, or going to the temple, or whatever it may be, that's not the problem, the problem is that we are bringing our garbage or baggage with us. "Wickedness with a solemn gathering I cannot approve". It's kind of a mockery to God, isn't it, to go to the temple if you're not worthy and same with any other solemn or spiritually meeting.
1:14 Your monthly and regular meetings my soul detests. They have become a burden on me; I am weary of putting up with them.
Later on he talks about us burdening Him with His sins. Like I said there are all these word links. There is great importance laid on keeping the Sabbath day holy, in the book of Isaiah, chapter 58, for example. All these things have their good side – that's not the point. The point is that we have become pollution. I'm weary of putting up with them.
1:15 When you spread forth your hands, I will conceal my eyes from you; though you pray at length, I will not hear—your hands are filled with blood.
Spreading forth the hands and praying at length are two legitimate and proper forms of prayer. Again, that's not the point. And we know about those forms of prayer, from our own experience, but they don't do us any good if we ourselves are guilty, of what? Blood! Blood is the extreme form of injustice, but it also kind of covers other forms of injustice, it kind of epitomizes injustice in general. He doesn't hear us and he doesn't see us – as far as responding to our prayers are concerned. Even when we follow legitimate forms of prayer, if they're not with a broken heart and contrite spirit, what good do they do to us? "Your hands are full of blood" - murders, abortions, other forms of injustice that maybe have ripple effects – who knows what would cause, what we cause by our wickedness? Teen-age suicides, we didn't do it, they did, but did we cause it, did we contribute to it? Did the whole society contribute to it in some small way? There's all kinds of innuendos here, implications that imply the whole society. "Wash yourselves clean, remove your wicked deeds from before my eyes, cease to do evil." He doesn't say repent and do this, He says this is how you repent, this is what you do, this is how He defines repentance – else what is that? What is He telling us to do? He's telling us how to repent. Stop doing the thing you're doing that's unjust, cease to do evil and that's what we teach isn't it? That repentance involves an admission of guilt, the problem, profession of it, and involves putting away the thing itself, not doing it any more. And He says that way you can become clean again. You can receive a remission of your sins, He implies that also, repentance leads to a remission of sins.
1:16 Wash yourselves clean: remove your wicked deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil.
You can become clean again. "Cease to do evil" Good and evil have connotations of covenant keeping and covenant breaking again, in the book of Isaiah, they are technical terms again. Doing evil means you break the terms of the covenant, to do good means to keep the terms of the covenant. And they also allude to the consequences that follow – when you keep the terms of the covenant the blessings of the covenant follow and they are good, when you break the covenant the curses of the covenant follow, the plagues, the misfortunes, and they define evil, or they are evil. "Cease to do evil"
1:17 Learn to do good: demand justice, stand up for the oppressed; plead the cause of the fatherless, appeal on behalf of the widow.
That's the opposite. He says "Learn it". If you haven't learned it by now, then learn it all over again, start from scratch. He just doesn't say "Do good", He says, "Learn to do good". Demand justice, He defines then what good is, just as He defined what evil is, which is all of this hypocrisy and wickedness, and so on, and injustice and murders, that's evil. Now He defines good, "Learn to do good, demand justice, stand up for the oppressed, feed the cause of the fatherless, appeal on behalf of the widow". Just as murder, blood, symbolized by the word "blood" is the epitome of evil, and injustice, so taking care of the oppressed, the widow and the fatherless, for one example is the epitome of doing good, or doing justice, here justice and injustice are contrasted, as good and evil are. He picks on the widows and fatherless, as really just one example of the needy or the oppressed of society, He could have picked on anybody. He doesn't mean limit your actions to them, He just says there is a extreme example, just as murder is an extreme example of injustice, he picks on another extreme example for doing good. There are many others who are oppressed – help them too. Chapter 58 is good on that subject.
1:18 Come now, let us put it to the test, says the Lord: though your sins are as scarlet, they can be made white as snow; though they have reddened as crimson, they may become white as wool.
Crimson and scarlet again, is red, right? It's the color of blood. You're stained your garments with murders, can you really become clean from that? In Hebrew, there are no question marks. So these could be questions. "Though your sins are as scarlet, can they be made white as snow?", "Though they have red as crimson, may they become white as wool?" Really? You think so? Are you kidding yourself? You think that you've murdered now and you can just become clean again? You hypocrite! I mean that could be a possible way of looking as this, because murder is what, the unpardonable sin? Is that what it's called? Murder is the unpardonable sin, he who sheds the blood of another, cannot be forgiven until he die right? That's in Isaiah even. By men must his blood be shed, according to the law of God. So maybe these people are just kidding themselves. These people who are in this Sodom and Gomorrah society, who are guilty of blood, murders, abortions, say I can still go to church, I can still put on a good appearance and I'll still come out okay in the end, Really? Anything less than that - yes! Anything less than murder (or the unpardonable sin) can be forgiven, it can, no doubt, even if you don't think so, even if you think you are so full of guilt – guilt ridden and you think there's no forgiveness for you – change your mind, you're being duped by Satan, to think that. There is forgiveness, through the Atonement of Christ, so in that sense it's not a question, in that sense "though you sins are as scarlet", they can be made white as snow. Though they have red in the skins, they may become white as wool, you can be forgiven and become clean again. So we have to qualify that verse, don't we? We have to look at it more definitively, we say there may be other levels which we can interpret this. That's the beauty of the Hebrew prophets – there is never just one interpretation for one thing. If you say that there is then you limit yourself, to that one interpretation and exclude other levels of interpretation that are there, that are intended to be there for you, to give you more insights. That's our western mind to say that everything just has one interpretation and we can be so dogmatic about this and that. Little do we know, what we're depriving ourselves of when we say that.
1:19 If you are willing and obey, you shall eat the good of the land.
That qualifies a whole bunch, right there. The "good of the land", good, as I said, is a covenant term, that implies covenant keeping, with attendant covenant blessings that follow. If you keep the terms of the covenant, you'll be blessed. The blessings of the covenant, the good of the land, "land" is a covenant blessing, right? The abundance of the land, the land yields her fruits, her produce, you benefit from that, that is a covenant blessing, it comes upon being willing and obey. Another way to translate "being willing and obey", is if you, willingly obey. Hebrews sometimes doesn't have those adjectives and ways of saying things that we do today. If you willingly obey, would be a good translation of that actually. Obey what? The terms of the covenant! The very things that you have covenanted to do.
1:20 But if you are unwilling and disobey, you shall be eaten by the sword. By his mouth the Lord has spoken it.
that's kind of a antithesis there, isn't it? The sword is like the fire in verse 7, yes it's the literal destruction by enemies coming in and shooting you or ramming their bayonets through you or whatever scenario, latter-day scenario would be the case. But it is also a metaphor, it's a pseudonym of the king of Assyrian – he is the Lord's sword. He personifies the sword and the fire of the last days. "By His mouth the Lord has spoken it", so it's an official declaration, from which the Lord does not retract, He speaks it at a time of grave warning, as in this case, He's warning of a Sodom and Gomorrah destruction and saying these are your sins and this is what you can do about it and you are given a time of probation now. This is the decree, that the Judge has given and then He bangs the hammer down on you. Podium, that's it, it's over and that's how this is. He's said His spiel and how we can do something about it or we can do nothing about it. The word "mouth", too, is a metaphor, of the Lord's servant and of the king of Assyria. In this case it's not the king of Assyria, the Lord doesn't speak that through him, necessarily, it is through the servant giving warning. He is the mouth of the Lord, or the mouthpiece we would say of the Lord to His people. Obviously, considering the next few verses the people don't do very much about what the Lord has said, they don't heed the warning, not the people as a whole. The pattern of the scriptures is that when the Lord gives warning through His servants, there are always a few who do heed the warning. And it is for the sake of those few will heed the warning, that the warning is given and they are the ones who survive the destruction, sword, and the fire – like the daughter of Zion left like a shelter in the vineyard, a city under siege – they are the few survivors of Sodom and Gomorrah. Verse 9: But as a whole the people don't give heed to the warning, in fact when they are in the state of extreme wickedness, how is their reaction? Hail fellow, well met, a pat on the back. Thank you for the warning, it's just what I needed. No! They harden their hearts all the more don't they? As we see in chapter 6 as Isaiah gives warning to the people, they will harden their hearts all the more and thus they will confirm themselves in their wickedness and then it becomes like a - like bands in chapter 26, the bands become severe Isaiah says, because you're more confirmed in your wickedness, therefore you're more locked in to your course of action and to the consequences of that action. You actually seal upon yourself your own destruction and damnation. That's what we have here in verse 21:
1:21 How the faithful city has become a harlot! She was filled with justice; righteousness made its abode in her, but now murderers.
"How" is a lament – that's how the book of Lamentations starts off. How could this have happened? How can we let that happen? Why couldn't they have been wiser? And that's what this is, it's a lament, because the prophet foresees the destruction that's coming, because the people have not chosen to repent . "How the faithful city", a people who were a faithful covenant people of the Lord – they were faithful to Him. They were that city. Like I said in Isaiah, there are two cities, there is the faithful city that becomes a harlot, and there were those who were cast off who become a faithful city. There is the, the wife who is cast off, who's taken back, she renews her allegiance to her husband, the Lord, and there is the wife, who is the wife, the spouse of the Lord, but now she commits adultery and becomes alienated from Him and is cast off – two cities, two women, two covenants, two ideas, and they reflect the status of the two groups of covenant people that we mention. The ethnic lineages of Israel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the mingled lineages of Israel or the wild branches that were grafted in. There are always these two groups - two entities, and here we have the other one, the one that is presently the covenant people, who become a harlot. "She was filled with justice, righteousness made her abode in her, and now murderers". She was filled with justice, justice and righteousness are the foundation of all good, they are the foundation of all blessings. Justice and righteousness are part of the covenant relationship, that God's people have with Him. The whole law of the covenant and the word of God are about justice and righteousness. There are substance, involves justice and righteousness – you're just in your dealings with your fellow man. You're righteous in the sense that you serve God, again by serving your fellow man or woman. What does the servant do when he comes along? His job is to establish justice and righteousness, any servant of God's job is to establish justice and righteousness, as much as he is able to. When you depart from those things, there's nothing left. "She was filled with justice, righteousness made its abode in her, but now murders." Righteousness is also a pseudonym or metaphor describing the Lord's servant. Chapter 41 verse 2 calls him righteousness, he personifies righteousness. Righteousness comes from the east, it is a person. The Lord, too, is described by a metaphor, like righteousness, He's called salvation, He personifies salvation. In the book of Isaiah, righteousness and salvation go hand in hand, righteousness proceeds salvation, it's a precondition of salvation – you quality for salvation by being righteous. When we are far from righteousness, and God's people are far from righteousness, far from living righteously, as in chapter 46. The Lord sends righteousness, the person, to establish righteousness among them. Because God cannot save them from the destruction that is coming upon the world, upon the wicked, unless they are righteous. His job is to bring them to a level of righteousness, that's acceptable before God and this is God's righteousness, not our own self-righteousness. We have to go by His definition of righteousness, not by our own. The righteousness of His people, who are offering sacrifices in the temple and multiplying statistics, and going to their meetings on the Sabbath day, and raising their hands in prayer, and praying at length – that's their righteousness, that's not God's righteousness. Backed up with good deeds, taking care of the oppressed, the widows, the poor and the needy, that's righteousness. Those forms of worship would then be valid. Here is says "She was filled with justice, righteousness justice made her abode in her". These people did observe God's righteousness and the sad part of it is that they fell away from it and when they fall away from such light, then what happens usually, the patterns of the scriptures, is that they what? They become more wicked and hardened then they were before, right? This fits the description, or the pattern of the scriptures.
1:22 Your silver has become dross, your wine diluted with water.
Okay, right there, silver and gold are precious metals and in Isaiah, the precious metals and stones symbolize the elect and the semi-precious and the common metals and stones symbolize other categories of people. Isaiah and the Hebrew prophets, often use that kind of imagery. Malachi says "Then those the fear the Lord spake often one with another, in a time of wickedness, when the wicked were established and a book of remembrance was written of the things that they spoke" and He says "these will I make my jewels", when He comes in His glory and then ye will discern between the righteous and the wicked, those who serve God, and those who don't serve Him and then in the next verse he says "and the wicked will be as ashes under their feet", that's how you'll discern the wicked in that day. The point there is that the elect are like jewels and in Isaiah they're like jewels, they're precious stones and they are what we call a Celestial category of people and same with gold and silver, they are precious metals, they symbolize a Celestial category of people and later on in the book of Isaiah we see that everything goes upward a step, what is now semi-precious becomes precious, and what is now common becomes semi-precious. Society ascends a level and the lowest category is eliminated. The earth is also going forward in its progression and it the people don't go forward in their progression with it, they will be eliminated from the earth and that's what happens, in the last days, this time of destruction. The point here is that which was precious, or elect, or Celestial has become dross. Dross is not even a common metal. Dross is another category that identifies what we call sons of perdition. Isaiah shows that it will be that bad, that those who are now of a Celestial category will become son of perdition category. Of course that's what happens once you fall from grace after you have become one of the elect then that is the only possibility. Now Isaiah doesn't say that this is a generalized case across the board, he just says that is present. Now that's one connotation when you consider the imagery of precious metals and stones, it is also the literal, like I say, it is always the first connotation or interpretation. Rather than looking at it symbolically or metaphorically you can just look at it plainly and say how money, because the Hebrew word for silver also means money, our money has become worthless, it's been devalued, we may be going through a devaluation here, soon, who knows? And after that our money will become pretty much useless or we have had an economic collapse or whatever and now money is like before the second world war when to buy a loaf of bread you had to bring a whole wheelbarrow load of Deutsche marks to the store, right? And so that's an example, that's even something out of our own day. "Your wine diluted with water", that's in parallel with it, it could be referring to products, that the quality of products isn't what it used to be. But again the word "wine" to, in Isaiah, is used in a metaphorical sense. The imagery of food and drink is used of spiritual food and spiritual drink, the word of God, is "food to the eater", it says in Isaiah. And so this could be the deluding of the word of God, it could be just deluding it down to where it's just only half strength and that's not enough to get you by.
1:23 Your rulers are renegades, accomplices of robbers: with one accord they love bribes and run after rewards; they do not dispense justice to the fatherless, nor does the widow's case come before them.
Why would I give those things a spiritually connotation in verse 22? Because almost always the spiritual and the political are almost always parallel, like I said in verses 10 and 11. And so it is here, the next verse 23 is more the political aspect of things. "Ye rulers and renegades, accomplices of robbers." So the very people whom those in government are to protect the society from, they themselves have become robbers. So it's more than just people going about robbing houses, they're robbing in the sense of taking power to themselves, doing secret murders and to get gain and power and to destroy peoples agencies and to lift themselves up and so forth.
"With one accord they love bribes and run off to rewards." That's also robbing, but it shows that that will be present in the society. Well, we don't hear a lot about that, you might say. Well, would you hear a lot about that if it is going on? NO! [laughter]. We do hear some things about it, we hear of favors that are done, right? "With one accord they love bribes and run off to rewards. They do not dispense justice to the fatherless, nor does the widows case come before them". That's the opposite of what verse 17 says. Whereas the fatherless and widows represent the needy elements of society, the very people they should be most ministering to, these people turn their backs on them, as it were.
1:24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, the Valiant One of Israel, declares, Woe to them! I will relieve me of my adversaries, avenge me of my enemies.
Whenever you see something like that you know that He means business. He doesn't bring all of His titles to bear like that unless He is speaking in a very serious vein. "The Lord", in Hebrew, appears as "Jehovah". Therefore Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, Jehovah of hosts – meaning the Lord who commands the hosts – who can call upon the hosts of heaven to assist Him. And when He intervenes upon the earth He does use them, He has whole armies of angels at His disposal. "The Valiant One of Israel", that term is like "the Holy One of Israel", both of those ideas appear throughout the book of Isaiah. "The Holy One of Israel" is a title that appears more frequently, but "The Valiant One of Israel" is used often to describe the Lord as well, both of those terms "Holy or Valiant One" are used in an exemplary sense, in Isaiah. He's valiant and He's holy and so should we be valiant and holy. He is a model for us to follow. We should emulate Him, in those divine attributes. "The elect" are the valiant servants of the Lord, they're not just any old servants, the elect are like Him, in that they're valiant. The elect also are called the "Holy Ones", in the book of Isaiah, they emulate His divine attribute of holiness.
"Woe to them". Woe is the official pronunciation of a covenant curse. So it's not just the people are following evil, they're breaking the covenant, and now the curses of the covenant are creeping up on them. Yes, that does happen, but here the Lord is pronouncing a curse upon them. He is damning them, as it were. How does He do that? Well, through His servants, the prophets, He does it, who are His mouth, of mouthpiece to them. "Woe to them, I will relieve me of my adversities, avenge me of my enemies, He's going to dispose Himself of these people. Who are they? Somebody from the outside? No, they're His own people, they're rulers and they're leaders, both spiritual and political. He's going to relieve Himself of them. He calls them His enemies and adversaries. Because they have made themselves such and we'll see that theme over and over as well through the book of Isaiah. What's He going to do?
1:25 I will restore my hand over you and smelt away your dross as in a crucible, and remove all your alloy.
I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as in the beginning." There we have two instances of the word "restore" in parallel, "I will restore", "I will restore". So, in response to that situation of corruption and wickedness among the leadership and among the people in general, He's going to do some restoring. How is He going to restore? His Hand! What's that? The "hand" in the book of Isaiah, is another one of those metaphors or pseudonyms that identifies the Lord's servant or the king of Assyria. In this case it's not the king of Assyria, because it's a friendly situation, so it has to be the Lord's servant, who is the Lord's right hand, you'd say right-hand man. But, in the book of Isaiah, he personifies the Hand of the Lord, as well as a lot of other things, as the king of Assyria personifies the left hand of the Lord of the hand with which the Lord smites His people to punish them. The Lord's servant is the Lord's right hand and it delivers His righteous people from destruction. So the restoring of the Lord's hand over them, over His people means that He raises up the Lord's servant to them like He would raise up Moses to the Israelites. And what is he going to do? What will be the result of his ministry or mission? To smelt away the dross, as in a crucible, well the dross are the apostates again, in a particular sense, the sons of perdition. Those are not even a common metal. They are the silver that turn to dross, that we saw in verse 22. And the crucible, in Isaiah, does apply to the day of judgment , when the wicked will be destroyed, by the king of Assyria and he is also the one that removes the alloy, which is common metal, or mixture of common metal . The king of Assyria does that. So the word "hand" here could have a double connotation, of judgment on the one hand and deliverance on the other, in the sense that these people – the wicked – will become subject to the power of the king of Assyria and they will be in his power for him to destroy them. But, primarily here the connotation is friendly, that the Lord's hand, being in parallel with the judges, in verse 26, implies a new or better form of government than has been existing.
1:26 I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as in the beginning. After this you shall be called the City of Righteousness, a faithful city.
it's a friendly situation and that situation prevailed in Israel's history as a type or precedent in the days of Moses. In the beginning, and at the first was in Israel's earliest history. When Israel became a nation in the Sinai wilderness and Moses lead the people of Israel and also appointed judges to judge the cases of the people and he dealt with the hardest cases and they were given counsel as then. Also the book of Judges, is a reference to the word judges in Israel's history. The judges judged the cases of the people, in their day. So we have here an allusion to a form of government, like that of Moses and the elders of Israel, as a type in Israel's past. And what does this lead to? And after this ye shall be called a city of righteousness, a faithful city. So the faithful city that became a harlot, in other words, is going to go through, those are the Lord's people, who come under that head or that category, they will experience some kind of reshuffling or restoration or reinstitution of the Lord's type of government, a kind of theocracy that existed under Moses and the elders, Israel's judges. And as a result of that a people will again become faithful – called a city of righteousness. The city of righteousness is again, the city of the Lord's servant who personifies righteousness. Not only just a righteous city, it's a righteous city, yes it's the people who make up the city who are the righteous or the elect of God. They are the same city that's under siege in verse 8, who are identified there as the daughter of Zion and as they are here in the next verse, verse 27 referring to Zion. Zion is the city of righteousness, but righteousness doesn't just identify the righteous inhabitants, but also the Lord's servant , who does this restoring, or who is part of this restoration. So in other words, when the Lord restores His hand, which is also His servant those false rulers and leaders will lose their power with the Lord's people. Something will happen to cleanse the situation and to restore order among the Lord's people. And all these sons of perdition will no longer be present among them, they will be cut off or removed, smelted away. They will become subject to the king of Assyria who will eliminate them. He is the one that does that kind of destroying in the book of Isaiah. Now, the smelting in a crucible also implies that the silver remains, right? You smelt away the dross, but what's left? The silver and those are the ones who are implicated here as far as the judges, the counselors, and the righteous city is concerned, the faithful ones. What is this city? Zion.
1:27 For Zion shall be ransomed by justice, those of her who repent by righteousness.
Again on a fundamental level, justice and righteousness are the two virtues or attributes of God that are the foundation of all good – of God's blessings. They underline covenant keeping, covenant relationship with God. There is no other covenant relationship possible, except on that basis – with the Lord. That's one level. Now on another level, righteousness again is a pseudonym or metaphor of the Lord's servant who personifies righteousness. Again, how can someone personify righteousness? Why would the Lord call him as such? We look in chapter 41 verse 2 and we see there that it is a person who has raised up righteousness from the East, it says, calling him to the place of His foot. Who has delivered nations to Him, toppled their rulers ruining them as dust to his sword as driven stubble to his ball. He's a person and then later on in chapter 62 verse 11 "The Lord has made a proclamation to the end of the earth, tell the daughter of Zion, see your salvation come, his reward with him is work proceeding him – he's a person. The Lord is coming there, it's a coming of the Lord to the earth and always righteousness and salvation act in concert – they act together in the book of Isaiah. Righteousness proceeds salvation, righteousness is a forerunner of salvation, like John the Baptist was a forerunner of Christ's first coming, so the Lord's servant is a forerunner of His second coming and he personifies righteousness, because he keeps the law of the covenant and proves faithful to the Lord under all conditions. He epitomizes righteousness, he's an exemplar or model of righteousness. The same as the Lord, Himself, epitomizes salvation. He is our Savior. The name Jesus means salvation "Is-you-Ah". It's a noun meaning salvation So that's the purpose here, this servants mission is not for his own aggrandizement, self-aggrandizement, or anything like that. The purpose of his mission here is to establish righteousness among the people. A righteous city or people of God, to whom the Lord can come, whom the Lord can then come and save from the destruction that is coming. So the ransoming by justice implies ransoming from that destruction, from the destruction of the wicked, these are ransomed out of it. Take the word "ransom through", it's a word link, take it all the way through the book of Isaiah, and you'll see that first of all that's it's a parallel with the word redeemed. To be ransomed or redeemed are two parallel ideas, in the book of Isaiah. However if you follow the word "redeemed" all the way through its context, you'll see that redemption is more of a spiritual nature and random is more of a temporal or physical nature. Like I said, from the physical destruction that the king of Assyria reeks upon the whole earth. "Zion shall be ransomed by justice", because He's not going to ransom, the unjust, the wicked. "Those of her who repent are righteousness", here we have a parallelism of lines 1 and 2, a synonymous parallelism. Justice and righteousness are synonymous. The word "ransom" is carried over from the first line to the second. And Zion is paralleled with those of her who repent. Who's "her"? Her is the woman Israel, with whom God has covenanted. Is Zion the same as Israel? No, it is an elect group within Israel, those of Israel who repent, not everybody, those who repent, who retain a remission of their sins, who are clean, who have washed themselves clean. In contrast with them, in the next verse, we have criminals and sinners.
1:28 But criminals and sinners shall be altogether shattered when those who forsake the Lord are annihilated.
Criminals and sinners are there in a parallelism with those who forsake the Lord, they're not just criminals and sinners, from somewhere else they're from within the Lord's own people, not the enemies and adversaries we had a moment ago. If they are harassing His people, and not administering justice to the fathers and widows, are they His friends or His enemies? Obviously His enemies – same here.
When you forsake the Lord, what's left for you? Where do you go? Well, you go into a state of wickedness, right? And, what do you end up as? A criminal and a sinner, right? That kind of defines you when you forsake the Lord. Well, these will be shattered and annihilated. They will be eliminated. In a nice way? No. To be shattered doesn't sound very friendly does it?
In the Book of Isaiah what happens to these people? What happens to the wicked city? It goes into the dust. And, dust is a chaos motif. It means it goes back to its elemental state, to becoming a non-entity. They're actually physically annihilated. Just like Malachi said also "And, we'll discern between the righteous and the wicked and the wicked will be as dust under your feet."
1:29 And you will be ashamed of the oaks you cherished and blush for the parks you were fond of;
Now the oaks and the parks here are in parallel. And, that was a form of worship in ancient Israel. It was an idolatrous form of worship; where people were out in nature and doing orgiastic types of things out there and later on in the book of Isaiah, we see also that they're cultists and they're offering human sacrifices and other things like that. However, here he's not quite getting into that yet. Here he's more alluding to the beginning of those kinds of things. The words cherish and fond of, give you a clue. In Hebrew those words have the connotation of fawning adulation. The Hebrew word is actually hot. You're hot. You're in heat, after these kinds of things. It implies a perversion. And, the next verse, gives us a better clue, the next two verses of what this is all about. Yes, it is a kind of nature worship, as people did anciently in the Baal Cult. But also, we see that they're idolizing people in society.
1:30 you shall become like an oak whose leaves wither, and as a garden that has no water.
In Hebrew, the word for Oak "e;" also means mighty one. In fact, it's also the same word for God, "El." We say Elohim to identify God, but the word "el" is also "a god." And, it can also have the connotation of a mighty person. And, the oaks in general in the Book of Isaiah, are a metaphor describing the mighty Oaks of society, the elite peoples of the Earth. We have the Cedars, the high and mighty cedars and the Oaks that are hewn down by the King of Assyria. And, they represent people in society; the lofty people, the people of power, wealth, position, and the people whom people idolize. They are fawning over these people, according to these verbs. So, on a metaphorical level, it goes beyond just nature worship. It goes into idolatry or human idolatry, idolatry of idolizing people in society. Do we have that problem today? Who do we idolize today? – Movie stars, and sports heroes and some politicians, wealthy people, the high and mighty of society, the elite. That's what's alluded to here, the way that Isaiah uses the play on words with the word "el". In the other Hebrew prophets there are idol shepherds; like shepherd meaning a religious leader or person and they become idols to people. They do qualify also. The mighty – again, using the word mighty is the same word as oak, in Hebrew. So then it's people that we're talking about on the one level.
1:31 The mighty shall be as refuse, their works a spark; both shall burn up alike, and there shall be none to extinguish.
Refuse is a chaos motif. Right now these people are high and lifted up and there are certain people who idolize them. Well, they're going to be as refuse. They're going to be as we read in chapter two, "That which is high and lifted up is going to be reduced and abased. Refuse is certainly an image that you wouldn't want to be associated with.
"Their words a spark." – The works of these people are the very thing that ignites the whole conflagration, the whole destruction of the wicked. It is there wicked works. And, it is the works of the mighty of the Earth, not just the people in general. In a particular sense, it is there works; the whole structure of society is based upon these works of the mighty. And, it is a false structure. We'll see later on how Babylon structure is based upon the manufacture, sale, and promotion of the works of men's hands of idols. It is a false economic structure and social structure. And, it's going to be eliminated. Because we're going to have a new society, a Zion society takes its place.
The mighty shall be as refuse, their works a spark; both shall burn up alike, and there shall be none to extinguish." So, they and their works at the same time will be burnt up. How will they be burned up, by the fire? What fire? "The king of Assyria." Will anyone extinguish the fire? Will anyone come to their rescue? No. He keeps saying that over and over. No one will come to the rescue, not to the rescue of the wicked, where they chose their course.