Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for July 8, Isaiah 1-4

Today's readings are Isaiah 1-4. Tomorrow's are Isaiah 5-8.

Isaiah was sent to prophesy to Israel between about 740 BC and 700 BC, during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah of Judah. 

Assyrian is again a rising super-power. Here's the world situation during Isaiah's time. Assyria is expanding rapidly. Northern Israel has been captures ans Samaria will soon fall.

Isaiah is a large book with a number of narrative themes. However the over-arching theme is about God and the redemption of His people through purifying judgment. If this is not kept in mind, the book will seem to ramble off in different directions. 

Isaiah is a prophet of God sent to warn His people that they have broken His covenant with them. The consequences would be severe but God will, in the end, judge the nations that oppress His people and deliver Judah back to the land He promised them. 

Here's how the book is broken up. 

Isaiah 1 brings a God-authored ultimatum and warning. Judah had been attacked. Jerusalem had been miraculously delivered. Still, they refused to turn back to God. God delivers His ultimatum, either they turn back and obey Him or they will be destroyed. 

God is not interested in their rituals and practices however holy they may seem. The heart of the people is not for God. Therefore their worship and the practice of the religion is empty and meaningless. 

Isaiah 2 first depicts Jerusalem as it will one day be, the focal point of God's kingdom of peace (Is 2:1-5). Prior to that day, the Lord will rain judgment down on them if they continue to ally themselves with ungodly nations, accumulate wealth and weapons and worship idols. Judah's people are trusting in other men, their possessions, their own power and other gods. 

Isaiah 3 holds the leaders responsible for the spiritual welfare and state of the people. The leaders are arrogant and oppressive.The wealthy are prospering at the expense of the poor. The well-to-do women are prime examples of the problem.  

Isaiah 4 tells us that the coming judgment will be fierce and horror-filled.  In spite of this, this harsh judgment is intended to purify, not destroy. There would be a remnant that would rise up from the debris and become a holy nation. There are echoes of the Messiah in here but they're not clear enough and strong enough that the Jews of Isaiah's time would have embraced these early chapters as a Messianic prophecy. 

The warnings are dire. But in them and in the promises that are embedded in these chapters, we see that God will do whatever is necessary to purge His people of sin and ungodly behavior.

Reading the first few chapters with God as the focus, it soon becomes clear that Isaiah is all about a holy God conforming His people to His standards of holiness. 

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