The book of Isaiah is a tremendous book that often overwhelms the soul as much as it overwhelms the senses. So large is it that it becomes too easily neglected in our Christian walk. I confess that apart from the major sections that are cited for the coming of Christ, it is a book in which my understanding and appreciation is significantly lacking. Therefore, I recently decided to start studying the book in more depth, but differently than I’ve done with other books.
First, I need help, so I’ve enlisted the work of one primary commentary to help me in my study. Unless something is extremely unclear, I do not want to spend a lot of time going from commentary to commentary, but simply utilize one of the best to guide me after I’ve made my own readings and observations of the text (while there are many great commentaries, and there are certain viewpoints I would not agree with, I have settled on using The Prophecy of Isaiah by J. Alec Motyer; click the title to learn more). The second weapon in my arsenal is the ESV Scripture Journal for Isaiah. There is sufficient room around the text itself to draw points, make connections, and note observations. I can then use the line portion to summarize, highlight important aspects, and make conclusions/applications. There are even some blank pages and space in which I was able to write out details about the book as a whole in order to understand the historical context, write a minibiography on Isaiah, and begin an informal outline of the book . . . the quality is exceptional also, sufficient enough to handle the use of my fountain pens.
Why share these details? First, in hopes that it will encourage others in their own personal study and walk with the Lord. Second, because it sets the stage to share with you what the Lord is teaching me through the initial embarkation of this study.
After setting the context with an introductory phrase (1:1), Isaiah launches into an indictment against the people of Judah (1:2-9). They are God’s chosen people but have squandered the blessings that God has lavished upon them by their continual engagement in sin. Verse four uses four nouns that convey God’s blessing. The words nation, people, offspring, and sons remind them of God’s sovereign call to them as His people. Even the word offspring reminds them of this while connecting them to God’s faithfulness through his promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4). Yet, each noun is qualified with a description that is indicative of their level of rebellion, noting that they are sinful nation, a people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, and sons who act corruptly.
The indictment against them stings further as Isaiah calls them out for their foolishness. He proclaims, “Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion?” pointing out how irrational sin is. Those who are slaves to it, persist in sin despite its fatal consequences. While their state lies in ruin (see verses 7-8) they continue to engage in their destructive behaviors. It points to the irrationality of sin in that despite the destruction many are unwilling to give it up.
Certainly, sin is a struggle. I suspect all of us could think of some areas in which we are laboring to overcome, battles that seem like they will never leave us. Why is sin so irrational and why does it seem to capture a hold on us? Is there an area in particular in which you sense the Lord’s conviction more profoundly? Consider these points over the next week and return with me next week to discuss the difficulty and options for overcoming sin further.