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Some church leaders complained to one of my friends, “You seem to only have one message and that is all you preach about.”
My friend replied, “When you start doing what I’m talking about, I will change the subject.”
I am sure Isaiah would have sympathized with my friend. Almost the entire first section of Isaiah (chapters 7-39) has one central theme.
Isaiah used different means, but the message remained the same: trust in humans will fail you, but reliance upon God will serve you well.
An Appeal to Women
Some scholars wonder if Isaiah decided to talk to women, so they might convince their husbands to think differently about Isaiah’s counsel.
Let’s remember that the prophetic word is a gift from God. Jonah proclaimed God’s intended destruction of Nineveh and the people changed their behavior. Their repentance allowed God to spare the city.
Just because Isaiah prophesied destruction, didn’t mean it had to happen. If the people turned from their prideful self-sufficiency to reliance upon God, they would be spared.
Like Jonah, Isaiah spoke of imminent danger.
Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;
you complacent daughters, listen to my speech.
In little more than a year
you will shudder, you complacent ones;
for the vintage will fail,
the fruit harvest will not come.
Tremble . . .
for the soil of my people
growing up in thorns and briers;
yes, for all the joyous houses
in the jubilant city.
For the palace will be forsaken,
the populous city deserted . . . (Isaiah 32.9, 11-14)
The word “complacent” stands out in Isaiah’s criticism. The definition of complacent is: “Satisfied with the current situation and unconcerned with changing it, often to the point of smugness.”
The prophet’s role is to shake people out of their complacency.
Jonah was a Hebrew prophet, who traveled to the capital city of a powerful and enemy nation. He walked through the city of Nineveh with one message – they were about to be destroyed by God.
The people of Nineveh were shaken from their complacency and changed their behavior.
The people of God in Jerusalem may have thought that God would treat them differently from the other nations. Isaiah’s repeated message of impending doom was coupled with promises of prosperity, hoping for repentance.
It is quite sad to note that the pagan city Nineveh repented, while God’s people in Jerusalem refused to change.
What sort of message is this to America? Is there something we need to hear from the Book of Isaiah? If so, how well are we responding?
Who Do You Trust?
A basic truth of life is that God cannot fill what he does not rule. The problem is that humans don’t want to be ruled by anyone, including God.
The cross of Jesus Christ was a solution. If it was a solution, it reveals the horrific nature of humanity’s problem. Our rebellion against God required an act of the greatest love the world has ever known.
From the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden until now, God comes looking for people. Rebellion turns from God to self-rule.
God’s love reaches out to us and draws us into the life we have always wanted, but have resisted.
Only God’s Spirit can draw us into the kind of relationship we have been describing.
Until a Spirit from on high is poured out on us,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. (Isaiah 32.15-16)
Throughout the Book of Isaiah, the people of Jerusalem and Judea have been concerned with externals. Their major interests are economic and political security. They want the good life, free from any obstructions.
Two words that occur with great frequency state what God wants – righteousness and justice.
God knows that an inside condition defined by righteousness and justice produces what the people have always wanted.
The effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah 32.17-18)
How do peace and well-being become our possession? When we live in righteousness and justice.
The best definition of righteousness and justice is not a dictionary definition. The best picture is to immerse ourselves in the life and teaching of Jesus. Not only will that show us what it is like, but it will change us as we read.
God’s Spirit – Our Helper
Before we end this article today, we need to return to the role of the Holy Spirit in producing the kind of life that God looks for.
When Paul tried to live a just and righteous life he could only state, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7.15).
In frustration at his inability to accomplish what he wanted, Paul exclaimed, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7.24).
In the next chapter, Paul provided what was the solution to his problem. He said, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you[b] free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8.2).
Seven hundred years before Paul, Isaiah prophesied that God’s Spirit from on high would be poured out on people (Isaiah 32.15).
When we surrender the rule of our lives to God’s Spirit, he produces in our lives righteousness, justice, and well-being.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.