..but wait, there’s HOPE..

(Today’s post by Adam Cooper)

Isaiah 1

hope

There is so much of importance in Isaiah 1. First, the vivid description of Israel. There is nothing good in them. They are not even worth continuing to beat. You know you have reached the peaks of hopelessness when you are not even good enough to be beaten. They are compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. But God shows His grace and speaks of a remnant that prevents Israel from disappearing forever.  God tells them that they are detestable and that He has had enough of their sacrifices, and festivals because they continue to disobey and then run to Him with their meaningless offerings.  During this discourse we are provided with our second important tidbit and that is the prophetic reference to Jesus in Isaiah 1:18 where Israel is told that, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  The third important bit from this chapter is the purging and cleansing that is promised.

When one first reads Isaiah 1 this chapter may seem a bit rough. God really pulls no punches in His indictment of Israel. But when you look at the extent of Israel’s failure as God’s chosen, the language actually begins to appear a bit soft.  In any case, the original hearer would have needed this harshness in order to penetrate their sinful flesh. Just like today when someone hears the truth of Scripture and they first respond with skepticism and then conviction, I believe that God is trying to institute conviction into the nation of Israel.  God knows the extent to which mankind will fall, He knows our failures before we experience them. His will is for mankind to thrive and be happy and to be in an abiding relationship with Him but we always seem to mess that up.  Sometimes He needs to get our attention and that is what He is doing with Israel.

“White as snow” references back to Psalm 51:7. It is also used in Revelation 7:14 to speak of the ones who have survived the tribulation and washed their robes white in the blood of the lamb.   I believe that this portion of Isaiah was meant for those that would read Isaiah after Christ’s ascension and is another significant prophecy that establishes the intention of God to come as Christ as a redemptive sacrifice for our sins.  Similarly I believe that the language of purging the nation of Israel is a prophetic reference to the end times.  The NASB uses the word “smelt” meaning “to melt, to refine.”  This term is normally used in relation to melting ore by heating it to such a tremendous heat that it becomes liquid and Is purified from this process.  Every prophecy that is in Scripture concerning the end times definitely fits this idea of smelting or purification through intense heat.

When I begin to try to pull a meaning out of Isaiah 1 that is pertinent for today I believe there are a couple.  First, God’s grace.  No matter how bad we are or how bad the world becomes we are still loved by God and there is still hope.  If the nation of Israel can fail miserably for so many years and still be promised a place in Christ’s kingdom then we should all be hopeful. Second, we can be made clean.  Jesus made this possible, His sacrifice was enough.  All we have to do is believe and turn away from our sins.

God gives us our action steps in verse 16, “wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight!  Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” And from verse 19, “be willing and obedient.”

 

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