Hope through Judgement of rebellion!

Ds J Bruintjes
Jesaja 1
Preek Inhoud: 

The covenant people of Israel had become like the world. And here was a prophet – that spoke the truth and nothing but the truth!  But boy can the truth be painful sometimes especially when it comes to us as sinful creatures.

But who does not want to hear the truth? Who wants to live in the fantasy world? but its hard to face the truth if the truth about us is bad, isn’t it? It brings shame, guilt, fear. Regret. So many feelings we would rather not feel. But what if you could hear the truth and have your fear, shame and guilt washed. But what if someone invited you and said, “COME! Come! though your sins are like scarlet they can be white as snow! Would you be willing to be honest about yourself? Wouldn’t it be easier?

A light to the nations

Here was a prophet that called them back to who they were to be! Holy. A light to nations!

This is about Gods heart for a lost world!  That is what chapter 1 is all about! Israel from the very beginning was called to be Gods servant to bring that light to the world. And this is the problem, rather than conquering the nations through the light of God, they had become like the nations and so the nations had overtaken them.

Hope through Judgement of rebellion!

  1. The Problem
  2. The Result
  3. Man Attempt
  4. God’s invitation

The Problem

We see in chapters 1-5 Israel is not an obedient servant, but rebellious. And this theme runs right through the book. We see the word rebellion come in the first two verses and the last two verses. Rebellion or transgression is purposeful sin. To deny any limit. Disobedience can be accidental, rebellion is not. Rebellion is a term of a people that know better.

God lays the charge against his people.  “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” That is graphic. My people are dumber than donkeys. They don’t know where the blessing is. Where the food is. My people do not understand. Heart breaking, when Gods own people go to every other feeding trough, but the one God has provided. We see this happening again and again.

And v. 4 says, “they have forsaken the LORD, the Holy One of Israel – they are utterly estranged.” In other words, Holiness seems utterly strange and foreign to them. They don’t even recognize it, even though this is why God called them out of Egypt to be Holy as he is Holy. This is not the world, beloved, this is Gods people.

Without holiness no one will see the LORD. This is the dilemma of the book. This is the dilemma of the Old Testament. How can a holy God and an unholy people find each other.

Judgement is the answer – the only answer for sin. But this judgement is always firs of all discipline. It is firstly purifying. We see it perfectly at the cross. Total judgement. Where God’s wrath was fully poured out to consume the Son! There he sent his Son into exile as a rebel, so that he might welcome rebellious sinners into his kingdom.

The Result

We see the result of sin. They are defeated. This is the law of idolatry through the ages. It kills. It sucks the life out of you. The joy the light and the strength.

And God asks them in verse 5, “Why will you be struck down, why will you continue to rebel?” in other words, “How long do you want to keep going with this?” This is not an arbitrary God. There are tragic results to sin you see it in your life. He is asking why are you doing this?  This suffering when we sin is bound up in the way God created the world.

What is to be done?  They should be destroyed. But they are not! God is faithful to his promises. Verse 9 says, “If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.” In a time when everyone is impressed with large empires, and big armies, God says I am the king of kings, the commander of heavens armies!  And if I will not leave some survivors my people would be flattened like Sodom and Gomorrah. But in wrath God remembers mercy!

But rather than turning to the Lord of hosts and living in obedience. What do the people do?

Mans solution

So what do we do – what does Israel do when struck down, when estranged from God. Well, we pick ourselves up by the bootstraps, and try our hardest to make God happy. Religion is man’s solution to it all! This is what the people do!

O WE KNOW! We will do more rituals! (v. 10-15). We will just cover up our life with a façade of worship.  This is a way of treating God like any other God. It’s all about making him happy. Pleaseing him with our worship somehow.  We treat God like anything else in the world. We can manipulate it to get what we want.

Its basically mans way to get to God. The tower of Babel over and over and over again.  As long as they could bring their offerings, they could go on and do what they want! They did not realize God does not need their offerings! He does not need our worship! Worship is not something we do to get God to love us, worship is something we do because God has saved us – has loved us! He has chosen them in love and saved them in Egypt!  You see God doesn’t hate worship – he hates worship and iniquity or twistedness> As verse 13 says, “I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.”

He has given himself for you and saved you and loves you and has given you all you need! So running after wealth, and fame, and comfort, and luxurious living is basically saying to God, your love is not enough! I want more than God! He does not need your sacrifices. He wants your heart! He wants you!

If you go to church the first day, and live like the devil the next six, you will hear the sound of God vomiting.   Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals  I hate with all my being.

Worship is an indication of your heart. God basically says, “You sacrifices make me sick!” Imagine some pastor saying that on a Sunday morning? You can imagine Isaiah at the temple, saying, “Who asked you to come here? Who asked you to bring it! I don’t want it!” But God, you told us.

 But I hope you see what happens when we worship this way. It becomes a burden to us and not an act of love, and true contrition. It becomes about something you do. SO, you want it your way. You are doing it, because you think it makes God happy and that’s it. It becomes something we must do to make God happy, not something we do in response to Gods covenant with us. And then it’s not only a burden to us, but a burden to God! v 14 says, “They have become a burden to me!”

Is your heart a heart of worship! You could almost say God hates the sin of hypocrisy the worst. Jesus harshest words came to the religious leaders. It is the broken, the contrite, the meek, those who mourn which are welcomed.

Ok, so we tried going about it our way. That obviously didn’t work. What now?

Gods’ solution.

Verse 16, “WASH YOURSELVES; make yourself clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my sight.” It begins with cleansing. But it does not end there. Instead of just bringing your offerings, go out and show the world that I live among you! “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widows cause.”

Don’t change your worship – but go out and live like you know me. Our life is shown by its fruit. Jesus says this over and over. He who abides in him will bear much fruit. What is that fruit – it is the character of God in his people. And what is the character of God. Love of others.

You see this is the principle we see through Scripture. David kept bringing offerings thinking as long as I keep on doing this then God will be happy. But it was not until Nathan the prophet accused maybe over eight months later that that he sang, that God did not want his sacrifices, he wanted a broken and contrite heart! Where sin is hidden and allowed to flourish, worship will be halfhearted and very burdensome to both God and the people. Where the love of God reigns, and sins are confessed, and we can weep over them, and experience Gods embrace there is rejoicing both in worship by Gods people and God rejoices over his people as they honor the sacrifice of his Son.


But God disciplines, and breaks us so that we find the only real thing that satisfies. Himself/ invites the sinner, the hypocrite, the lost and says, he says, “COME!” The God of the universe, the holy one, the God whom they rebelled against invites them to Come! Not to judgement but to forgiveness! COME! Wow! How gracious is our God! COME! He can say this to his people, because he will forsake and exile his own Son, so that he can say to us today COME!

V 18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD.” Come, says the Lord, Let’s think this through. Even though your sins are bloody red, they can be white as snow. Your rebelliousness can be changed. But not by goats. Not by the blood of sacrifices, but simply through humble repentance.  How? God would send his Son!

You show you know God, and God knows you by the way you live your life. Gods very nature and character as we will see in this book is self-giving, self-denying, sacrificial love. God the Father gives completely though the Son, the Son gives completely in obedience to the Father, the Spirit gives completely by pointing away from himself to Father and Son! It is his glory to love sacrificially.  Loving those who can give nothing in return. This is the gospel.

This the love of God in Christ. And God says, come to me you who are filthy, and covered in sin and I will wash you, I will show you my love, so that you can obey me, and love others the way I have called you. Are you willing?

Israel thought they could use God and be the god of God by manipulating him with worship. But God says I see right through you. The heart of sin is not accepting Gods way, and trying to make it out way. Adam and eve did it with fig leaves, and we can still do it with the fig leaves of religion. We will see this many times in the book.

They continue to do the exact opposite of what Gods wants. God says seek justice, correct oppression in v. 17 and in v. 23, their princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bride and runs after gifts. They are told to bring justice to the fatherless and plead the widow’s cause. But they (verse 23 “do not bring justice to the fatherless and the widows cause does not come to them.”

And so, God plans to come to them and calls them enemies, and he will melt them. This is a terrifying thing when God calls his people enemies! But dear church, this is what we were. This is the story of the Old Testament – pointing to Jesus. Jew and gentile alike stand under Gods wrath! And we think well of course he is going to destroy them! They are his enemies! He is a consuming fire! How can he not consume them after blatant rebellion? BUT NO!!!

He refines them. God saves through judgement!!! Judgement is never Gods intended last word it is always that they repent and be healed. He judges because his heart is the heart of love! He pursues, he disciplines, he judges to lead to cleansing and redemption! That is hard to believe.

But it reminds us of 1 Peter 7, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

I love v. 27. “Zion will be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.” Redeemed literally means “to be bought”, how do you redeem someone, or buy someone through justice? Its seems justice is not redeeming someone but giving someone what they deserve for their sin. But the Lord says through justice will he buy or save Israel.

He will redeem them. This Israel will be that Israel. How?! He will himself bear the justice for his people. He will take the greatest judgement upon himself by sending the Son to take our place! This book centers around the question of how Gods people can be who they were called to be! And the answer is the same answer it has always been – in the suffering servant – Jesus Christ!

But if you continue, and do not turn to be saved, then judgement is sure! He says in vers 30, “for you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water. The two choices are rot, or restoration through judgement.

Dear church we are so afraid of the word, judgement. But do we not want all things set right? Do we not want the word turned right side up! It all comes through judgement. Its only after the stump is cut down that the shoot begins to grow. Gods holy just judgement is also a purifying judgement. They way down is the way up. Brokenness is the way to healing. Those who are poor in spirit will receive the kingdom. Those who mourn will be comforted. It is only when we see our need that we see the true reality of the love and compassion of God. That we see the glory of Christ!