“Isaiah” by Michelangelo c. 1508–1512, Sistine Chapel ceiling, Vatican City
By Pastor Glem Melo
Today at Kagay-an Reformed Church, we are starting a new series on the book of Isaiah:
GOD SENDS HIS WORD OF WARNING AND PROMISE TO HIS COVENANT-BREAKING PEOPLE
“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” (Isaiah 1:1)
- God never fails to fulfill His promise to send preachers to His covenant children.
- God sends His word to warn His covenant children about His judgment.
- God sends His word to comfort and strengthen His covenant children with His gospel promise.
Engraving of the Prodigal Son as a swineherd by Hans Sebald Beham, 1538
Despite of His people’s unfaithfulness and the world’s aggression, God remains unstoppable in His determination to fulfill all His covenant promises, and that is good news! That is the heart and center of what YAHWEH the perfect covenant-keeper sent His prophets to proclaim to His covenant-breaking children.
“[T]he book of Isaiah… comes to us as a word from God, a revelation of the inevitable conflict between divine glory and human pride, of the self-destruction which that pride must bring, and of the grace of God in restoring that destroyed humanity to himself. To read the book with the open eyes of the spirit is to see oneself, at times all too clearly, but also to see a God whose holiness is made irresistible by his love.” – John Oswalt
“[T]here is nothing contained in this book which was not made known to Isaiah by God himself… [T]he prophets did not speak of their own accord, or draw from their own imaginations… [T]hey were enlightened by God, who opened their eyes to perceive those things which otherwise they would not of themselves have been able to comprehend. Thus the inscription of Isaiah recommends to us the doctrine of this book, as containing no human reasonings, but the oracles of God, in order to convince us that it contains nothing but what was revealed by the Spirit of God.” – John Calvin
“A microcosm of [Isaiah’s] message appears in 1:2–2:5… [God’s] people… have received so much privilege from [him] and ought to be grateful children, but ‘they have despised the Holy One of Israel’ (1:2– 4). He describes the purpose of the various judgments they face, namely, to bring them to repentance, or at least to preserve a remnant who will repent (1:5–9). Judah is very diligent to observe the divinely appointed sacrifices, but the people’s hearts are far from God… (1:10–20). The Lord called his people to be the embodiment of faithfulness in this world, and yet they are now filled with rampant unfaithfulness… but God intends to purge Zion of its sinful members and set her up as a beacon of light for the whole world. In view of this glorious future, [God’s people] should commit themselves afresh to walking ‘in the light of the LORD’ (1:21–2:5).” – ESV Study Bible
“The first chapter of Isaiah has been called by Ewald the great arraignment. It… suggests a court of justice; and it has often been pointed out that God is both Judge and Plaintiff, Israel the defendant, heaven and earth the jury, while the prophet is both principal witness and prosecuting attorney. But all this is apt to withdraw the attention from the real pathos of the scene. No doubt there is a judge, and judgment is pronounced. But the Judge is a Father. The paraphernalia of the court-room pass into insignificance when there is heard the exceeding bitter cry, ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.’” – James Hastings
“There would be a purging of the nation because God is holy. Before the nation could inherit the promises made to the fathers, it would have to be made holy. So God would use the pagan nations to chasten Israel for its sins and cleanse it from iniquity. And even though the judgment of the captivity would punish sin and destroy the wicked unbelievers, the removal of iniquity would ultimately be the work of the Servant of the LORD, the promised Messiah.” – Allen Ross
“Isaiah is the Paul of the Old Testament in his teaching that faith in God’s promises is the single most important reality for the Lord’s people: this is the heart of chapters 1-37. He is the ‘Hebrews’ of the Old Testament in his proposal of faith as the sustaining strength of the Lord’s people in life’s dark days: this is the heart of chapters 38-55. He is also the James of the Old Testament in his insistence that ‘faith works’, proving itself in obedience: thus chapters 56-66.” – Alec Motyer
“It is indeed a very severe trial when [servants of God] perceive that by their manifold exertions they are doing no good, and imagine that it would be a thousand times better to relinquish their post than to labor so long in vain. Such examples, therefore, they ought frequently to set before them and call to remembrance; how Isaiah, whose labors were numerous and extensive, had little success, and how Jeremiah continued for fifty years to cry aloud to the people, though the result was that they became more and more rebellious, and how no difficulties could turn them aside from their course. We, too, ought to proceed in the discharge of our duty, and patiently to endure every kind of annoyances.” – John Calvin