I have been eager to meet with you. I have been eager for you to recognize Me and the preciousness of our relationship, by spending time alone with Me. I have enjoyed your eagerness in coming to Me. I am most glorified when you are enjoying Me most – so it warms My heart when you come out of a sense of love and not out of a sense of duty, out of a sense of wanting to spend time with Me, not because you are desperate or hoping for relief. Yes, recognizing your need, is the first step to seeking Me, but your greatest need is simply to open your eyes to what I have already given you, to open your eyes to Me and My presence and My love and what that means to you. So, remember “you are My beloved Son, in you I am well pleased”, that is because you are “in Jesus”.
Now as we come back to Isaiah, ch 1, bear with me while I do a rough summary of what he has written in that chapter. Before we apply it to ourselves though, we need to bring it into a contemporary context. The prophecy is directed at the Israelites, who are identified as “God’s children” in vs 2. So who are “God’s children” today? Not South Africa, not the Afrikaners who trekked up North and their descendants, not the American South. It is the Church. We are regarded by God as His children. So we need to apply the accusations from Isaiah, to the church as a whole in SA, to our local church and to each one of ourselves, individually as members of God’s church.
The main accusation, which underlies al the other is in 4(b). “They have forsaken the Lord, they have spurned the Holy One of Israel, and turned their backs on Him.” There are huge problems in God’s “church” in SA. How much of that is due to the fact that they have lost contact with the very One, whom the church is all about? What can I do to make sure I don’t lose contact with God through Jesus? Can we do something about the general state of the church in SA? Well maybe even if we can redouble our prayers for the wider church. We can make sure each one of us however, lives according to His gospel and not by the law.
What are the symptoms of this loss of contact? Corruption vs 4. He speaks of evil deeds and doing wrong v 16 & 4, which seems to be shown by a lack of justice and a neglect of the oppressed, fatherless and widows. Much more will play out as we read further in Isaiah. But the result is really frightening. All their religious rites and acts have become an abomination before God. He declares He will NOT hear their prayers, no matter how much they pray vs 15. Just stand back and think of the many church services, with all sorts of rituals and rites, being held around the country. How much are all these things directed at building the people’s relationship with God and their brothers and sisters? I think there is a massive slide into nominalism.
Is there no hope? Well the well-known vv 18,19 shout out there is real hope from a merciful God. These vv will be played out to a greater degree later as he starts writing about the “Servant Songs” from ch 40, looking forward to the coming of the Messiah who will be the one through whom this cleansing will occur.
Then later from vv 24 onward, he speaks about a cleansing judgement from God in which many will be broken and perish but, and here is the good news, there will be remnant who repent V 27 a. This is a theme of Isaiah (and the whole OT). The theme of a chosen remnant, from whom the Messiah will arise.
So how much of what is happening in SA today is part of God’s judgement against His church, who has lost contact with Him? Becoming taken up with all sorts of other issues, changing the bible to suite their own desires and needs? Remember the words of Peter in 1 Peter 4 17 “For it is time for judgement to begin with family of God”. It places so much urgency on sharing the true gospel of God, to begging people to repent and to pray for all this with a greater level of understanding and fervency.
- The spirit of the Pharisees, Lives on in the Church.
- The Mystery of Wisdom vs Knowledge.
- Wisdom, humility and understanding (listening).
- Wisdom expressed as trust.
- The Messiah, revealed to Some.
- Perfection is the Aim.
- Psalms, a Song To the Lord.
- The Anchor of His Grace.
- God's Purpose for His People.