Isaiah 1:1-2:5 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Law Will Go Our From Zion
Comments for Study 1

Isaiah 1:1-2:5
Memory Verse: 2:3a

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I. Ah, Sinful Nation (1:1-17; 21-31)

Isaiah's vision of the temple

* See the stained glass window of Isaiah's vision of the temple at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC to the right (by Cadetgray).

>1. During what time and to whom did Isaiah prophesy?

* Isaiah 1:1 "The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah."

* "The vision" -Although Isaiah saw many visions during his live, he realized that they all had one central theme and message. Therefore, he could say vision in the singular.

* "concerning Judah and Jerusalem" -In general his vision was not for the whole world, but only God's people.

* "that Isaiah son of Amoz" -His name means, "The Lord saves." He was a contemporary of Amos, HJosea and Micah, beginning his ministry in 740 B.C. the year King Uzziah died (6:1).

* "saw during the reigns of..." -Most of the events discussed in chapters 1-39 occurred during Isaiah's ministry. This was over several years as indicated by all the kings mentioned. Thus verse 1 is a beginning to the whole book, not just one vision. It is likely that these chapters were completed not long after 701 B.C. (eighth century B.C). 701 B.C. was when the Assyrian army was destroyed by Babylon. Isaiah lived during this change in world powers. He died either during or shortly after 681 B.C. (37:38). Isaiah may have written chapters 40-66 during his later years. In his message to the exiles of the sixth century B.C., Isaiah was protected into the future, just as the apostle John was in Rev. 4-22.

* "kings of Judah" -Isaiah is considered a prophet to Judah, the southern kingdom.

>What do you know about the four kings mentioned in verse 1?

* Most of these kings were godly before God.

* "Uzziah" -Uzziah (779-740 B.C.) was a godly king in his youth but became proud. He tried to burn incense in the alter, which only a priest could do. He immediately got leprosy and had to be confined to the palace. His son, Jotham reigned in his stead.

* "Jotham" -Jotham (740-736 B.C.) was the son and successor of Uzziah. When his father became a leper because of sin (see above) Jotham acted as king in his stead. Thus Jotham's reign as king started in 750 B.C., ten years before his father died. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for sixteen years. His mother's name was Jerusha. The sixteen-year period given for his reign may include the time that he acted as regent for his father, Uzziah. Jotham evidently was an effective ruler. His reign was marked by building projects, material prosperity, and military successes.

* "Ahaz" -Ahaz (736-728 B.C.) was not a godly king. Even from a human and historical point of view he was not a good king. Ahaz, whose name means “he has grasped,” was the son and successor of Jotham as king of Judah and the father of Hezekiah. Ahaz participated in the most monstrous of idolatrous practices (2 Kings 16:3). Isaiah gave counsel to Ahaz during the Syro-Ephraimitic crisis, when Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, joined forces to attack Jerusalem. The prophet Oded rescued some captives from Israel (2 Chron. 28). Ahaz refused the prophet's advice and appealed for help to Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria (Isa. 7). That appeal and the resulting entanglement had unfortunate results religiously and politically in that Ahaz surrendered to Assyrian domination. He even placed an altar made from a Syrian model in the Temple (2 Kings 16:11). Ahaz suffered the final humiliation of not being buried in the royal tombs (2 Chron. 28:15).

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>Find on a map Israel, Judah, Assyria, Aram, Egypt, and later, the Babylonian Empire. What was Israel's and Judah's situation in the geographical and political world picture?

* Israel and Judah were surrounded by powerful enemies at the start of Isaiah's ministry. Israel, the northern kingdom fell in the middle of his ministry to Assyria and were exiled there. Shortly after this in 701 B.C. Judah was attacked and lost land to Assyria. Jerusalem, however, was spared.

* Originally Israel was established between the Mediterranean eastern shore and the Arabian desert. The Jordan river was in the middle of the country flowing from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Before Isaiah's time Israel had split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom, containing most of the twelve original tribes retained the name Israel. The southern kingdom was named Judah. Isaiah lived in Jerusalem which is in Judah.

* Assyria was to the north of Israel. They were the super power of Isaiah's early ministry.

* Aram was the the east-south east of Judah. They too were a very powerful nation.

* Egypt is the the south-south west of Judah. They too were a super power during Isaiah's early ministry.

* The Babylonian Empire conquered Assyria in the middle of Isaiah's ministry. After Isaiah died Babylon conquered Israel, Judah, Aram and Egypt.

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>2. What is the first indictment from the Lord upon Judah which Isaiah shouts to the heavens and the earth? (2)

* Isaiah 1:2 "Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me."

* "Israel" -Here Israel refers to both kingdoms, the north and the south (Judah).

* Their master and owner who is God, the Lord, the one and only.

* In this verse the Lord is saying that an ox and donkey is better than Israel.

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>What did God's people not know or understand? (3)

* Isaiah 1:3 "The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand."

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>What was the result?

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>3. What was the situation of God's people at that time?

* Isaiah 1:4 "Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him."

* "spurned" -despised.

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>What was the reason for it?

* They have forsaken the LORD.

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>How does Isaiah describe the devastated condition of God's people in verses 4 and 5?

* Isaiah 1:4-5 "Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted."

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>What does this teach us about the nature and consequences of sin?

* Isaiah 1:6 "From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness--only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil."

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>4. According to verses 7 and 8 what seems to have happened to the nation?

* Isaiah 1:7-8 "Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. The Daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege."

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>How did the Lord Almighty show them mercy?

* Isaiah 1:9 "Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah."

* It was destroyed.

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>What had happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? (Gen. 19)

* They were destroyed in God's judgement.

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>5. Read God's indictment upon the religious leaders in verses 10-17.

* Isaiah 1:10-17 "Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah! "The multitude of your sacrifices--what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 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."

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>What did God think of the religious ceremonies which were supposed to be for the worship of God?

* He was detested by them.

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>Why?

* There was no room in their heart for God. They did not love God.

* They did evil deeds and did wrong.

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>Why did he not listen to their prayers? (15-16)

* Isaiah 1:15-16 "When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong,"

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>What did he want of his people? (17; Exodus 19:5-6)

* Isaiah 1:17 "learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

* Exodus 19:5-6 "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

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>6. How had the political leaders ruined the once faithful city of Jerusalem? (21-23)

* Isaiah 1:21-23 "See how the faithful city has become a harlot! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her--but now murderers! Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them."

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>What did God decide to do to cleanse and restore his city?

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>What would happen to unrepentant rebels and sinners? (24-31)

* Isaiah 1:24-31 "Therefore the Lord, the LORD Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: "Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City." Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness. But rebels and sinners will both be broken, and those who forsake the LORD will perish. "You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen. You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water. The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire."

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II. Come, Let Us Reason Together (18-20)

>7. What did God do about the rebellious and corrupted people? (18)

* Isaiah 1:18 ""Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."

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>Why did he want to talk with them?

* So they would be cleansed.

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>8. What was God's gracious invitation?

* "Though your sins are like scarlet"

* "they shall be as white as snow"

* "though they are red as crimson"

* "they shall be like wool"

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>How did he plant hope in their hearts? (19-20)

* Isaiah 1:19-20 "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

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>What does this reveal about God?

* Mercy.

* Kindness.

* Justice.

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>What is mankind's hope?

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III. The Law Will Go Out From Zion (2:1-5)

>9. What was God's hope when he chose and called his people? (Ex. 19:4-6; and 1 Peter 2:9,10)

* Exodus 19:4-6 "'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

* 1 Peter 2:9-10 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

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>What is his hope for his sinful people whom he longs to restore? (1-3)

* Isaiah 2:1-3 "This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem."

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>10. How can God's people draw all the people of the world?

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>What do they have that they can give the people of the world?

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>What is the hope that we can have from this vision?

* Isaiah 2:4-5 "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

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