Bible: What Does Isaiah 1-2 Teach Us About Pride, Repentance, and Messiah's Future Earthly Kingdom?
Isaiah 1-2-- Needed: Repentance from Pride; Yahweh's Future Kingdom on Earth
Isaiah's first verse indicates the mode of revelation (vision, cf. Num. 12:6), the recipient of the revelation (Isaiah), the subject matter of the revelation (Judah and Jerusalem), and the time of the revelation (during the reigns of four kings of Judah).
The LORD through this prophet summons the created world to witness the wicked rebellion of God's people, who continue their evil ways despite their privileged position (v. 2).
In terms of knowing and obeying their master, the people have shown that they have less sense than brute beasts (v. 3).
Two Doomed Cities
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Departing from Faith in Yahweh
Four descriptive pictures emphasize their sinful condition. God also categorizes their actions in three ways (v. 4), demonstrating to them why they are so miserable.
In a word, they are in disarray morally because they have abandoned the LORD spiritually.
In describing Judah's spiritual status, the prophet depicts the nation as completely unhealthy, perhaps even leprous (vv. 5, 6).
God intends this chastening to bring them to repentance, but they respond poorly.
An invader's destructive work upon Judah (v. 7) and the latter's reduction to poverty (v. 8) add even more pathos to the sorry affair.
Nevertheless, the prophet does mention that the LORD has showered His mercy upon a remnant (v. 9; cf. Rom. 9:29).
As God's spokesman, Isaiah addresses the rulers of the people (he designates the nation "Sodom and Gomorrah"), commanding them to listen to Torah and stop bringing sacrifices (vv. 10-13), because their followers—namely, the people—are morally and spiritually impure, and therefore incapable of pleasing the LORD (vv. 14-15).
Instead, they should repent and bring forth the fruits thereof—works of social justice (vv. 16-17).
Insisting that their obedience to Him is a reasonable command (v. 18), God offers cleansing and restoration if they repent (vv. 18-19); however, He promises destruction if they persist in their rebellion (v. 20).
Thus ends the initial thrust, and the stating of both the problem and its solution.
Isaiah's Second Sermon
Isaiah’s second sermon assails the unrighteous conditions in Jerusalem by listing the people's neglect of some of the very actions he commanded them to begin doing (vv. 21-23; cf. v. 17).
As the result of their behavior, God reveals His determination to judge them with destruction (vv. 24-25).
After this chastening, however, He promises to restore them to righteousness (a Messianic kingdom characteristic, v. 26).
Those who repent will obtain redemption, but destruction awaits transgressors (vv. 27-28). Wrong affections and their resulting punishment cause shame in Jerusalem (vv. 29-31).
Pride and Humility
In verses 10-21 Isaiah highlights both the humiliation of every proud thing and the exaltation of the LORD “in His day.”
He employs repetitious phrases to emphasize both facts:
(1) "from the terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty" (vv. 10, 19, 21);
(2) lofty/loftiness of man shall be humbled/bowed down; haughtiness of man shall be bowed down/brought low, "and the LORD shall be exalted in that day" (vv. 11, 17).
Verse 10 is a command to enter into the "rock," while verse 19 foretells that they will go into the holes of the rocks (cf. also v. 21).
Beginning prepositional phrases ten times with the term upon, Isaiah lists proud things that God will humble.
Finally, the man of God issues a strong command for the LORD's people to separate themselves from such vain, insignificant men who are proud (v. 22).
Why? Because he sees no reason exists for the latter to be so highly esteemed.
Earthly Kingdom of God?
Will there be an earthly kingdom of the LORD?
The Earthly Kingdom of the LORD
The beginning of this chapter resembles that of the first; differences include the substitution of "word" for "vision," and the omission of the date of composition (v. 1).
Isaiah prophesies about the establishment, exaltation, and “many-nation” flavor of God's kingdom in “the latter days” (v. 2).
Yahweh Himself will preside as Teacher and Judge of many peoples (vv. 3-4).
The saved population will desire not only to hear, but also to do His law (v. 3), and God will establish world peace (v. 4; cf. Joel 3:10).
Jerusalem will become the universal capital, and stand elevated above high "mountains" (v. 2).
[The term "mountains" probably refers to Gentile empires or kingdoms (cf. Dan. 2:35)].
Then the atmosphere of the text changes abruptly. It is as though Isaiah were saying, "Someday righteousness and peace will reign, but right now only every evil thing exists."
The prophet first exhorts Jacob to "walk in the light of the LORD" (v. 5).
Then addressing God, he enumerates why the LORD is currently punishing His people, Jacob (vv. 6-9).
Jacob's sins—false prophecy (v. 6), crass materialism and reliance on the military (v. 7), and wholesale idolatry (v. 8)—abound.
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