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Sermon: "It's Your Fault-- Not God's" (Isaiah 50:1-3)

Updated on March 25, 2017

The Prophet Isaiah

The Major Prophets

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The Author(s) of the Book of Isaiah

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More Than One "Isaiah"?

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"Trial Speech"

I. An Examination of the “Trial Speech” and Its Form

A. Earlier “Trial Speeches” that include rhetorical questions.

Q. What is a “rhetorical question”?

A question that does not expect a response because the answer is obvious or implied.

1. Isaiah 40:12-14, 18—Addressing Israel

2. Isaiah 41:2-4—Addressing the “Coastlands”

B. Trial Speech form in Isaiah 50 includes three parts.

1. Accused asks reproving questions to opponent regarding validity of the charge (vv. 1a-b).

2. Accused recites unrighteous deeds of opponent (vv. 1c-d, 2a).

3. Accused asserts innocence (v. 2a).

Thesis, Themes and Overview

Thesis and Themes:

  • Thesis: God is able to help and to vindicate His obedient Servant while at the same time judging the one who trusts in himself.


    •God’s faithfulness in His redemptive purposes

    •God’s power to deliver His people from danger

    •The obedience of the Servant of the LORD

    •God’s judgment upon all sinful self-reliance

Overview of Chapter 50

Three Divisions

•50:1-3-->Yahweh’s “Trial Speech”

•50:4-9--> A Prophetic Psalm of Confidence

•50:10-11-->Application/Exhortation Part of the “Servant Song”

•Presents a message of comfort in a section of the prophecy (40-55) that begins with Isaiah 40:1—“Comfort, comfort, My people”

Read Isaiah 50:1-11

Correcting Judah with Questions

II. Yahweh’s Rebuke of Israel’s Lament (vv. 1-2; cf. 49:14)

“You’ve abandoned us and sent us into exile!” “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Six Rhetorical Questions

A. The First Two Prove the Exile was Judah’s Fault (v. 1).

1. Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce?

Question implies no certificate of divorce existed. God considered the Exile a period of temporary separation, not divorce.

How often we blame God for our own poor circumstances! Blame shifting tendency is part of our fallen heritage. Think of Adam and Eve!

a. Deuteronomy 24:1-4

b. God: “not because of My unfaithfulness, but because of your transgressions” (overstepped boundaries just like the Northern Kingdom—Jer. 3:6-8)

2. Which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you?

a. Lev. 25:39-40; 2 Kings 4:1

b. Other sites: Neh. 5:1-5, 8; Matt. 18:23-25

c. God: “not because I owe anyone anything, but because of your iniquities” (the inherent bent toward evil in human character). Prior times He sold them: Judges 3:8; 4:2; 10:7)

B. The Next Two Questions Reinforce the Same Issue (vv. 2-3)

They are connected in thought to verse one. Why were you uncommitted? God says, “You were uncommitted to Me because of your sin; you did not (and would not) respond.”

1. Why, when I came, and there was no man?

Italics not in text. Yahweh's "feeling" of rejection is dramatically reflected in staccato language. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. How often I wanted to gather your children together . . . and you were not willing.”

Accepted View on the word “came”: Yahweh “came” in the prophets with a message of redemption; the people lacked commitment to Him.

2. Why, when I called, and there was none to answer?

a. The prophet had a specific purpose. Punitive judgment (Isa. 6:10)

b. The nation was strangely deaf (cf. 42:18-19)

6:10—”Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”

42:18-20– “Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see. Who is blind but My servant, or deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is blind as he who is perfect and blind as the LORD’s servant? Seeing many things, but you do not observe; opening the ears, but he does not hear.”

[Cause: idolatry (How many today are spiritually blind and deaf because of idolatry?)

C. The Last Two Questions Relate to God and His power.

1. Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?

a. Literally, “Is My hand so short from redemption?” The Hebrew grammar communicates Yahweh’s “surprise” at His supposed lack of power. The problem is not the LORD’s.

b. “short hand”—Israel was treating Yahweh as though He were something that had no power; a common idol.

Is. 59:1-2--“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Do we think that our problems are beyond God’s ability to resolve?

Is anything too hard for the LORD? Trouble with anger? Difficulty overcoming anxiety? Clueless as to money management? Appropriate the grace to believe what His word tells us about His love and faithfulness toward us.

2. Have I no power to deliver? Answer: No. I am plenty powerful to save you from your enemies. Verse 2b-3 remind us that

a. God caused the Red Sea to dry up; rivers run dry (cf. 42:15)

b. Egyptian plagues caused fish to die and to stink (Ex. 7:18)

c. God caused “blackness” to blot out the sun (v. 3; Ex. 10:21). “Sackcloth” brings out the concept of “mourning.”


With the mention of these three acts of divine power, Yahweh reproves Judah’s willful ignorance of Him, and at the same time shows them their lack of faithfulness to Him. These thoughts prepare them to be introduced to the true servant who teaches faithfulness to God by example, and manifests a true knowledge of Him: the Servant of Yahweh. We will look at Him next week as we examine the “Servant Song” in Isaiah 50:4-11.

© 2014 glynch1


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