Have you ever met someone who refused to go to the Doctor even though they are sick? Some people when sick will refuse to go to a Doctor but have no problem going around to other places spreading their germs. What is worse is if someone who is sick that does not know they are sick. Some people have had things like cancer growing in their bodies but they did not feel the effects of it until it was too late.
Isaiah is addressing people who are sick but they do not see themselves as being sick and will not accept his prognosis of their lives.
To go from Sickness to Health
1) Admit that You are sick
Isaiah 1:4-9 Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. 5 Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.7 Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. 9 If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.
This was the chosen nation of God that Isaiah was talking to not some rebellious nation that sacrificed their children to idols. In our day we would say these were church going people who were doing some good works and were worshiping God. What they did not realize is that they have allowed sin to corrupt them to the point that they no longer saw the things they were doing as sin. Many times in life we make excuses for what God calls sins. We call them mistakes, bad habits or we even say things like “this is just the way I am” or “this is just how I was raised”.
Isaiah used the terms; Sinful Nation, Evil Doers, Corrupt, Forsaken the Lord, and rejected the Lord to describe who they were. This would have been a shocking revelation to them because they thought they were good people who were on good terms with God. Isaiah then paints a picture of a person who is totally beat up to show how God viewed them. The people were like the Religious leaders of Jesus Day who thought their outward actions covered the fact that they were really dead inside. (Ephesians 2:1)
We do not see the full effect that sin has but from God view sin is like an enemy that has burned the place down and left it destroyed or like a person with untreated oozing sores that are so disgusting that you cannot even look at them. Sin is so deceptive that we do not see the full outcome of the path it is leading us down. (Proverbs 16:25)
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Genesis 3:14 Satan told Adam and Eve that they would not die if they disobeyed God. No one sees the end results of sin like God because God can see from beginning to end. We, like the people Isaiah was addressing, do not see ourselves as that bad but if we do not accept the diagnoses that God says about us then there will be no chance for healing.
Because the people did not listen to Isaiah he tells them they will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. I want you to imagine a prophet walking up to you and accusing you of sins that were taking place in Hollywood or in politics. Many of us can see the wrongs that actors and politicians and how corrupt they are but we cannot see how corrupt we really are. We tend to think of those places as evil while our own actions are good and we tend to see the sin in others while ignoring it in ourselves.
Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
When we have the wrong view of sin then we will allow things into our lives that we do not realize are leading us toward death. We are not good people who need to correct a few things in our lives to be healed we have a terminal illness that has to be miraculously healed.
Isaiah 1:10-15 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching[b] of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
2) Realize you cannot heal yourself
All the religious activities that they were doing meant nothing to God. We live in a society that thinks they can make up for some sins by doing a few good things but a bunch of Sacrifices do not please God when your lifestyle shows no remorse for how you are living and how you are treating people. You cannot give money to a church and give of your time and energy and then live however you want. This was exactly what the people in Isaiah’s time were doing. They felt like since they worshiped and sacrificed how they lived the rest of the week was not important. God was sick of a ritualistic religion that had no heart relationship with God and no change in behavior and Isaiah was letting them know what God thought about their lives.
God told them that “Your Hands are full of Blood” because all of their religious activity did not make up for how they were acting outside of the temple. How they were treating people an how they ran their businesses were all things God hated yet when they came to worship Him they thought they could just do all the religious activities to make up for all the things we have done. The biggest lie people believe is to think that by their works they can please God or make up for the wrongs they have done.
Galatians 2:21 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[a] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
If we could do all the right things to earn Gods favor Christ died for nothing. This is also true for those who believe that all roads lead to God. If all roads lead to God then how cruel that Jesus had to die a gruesome death for our sins for no reason. Christ died as the perfect sacrifice because we could not be in a right relationship with God on our own accord. People do not see how separated from God we really are and that is why they think that they can do a few things to make up for wrong behavior.
Isaiah lets them know that they are so separated from God that He cannot hear their prayers and He will not look upon the worship they were giving to Him. This was a shocking statement then and this is a shocking statement now to be told that God is separated from you. The only reason we can in a right relationship with God is because Jesus did something about our sins. He did not just forgive our sins He paid for them. (Others verses by Grace and not by works Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6; Galatians 2:16)
Isaiah 1:16-17 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
3) Change our ways
Isaiah is now calling on them to change the way they live when he says “Wash Yourselves”.
Although our salvation is through Christ we do take part in the cleansing process in our daily lives. We are called to get things out of our lives and to also add things to them.
2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
We are called to accept the free gift of salvation that is only possible through Christ but then we are asked because of what Christ has done to get rid of things in our lives that are not pleasing to God. If I had heart problems I would go to a heart surgeon and if he fixed the problem then it is up to me to stop eating certain things and then add to my life exercise. Christianity is similar in that we cannot heal ourselves but once we are healed we are told to add things that benefit our calling and to remove things that can damage us. Those who say they are Christians but do not change any of their behaviors that are unpleasing to God have to really search their hearts to see if they are truly Christians. How we live in light of what Christ has done for us shows us how we love Him.
James 2:14,26 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 1 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
You can say you love someone but if your actions do not show love then you do not love them. If you say that you have faith in Jesus but your actions do not change then you do not have faith in Jesus.
Jesus, being The Vine,(John 15:5) will flow through you to change you to be more like Him. Our part to play in all of this is to get rid of the things that are hindering our growth just like a farmer would remove toxins and weeds and add fertilizer and water.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Sin is a weight that weighs us down or a vine that clings to us and slows us down. Are there things in your life that are not pleasing to God? No one says they want to be controlled by a sin but when those things come into our life and we do not get rid of them they will wrap around us and slowly destroy us. Many addicts did not start off wanting to be addicts instead they thought that the thing they were participating in was under their control until they realized they no longer controlled it but it controls them. Sin is deceptive and will lead you down a path of destruction but will keep you blinded to the destruction it is doing to you.
Read Isaiah 1:18-20 Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
4) Accept the offer to get well
Even though Isaiah said to get rid of those things that were making them sick he also knew that this was not something they could do by themselves. Isaiah did not want to leave the people without hope so he lets them know that they can be back in a right relationship with God because of God. They thought that they were good with God and yet they were told they were like Gomorrah, a pagan city that Gods wrath came against. They thought their religious practices were good and they were told that God hated them. They were told that they had to change their life and discouragement was setting in because they knew in and of themselves they could not change. Isaiah then offers them hope by letting them know how to be in a right relationship with God.
“Come Let us Reason”: means to test what is right. You have to decide if you want to take the offer from God that is on the table. You can choose to reject it but you will also be accepting the consequences that will follow. “White as Snow”: God can do what you are incapable of doing.
Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Isaiah was letting them know that this is not something you can do it has to be done to you. God will then remove your sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) God is Holy (v4) and the only way we can be in His presence is if we are Holy and the only way we can be Holy is if He makes us Holy.
In order for us to be in right relationship with God is to have our sins removed and only God could remove it. If you are willing (19) it is a decision on your part if you want God to restore the relationship with Him. But if you refuse: the punishment is death (the sword)
Do you think your actions of worship, tithe and service have been enough to please a Holy God? You have to accept the free offer of salvation that is promised through Jesus Christ in order to be made Holy.
The Bad News is you cannot be good enough and the Good News is you cannot be bad enough because Jesus took care of every sin on the cross that was separating you from God. We are sick people who the only cure is through Jesus Christ and to reject that cure is to face separation from God for all eternity.