Isaiah was warning them about their behavior and that what they were doing was going against God and what He has said. Isaiah warned them about pursuing wealth at the expense of others. Pursuing wealth was not the issue, even though that pursuit could become a god in one’s life, the problem was they were exploiting others for their own benefit.
The Next thing Isaiah warned them about was pursuing pleasure instead of seeking the things of God. Along with seeking pleasure they had attached themselves to sins and were no longer embarrassed by them but they were proudly displaying them for all to see. Like many who try and justify their behavior they were using Gods vocabulary but not God dictionary. They were changing the meanings of what God had said in order to fit their lifestyle rather than fit their lifestyle to what God has said. In all Isaiah had given them seven warnings that they would not listen to.
God is patient because in His patients He is hoping that people will heed the warnings and turn to Him but that does not mean that God will be patient with peoples actions forever.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The judgment of God does not come without warnings but when they do come His wrath is justified. No one should be shocked at the judgments of God because God will warn them. The reason people have a difficult time with the judgments of God because they make God like themselves. God is Holy and perfect and everything He does is right. To understand God we have to understand His justice.
Just: conforming to a standard of correctness; faithful to an original
Justice: the maintenance or administration of what is just
God, being the creator of the universe, is the original and He created us and we have sinned and moved away from the original. To bring something back to justice is to bring it back to the original or to hold it to the standard of what is right. This is why we say, “We are going to bring them to justice”, because we are going hold the person who did wrong to the original standard.
Isaiah 5:25 Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
1) God’s Anger brings Justice
“Therefore, the anger of the Lord was against His people.” When we think about God most people want to talk about His love, His Grace, His Peace and His patience but there are other attributes of God as well. God’s anger serves a purpose that many of us cannot understand because our anger is not perfect like His. Anger is not always wrong (Ephesians 4:26-31) and it is a strong emotion when there is injustice in the world. Most the time when we are angry it is out of selfishness,(I am not getting my way) or because we feel taken advantage of.(Control) We cannot think of anger like we have when we think of God.
Deuteronomy 32:4 The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.
The people in Isaiah’s day were sinning against God and their fellow man and so God was becoming angry with them because of the hurt they were doing to others. If you have ever been ripped off you know what it is like to want Justice to be served and you know how it feels to be wronged. Although we may have some Justice on this earth the ultimate justice is in the hands of God and we can rest in the fact that God sees everything.
The devastation that is mentioned in Isaiah 5:25 many believe to be an earthquake. The way it is written shows that it is God who is in in control of the destruction that is or has taken place. This is not to say that every natural disaster is because a nation has sinned but in this instance Isaiah is prophesying about what is to come and Isaiah is clearly saying that these events are from God. Seven Warnings were given and seven warnings were ignored and now God is bringing justice to those who continued to rob, steal, bribe and do everything for their own gain. Like children who ignore the warnings of punishment only to get the wrath of a parent so they children of God continued to ignore His warnings and they suffered the consequences for it.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”
People may think they are getting away with things on this earth but at the end of time God will make all thing right. Are you glad God sees everything? There is peace knowing that people will give an account to God and that He is not blind to the injustices that take place in our world. It is not what we are going through that matter as much as how we respond to it because God is in control and He will use all these things for purposes that go beyond our understanding. Our sense of right and wrong and fairness all come from God who created us this way. Atheist do not have an answer as to why we have this moral code of right and wrong inside of us but as Christians we know that it is because we are image bearers of God that He has placed that in how He created us.
Isaiah 5:26-30 He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come. 27 None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistband is loose, not a sandal strap broken; 28 their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind. 29 Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions they roar; they growl and seize their prey; they carry it off, and none can rescue. 30 They will growl over it on that day, like the growling of the sea. And if one looks to the land, behold, darkness and distress; and the light is darkened by its clouds.
2) God’s Justice brings fear
It is amazing how many times we talk about God but we never talk about fearing God. To fear God is to have a Holy reverence for Him. Fearing God is not a negative meaning you cannot approach Hi but it is a respectful way that He is God and He is powerful and He is worthy of our worship.
God will direct the attacking armies that Isaiah says will come and it will be God who will hold up a banner and whistle for them to come toward them and punish His rebellious people. By the time it is over the people have been warned that it will be a time of darkness, distress, gloom, and clouds of smoke. The imagery is similar to the concept of Hell that Jesus taught about. Jesus talked about Hell to warn us about the consequences of ignoring God and not accepting His way of salvation. Because God is just, justice has to be paid and Jesus is the one who paid off our penalty of sin. To try and earn our salvation through any way but Jesus will only lead to us being cast out of God’s presence. (John 14:6) God allows you to say no to Him but He also warns us about the consequences of doing so.
Matthew 8:11-12 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (See Also Matthew 25)
“The prophet’s role, and each reader’s responsibility, is to warn others of God’s impending Holy judgement and to persuade the ungodly to change their ways.” (The New American Commentary, Gary V. Smith, Pg 182
God is a God of love and it was through that love that He came to earth in the flesh of Jesus Christ. He lived, died and rose again because He loves us but He is also a God who is to be feared because His justice is pure and holy. If your perception of your sin is that God does not really care about how you live your life then you have the wrong view of God. Everything that God calls a sin is because it goes against His nature and character. To take sins lightly is to take the very nature of who God is lightly.
3) Jesus makes us Just
Jesus brings us before God as if we were never flawed because Jesus brings us back to the original. Some ask the question why God could not just forgive without Jesus dying on the cross. The reason is given in Romans 6:23
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The cost of sin is death and so death has to be paid in order for that sin to be wiped out. Jesus died once for all the sins that would be committed and those that humbly accept His free gift of salvation are made pure and Holy in the sight of God. This is why God cannot just forgive because someone has to pay the debt.
Romans 5:8-11 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Since death was the penalty the penalty had to be paid and Jesus paid it and therefore whoever believes in Jesus Christ will be made right with God. Justice was still paid only we did not have to pay it.
“Their roaring is like a lion who carries off their prey and no one can rescue them.” Lions were a problem and everyone knew if a lion got a hold of an animal or a human than there was not much they could do to save them. Isaiah was letting them know that there would be a time when it would be too late to repent. This is why Isaiah was pleading with his people to change their ways and turn to God because he knew if they did not do so ahead of time there would be no time to repent later.
Hebrews 9:24-28 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
After a person passes from this earth there will be no more time to repent but for those that do repent and trust in Jesus Christ as payment for our sins then we stand before God as if we have never sinned. We are seen as clean, holy and perfect because of Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and Jesus not anyone else including ourselves, will be able to make us where we can stand in the presence of a Holy God. The good news of Christianity is that Jesus takes the anger of God upon Himself and makes us righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Your right standing with God is not based on your works but on the finished work of Jesus. The people in Isaiah’s day did not see themselves properly and thought they were good with God by the few good things that they did while ignoring all the sins they were partaking in. Many in our world think they are on good terms with God for one reason or another but the only thing that can make us right with God is God Himself and that was accomplished when God came to earth as Jesus.