Even though Isaiah is trying to get their attention the people are still not listening and now he is going to try and convince people to look at the mistakes of their brothers to the north (Israel) God’s wrath is clear throughout the Bible and His wrath is not just an Old Testament concept but is something that is necessary because of His Holiness and His Justice. Jesus death on the cross provided a way for God’s wrath to be removed from us but even Jesus Himself said that not everyone has God’s wrath removed from them just because He died for everyone.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Notice that believing in Jesus means you will obey Him. You do not do good works to earn Christ favor you do good works because God pours His life in and through you and therefore you do the works He wants you to do. Religion says that you do good works to earn God’s favor but Christ died to put us in a relationship with God and from that our lives will do the works He desires us to do. Romans chapter eleven says we are grafted into the vine and now the vine, who is Jesus Christ, (John 15:5) flows through you. Never think that Christianity is about living right without first believing and then receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to do so.
The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus at the cross and you can accept it or you can take the wrath yourself by being eternally separated from God. (Romans 2:5) If you go back to Isaiah chapter six we see that Isaiah was touched and his sin and guilt were removed it had nothing to do with his actions. When we humble ourselves before God and accept His free gift of salvation then we are freed from not only the sin but the guilt that accompanies it.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered[a] once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
We do not have to punish ourselves for our sins because Christ already did that for us. Yes, you will suffer consequences here on earth (Galatians 6:7) but we do not have to punish or try to do good works to make up for our sin because Jesus death on the cross is what makes us right in the eyes of God.
We are going to see why God’s wrath is still against them and why so that we, like the nation of Judah, have an opportunity to learn from it. We must remember that God’s wrath is not like our wrath because our wrath can be off of emotions, lack of control or even wrongly given because of our limited knowledge. God’s wrath is always perfect because God is perfect and there is no injustice with God.
Many times when people think of Gods wrath they have the wrong view because they think God is like them. Isaiah is going to show them that God’s wrath is going to be poured out against an unrepentant people, a leadership that is leading people away from God and a nation that continues to ignore God.
Read Isaiah 9:8-13 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: 10 “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.” 11 But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies.12 The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. 13 The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
1) Gods wrath against prideful people
The people of Israel (Northern Kingdom, Judah was southern) were warned but they would not listen.
Isaiah was using the Northern Kingdom to show the Southern Kingdom that they did not have to have the same fate as them if they would turn to God. God does not make empty threats to scare us into good behavior His warnings are for us to heed so that we do not experience His judgments. Judgment is a final sentence that is given out with what we deserve. Discipline is what God does to direct His children in the right direction. Many times we think discipline and judgement are the same thing but they are different because judgment can be an eternal decision where discipline gives the opportunity for change.
The bricks have fallen down but we will rebuild
Instead of looking at the destruction around them as warnings from God they arrogantly said whatever gets destroyed will be rebuilt and we will do a better job when we do rebuild it. They refused to turn to God because they believed themselves to be the rulers of their own destiny and in control of their own circumstances.
Have you ever looked at your circumstances as God trying to get your attention? How many times do we arrogantly plan our days with no thought about God or what He wants us to do? We should always turn to God in good times and the bad but these people were not going to turn to God because of disaster they were arrogantly telling Him that whatever is destroyed they would make it better. We do the same thing when we do not pause and seek God in the midst of what is going on around us. It may be that the things that are happening in your life are there for you to turn to God, learn to rely on Him more or simply because He is growing an area of your life to be more like Christ.
For all his anger has not turn away and his hand is stretched out still
The initial wrath of God was not met with repentance or humbleness and so God continues to raise His hand against the nation. Outstretched hand: A symbol of Gods power which is ready to act either for good or for punishment. (Exodus 15:12; Zephaniah 2:13) The bible uses the symbol of a hand for God to show the personal involvement of God it does not mean He has actual hands. The people chose not to seek God or to look for assistance from Him because spiritual insensitivity makes us oblivious not only to God but His warnings as well.
1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Are you the type of person who does not need God? Do you live your life as if God does not exist?
Isaiah 9:14-17 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day—
15 the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; 16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. 17 Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly.[a] For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
2) God’s wrath against false teachers and leaders
The prophet that teaches lies is the tail
The people were being led astray by two sets of leaders, Politicians and Religious Leaders. The Politicians and Religious leaders were more concerned with getting rich rather than what was best for the people. The leaders were more concerned with teaching what people wanted to hear rather than telling them the truth. Jesus warned us about false prophets and it is something we have to be aware of today because not every preacher is called by God but some have called themselves into ministry for their own gain.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Beware or to be aware of because Jesus says these will be people that look like good teachers. Every teaching needs to be scrutinized by the word of God. If they tested what the Apostle Paul said (Acts 17:11) then every pastor should have his message scrutinized to see if it lines up with the word of God.
“for those who guide this people have been leading them astray”
As a leader I have a responsibility to God to point people to the truth. Many false pastors will continue to raise up false teachings even to the point of denying the work of Jesus Christ. When anyone tells you that Jesus Christ is not the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) or that He is not God in the flesh (1 John 4:2) then they are a false prophet.
2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
What is being taught in churches is not always the truth. The reason we have tried to be diligent against certain teachings is because of the destruction they do to people. Health Wealth gospel teaches a false gospel by telling you that you can earn Gods favor and His blessings by your faith. Hebrews chapter eleven tells us that people who had faith did not see the things they were promised because God had something better for them. Romans 16:7 and Ephesians 5:11 says to watch out for false teachers but to also avoid them and mark them for others to know. Colossians 2:8 says that we should not follow the traditions of man and the teachings that can draw us away from Christ. We need to be aware that there are always false teachers leading the masses away from the truth and it is up to us to know the truth and test their teachings with God’s word.
Isaiah 9:18-21 For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. 20 They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, 21 Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.
3) God’s Wrath against the Nation
Surely wickedness (Wrongdoing) burns like a fire.
Two fires are burning in the nation the first is the destruction caused to themselves by wickedness. Israel and Judah were a society like ours that wanted to live however they wanted to live but they did not realize that their sinful behavior was hurting themselves and others. They were turning on each other out of their selfish gain because they had no regard for anyone else but only their own satisfaction. When God tells us not to do something it is for our good and it is not to rob us of some pleasure we think we deserve.
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 destruction of their nation was because of the sins they were committing. Sin has consequences and not just for those who are committing them but also for everyone who is associated with them. Isaiah calls the people briers and thorn plants that would quickly be burned up in a fire. (Isaiah 5:6, 7:23-25) If you remember the people were proudly displaying their sins for all to see even being accused by Isaiah of having parades to sin in public. (Isaiah 5:18)
They eat but are not satisfied
Sin never satisfies us because it is it the exact opposite of what God has given to us to enjoy. If you pay attention you will see that our nation will start asking for more and more sins to be normalized and the reason for that is because the more they give into sins the more they will see that those sins will not give them what they are longing for.
Jesus visited a well where He meets a woman who had five husbands and the one she was with was not her husband. She was trying to find fulfillment with the things of this world and she thought the next relationship was the one that would bring her fulfillment. Jesus then tells her the only place she can find the fulfillment she is looking for is in God.
John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Only a relationship with Christ can give you what you are longing for because we were created to be in a loving relationship with God. All the things of this world that you try and get to bring fulfillment will leave you looking for more. This is why the biggest house, the nicest car the new wife, the better job never leave you satisfied. They cannot give you what you need because only God can with a relationship with Him.
By the wrath of the Lord the land will be scorched
The second fire is the wrath of God against the sins they are committing and refuse to repent of. Part of God’s wrath is simply allowing people to live with the consequences of their own decisions and rebelliousness. The destruction that happens in their own lives by their own doing is one way God pours our His wrath before He pours out His wrath for all eternity. (Romans 1:18-32)
You do not have to experience God’s wrath at all because of Jesus Christ.
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
God is patient with people and He wants them all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) but He will also allow you to live with the decisions you make that harm yourself and unfortunately others. Christ died for our sake because we could not meet the requirements of God through works (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
If any of our own works could make us right with God then Jesus died for nothing. The grace of God is a very difficult concept for people to accept because even if they believe Jesus died for them they believe they still have to do something in order to earn Gods favor. The only way you can be in a right relationship with God is through His grace that was given through Jesus Christ. Grace is not grace if you have to do anything to earn Gods favor. Have you accepted the free gift of salvation through Christ Alone? If not then I would encourage you to ask God to call out to God to be saved from His wrath that is coming upon you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”