|Volume 22 Number 6 June 2020||
Isaiah was a prophet of God who preached in the 8th century B.C. He has been called the most majestic of the prophets as he wrote in eloquent and captivating language to his audience. He preached in Jerusalem during the reign of several kings (Isaiah 1:1). While Isaiah’s preaching differed from preaching today, because his message was inspired by God, there are still many similarities. Likewise, we must base our preaching upon the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 4:11). There truly is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Isaiah was a powerful preacher in his own era, and his messages still have application today. As we read through the Book of Isaiah, notice some of the major themes in his preaching and some of the things he would say if he were still preaching today. There is a sense in which as we read this book, apply it to our lives and share it with others that although he is dead, he is still speaking (Hebrews 11:4).
God Doesn’t Accept All Worship
Sometimes people have the mistaken idea that God will accept whatever they offer to him as worship regardless of how it is presented. Isaiah would tell people today just as he told them in ancient Israel that this is not true. Isaiah rebuked people for offering up worship to God while mistreating people who are made in His image (Isaiah 1:11-15). God would not continue to accept their worship while they did not live in line with the Law in other aspects of their lives. They provoked the Lord’s anger as they lived sinful lives and thought as long as they checked the box for worship that all would be well (Isaiah 1:2-9). People need to learn this lesson today. Just because we offer worship to God does not mean that He will accept it if our hearts are not right. We must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If we offer in worship what He asked, but do not live like we should, our worship will be rejected. If we treat people properly but worship according to our own will and wishes, then our worship will be rejected (Isaiah 29:13). If Isaiah were preaching today, he would say worship is not something to take lightly, and God does not accept all worship (Amos 5:21-27).
God Is a Forgiving God
Though God’s people were idolatrous and wicked, Isaiah held out hope. If they would repent, God would forgive their sins, making them as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). God pleaded with them through Isaiah’s preaching to be clean and to cease doing evil (Isaiah 1:16). He wanted them to treat the oppressed properly and to live up to their full spiritual potential (Isaiah 1:17). If they were willing to turn and to do the right thing, they would prosper. Yet, if they rebelled, they would suffer the consequences (Isaiah 1:19-20). God is known for His wrath in the Old Testament, but not enough Bible students realize the grace contained within the Old Testament as well (Exodus 34:6-7). The same God who forgives sins and extends pardon in the New Testament was offering abundant forgiveness in the Old Testament (Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). Isaiah showed a portrait of a God who does not desire to crush His people but instead to console them as they turn from error (Isaiah 40:1-2).
Today, Isaiah would no doubt warn people about sin and its consequences while reminding them that forgiveness is attainable (Acts 2:37-38). God does not want anyone to lose his soul. That is why He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for the world (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). God desires to be known as the Redeemer and as the One who gives second chances to people who desire to learn from their mistakes (Isaiah 43:1). So many people give up too soon. Maybe they think they have done too many bad things or run too far from the Father’s house to return, but such is not true. The blood-stained hands of Israel could be made white as snow if they repented (Psalm 51:7). The blood-stained hands of those who killed Jesus and opposed the church could be cleansed as they responded to the Gospel (Acts 22:16). Today, for those who seek the Lord, the same forgiveness is offered in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:38-39).
God Is Holy and Idolatry Is Foolish
One of the most famous passages in the Book of Isaiah is the vision the prophet had in Chapter Six. Isaiah saw the Lord who he described as high and lifted up and the one Who is sitting on the throne (Isaiah 6:1). Isaiah also saw the seraphim who cry out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3; cf., Revelation 4:8). More than twenty times throughout the book, Isaiah referred to God as the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 1:4; 5:19; 5:24; 30:12; 30:15; 41:14; 43:3). Isaiah would remind the people of God today that the Lord is the Holy One, and we should, in turn, be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).
The sin that plagued Israel most often was idolatry. Isaiah preached sternly against the folly of Israel’s idolatry. Readers of his message are often tempted to chuckle as Isaiah mocked the idolatrous practices of his contemporaries (Isaiah 44:9-20). He reminded Israel then that there is only one God and there is no other God besides Him (Isaiah 45:6, 18, 22). Idolatry still exists today, and we need to be reminded that there is only One Who is worthy of our worship and devotion (Colossians 3:5). Isaiah would encourage Christians not to set their sights too low on the things of this earth but instead to lay up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). There are repeated warnings in the New Testament encouraging Christians to steer clear of idolatry (1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 1 John 5:21).
As we read Isaiah’s inspired message, we need to see that what they struggled with then is what people still struggle with today. The God who had outstretched arms to forgive then will forgive today. Furthermore, preachers and teachers of the Word of God need to be bold enough to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). Isaiah was probably not well liked by many of his fellow Israelites, but he preached the truth anyway. We need more preaching like that done by Isaiah, believing on Jesus and willing to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). Let us study his message and allow him to continue to speak to us today (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
Ronald D. Reeves
Good things are on our list of things to possess as our own. Rare is the individual who does not want to get good stuff, even if in a limited measure and quality. Perhaps some folks perceive a greater measure of “stature” by possessing good stuff. Well, then, what about the grace of God? Is it not what we should seek to possess? Yes, of course. Therefore, consider that the mediate Source of grace flowing from the Father’s throne is the Son of God (Romans 1:5). Our assurance that divine grace will be extended to all men (Titus 2:11-12) is evidenced both prophetically and by promise (1 Peter 1:10; Zechariah 12:10). The grace of God serves distinct and wonderful purposes, including our personal salvation (Ephesians 2:8), our justification (Romans 3:24), our receipt of the imputation of righteousness (Romans 5:15-17), our sufficiency in all things (2 Corinthians 9:8), our abounding to every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8) and our receipt of the gift of eternal life (Romans 5:20-21). Knowing that such blessings flow from the grace of God, let us endeavor to access this grace in a divinely approved manner and in accord with the expressed Word of God. Surely, the grace of God may not be accessed in any other manner. Grace is worth our obedience.