Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah which was the vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first four chapters of this Old Testament prophetic book. “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isaiah 1:1). THE VISION! THE VISION OF ISAIAH! THE VISION OF ISAIAH THE SON OF AMOZ! THE VISION OF ISAIAH THE SON OF AMOZ, WHICH HE SAW! THE VISION OF ISAIAH THE SON OF AMOZ, WHICH HE SAW CONCERNING JUDAH AND JERUSALEM! THE PROPHETIC LANGUAGE OF SCRIPTURE BEGINS WITH TWO WORDS: THE VISION! THE PROPHETIC LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE OF SCRIPTURE BEGINS WITH VISION! THE PROPHETIC LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE OF SCRIPTURE BEGINS WITH THE ABILITY TO SEE—TO SEE NOT ONLY WHAT THE LORD IS DOING, BUT ALSO WHAT THE LORD IS SEEING! THE VISION WHICH ISAIAH SAW WAS NOT ONLY WHAT THE LORD WAS SPEAKING, BUT ALSO WHAT THE LORD WAS DOING! THE FIRST VERSE OPENS WITH THE WORDS “THE VISION,” WHILE THE SECOND VERSE BEGINS WITH THE WORDS “HEAR” AND “GIVE EAR.” When you come to the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will find that it begins and opens up with a declaration of the one who was speaking and the one who wrote the words which were found and contained within the book. The Old Testament book of Isaiah begins and opens with the words “the vision,” and it also continues to describe who saw the vision, and what the vision pertained to. In order to understand the prophetic book of Isaiah it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand that the entire course of the book was a vision which this ancient Hebrew prophet saw—and not only a vision which the prophet saw, but also a vision which he saw concerning something very specific. What’s more, is that this vision was seen at and during a very specific time—namely, during the days of the reign of Uzziah king of Judah, Jotham king of Judah, Ahaz king of Judah, and Hezekiah kings of Judah. The words which we find in the opening verse of the Scripture wonderfully and powerfully points out and alludes to the fact that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw a very specific vision which pertained to Jerusalem and Judah. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that the vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw pertained a very specific period of time—the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah reigned as kings of Judah from Jerusalem—and a very specific place, which was Jerusalem and Judah. The vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw was one that was very specific, and one that was given unto him by the living and eternal God of heaven and earth.
As I read the words which are written and recorded in this Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, I can’t help but see within the first verse the words “the vision,” and within the second verse the words “hear,” and “give ear.” This is actually something quite interesting and unique when you take the time to think about and consider it, for when we see the words “the vision” we think about something that is seen with the natural eyes, or even something that is seen with the spirit that is within a man. The opening verse of the first chapter of this prophetic book begins with the words “the vision,” and continues by describing it as something which the prophet saw concerning something very specific, and during a very specific time. It’s quite intriguing to think about and consider the fact that the opening verse of this prophetic book begins and opens with a declaration of the vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw, and when the vision begins in the second verse, it does so with a powerful invitation for the heavens to hear, and for the earth to give ear. As if this weren’t enough, you will find that the second verse contains a powerful invitation to the heavens to hear, and to the earth to give ear, for the LORD hath spoken. Stop for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that the LORD has spoken—for it is nothing small, nor is it anything light to declare that the LORD has spoken. In all reality, I would dare say that these words are such which are used quite frequently, and are words which are used causally, and perhaps even without much thought or consideration. There have been countless times when we have used the words “the LORD has spoken,” and in all reality, the LORD has not spoken. It was this reality of declaring the LORD has spoken when in all reality He really hasn’t which is found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah. It is in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and in the twenty-third chapter of this book we find the prophet speaking concerning the false prophets during his day, and how they spoke when they were not sent, and how they spoke without receiving a word from the LORD. What’s more, is that if and as you read the words which are found in the opening verse of the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author writing and speaking about the LORD speaking in former times through the mouth of His servants the prophets. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which are found in both of these passages of Scripture beginning with the words written and recorded in the first chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
“Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: For I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the LORD. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will end them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, an d heard it? Behold, a whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the heart of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till He have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way , and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God far off? Can any hide himself in secrete places that I shall not see him? Saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that they prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart o the prophets that prophesy lies? Yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have or gotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? Saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:9-32).
“And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? Thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house. Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? And, What hath the LORD spoken? And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every mans’ word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God. Thus shalt thous ay to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? And, What hath the LORD spoken? But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; Therefore, behold I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten” (Jeremiah 23:33-40).
THEY SPEAK A VISION OF THEIR OWN HEART! NOT OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE LORD! IF THEY HAD STOOD IN MY COUNSEL, AND HAD CAUSED MY PEOPLE TO HEAR MY WORDS! THEY ARE PROPHETS OF THE DECEIT OF THEIR OWN HEART! It’s truly something unique to consider the words which are found in the opening verse of the first chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah, for what we find in this prophetic book is a powerful declaration of the vision which the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. This is incredibly important—particularly and especially when considering it in light of the words found in the twenty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah—for whereas there were prophets during those days which prophesied of their own heart, there were those select prophets which prophesied not of their own hearts, but according to the word of the LORD which He showed and revealed unto them. We dare not and must not miss this truly wonderful and astonishing reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the truly awesome concept that the vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw was not a vision of his own heart, but was a vision that was given unto him straight from the LORD. The vision which Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz saw was a vision from the LORD, and was directed towards Judah and Jerusalem. This is something which must truly be considered, for when the LORD speaks, He never speaks without a purpose. We like to talk about the LORD speaking, and yet most of the time we fail to truly understand the reason and purpose behind the LORD actually speaking. When the opening verse of the prophetic book of Isaiah begins, it does so with a declaration of a vision which the prophet Isaiah saw during a very specific time and for a very specific purpose. Essentially the vision which the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz saw was “for such a time as this,” and a vision which was for an appointed time. With that being said it’s important for us to think about and consider the fact that there are those visions and that which the LORD speaks which is for a specific and appointed time yet to come, and there are visions and that which the LORD speaks which for the immediate time frame and generation in which we were living. What makes the vision which Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz saw is that it was one continuous vision which began during the reign of Uzziah the king of Judah, and it would continue throughout the reigns of the next three kings and reigns in Jerusalem. The prophetic vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw must be understood as one continuous vision which had continuity and flow that spanned the reigns of four kings which would sit upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem.
Pause for a moment and think about the fact that what we find within the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah is not a series of visions which the prophet would see, but rather it was one continuous vision that would be seen during the reigns of four kings which would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem. Two of those kings would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, while two of those kings would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. The prophet Isaiah was one who saw when righteousness was found within and upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem, and the prophet saw when wickedness and evil was found within and upon the throne of David. How absolutely intriguing it is to think about the fact that the words which are found within this prophetic book were words which spoke directly to the day(s), directly unto the generation and time in which the prophet was living. The prophet lived during some incredibly volatile and unstable times, and the LORD would speak directly unto him concerning those times. It’s worth pointing out that the prophetic book of Isaiah begins with the words “the vision,” and then immediately transitions to an invitation to hear—and not only an invitation to hear, but for the heavens to hear, and for the earth to give ear. Essentially the words which the prophet Isaiah wrote and spoke during the days of these kings were words which he called both heaven and earth to witness and behold. What’s more, is that we might very well say that the prophet was calling heaven and earth as witnesses, and inviting them to hear and give ear to the words which he was going to speak concerning Judah and Jerusalem. If the prophet Isaiah was going to speak in a court of law within and during our generation, both heaven and earth would be witnesses which would be called to the stand to bear witness of what they heard. Not only would earth and heaven be called forth as witnesses of what they heard, but also what they beheld and witnessed. It is this reality of calling heaven and earth as witnesses to hear that which was spoken, and to behold that which was done and performed within and upon the earth that was found and seen in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. If you turn and direct your attention—both to the fourth chapter, as well as the thirtieth chapter, you will find Moses calling heaven and earth as witnesses to that which he was speaking unto them. There are at least two specific occasions and times when Moses the servant of called heaven and earth to witness before and against the children of Israel, and it is wise to consider both of these passages in direct relation to that which the prophet Isaiah spoke in this first and opening chapter of the prophetic book bearing his name:
“Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which He made with you, and make you a. Graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. Fo the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke Him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor small. But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart, and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great ting is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside Him. Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee: and upon earth He shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in His sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for ever” (Deuteronomy 4:23-40).
OUT OF HEAVEN HE MADE THEE TO HEAR HIS VOICE, THAT HE MIGHT INSTRUCT THEE! UPON EARTH HE SHEWED THEE HIS GREAT FIRE! THOU HEARDEST HIS WORDS OUT OF THE MIDST OF THE FIRE!
“If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very night unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: thou thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land, which the LORD saw are unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:10-20).
The words which we find within both of these Old Testament passages of Scripture are actually quite astonishing and quite remarkable when you take the time to consider them, for when giving the Law unto the children of Israel we find Moses calling heaven and earth as witnesses—witnesses not only to the words which he had spoken unto them, and not only witnesses to their response to the words which He had spoken on that day, but also witnesses to their response in the coming generations. I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that when Isaiah the prophet called heaven to hear and the earth to give ear, he was looking back to the days of Moses when Moses gave the children of Israel the words of the law the LORD had given unto him atop the mountain in the wilderness, and upon the two tables of stone which he had hewn out of the mountain. When Isaiah called heaven to hear, and the earth to give ear, he was calling them as witnesses to what was spoken during the days of Moses the servant of the LORD, as well as witnesses unto the words which he would speak unto the children of Israel during the days of these four kings. What makes this even more intriguing when you take the time to consider it is when you consider in the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find Moses speaking unto the children of Israel how it was out of heaven the LORD caused the people to hear His voice, and it was upon the earth He showed them His great fire. Moreover, it was out of heaven the LORD would instruct the people of Israel, and it would be upon the he earth He would show them His great power through His works, through His signs and wonders. It’s important for us to realize, recognize and consider this, for failing to do so is failure to understand the significance of Isaiah calling for the heavens to hear, and the earth to give its ear. By calling heaven to hear and calling the earth to give ear—not only was he calling them as witnesses before the Judge of heaven and earth, but he was also calling them to remember and recount the words which the prophet Moses had spoken unto the children of Israel generations earlier. Essentially, that which we find in the prophets is a direct confrontation of the children of Israel in direct response to the words which were given and found in the law of Moses. Consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah beginning with the second verse of the first chapter, and you will quickly encounter the words he spoke as being a powerful Indictment to that generation for their treatment of the law of the LORD as spoken unto and given to Moses:
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: For the LORD hath spoken. I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and petrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except the LORd of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:2-9).
This concept of an ox knowing his owner and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel not knowing, nor the people of God considering can actually be compared to and considered in light of the words which are found within the first chapter of the prophetic book of Malachi. If you turn and direct your attention to the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Malachi, you will find the prophet prophesying unto the remnant of the children of Israel who returned from exile after the Temple and wall had been rebuilt, and after the gates of the city had been repaired. It would be unto that generation—the last generation that would hear any prophetic word, or receive any vision and word from heaven—the prophet Malachi would confront them based on their response to the LORD, their response to His sacrifices, and their response to worship before the LORD. In fact, it is the words which Malachi prophesied in the first and opening chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book bearing the name of the prophet that would be a perfect and powerful Segway into the words which are found in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah beginning with the tenth verse. With that in mind, consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Malachi beginning with the sixth verse:
“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is my fear? Saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the LORD of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that He will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: Will he regard your persons? Saith the LORD of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, What a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? Saith the LORD. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: For I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:6-14).
The words which we find written and recorded in this particular passage of Scripture are absolutely convicting and challenging, for the words which are found therein present us with the reality that the people of God had began polluting the altar of the LORD with the sacrifices they brought before and unto Him. The corruption that surrounded the altar was not only attributed to the offerings which were being brought by the children of Israel and the people of God, but also by the priests who accepted the offerings and presented them upon the altar. The priests could have and should have refused any profane offering that was unacceptable in the sight of the LORD—any offering that was blind, lame, mame, crippled, and the like. In all reality, the priests were the last line of defense between the offering which the people brought unto the LORD and the altar of the LORD, and it was up to the priests of the LORD to discern that which was acceptable to present upon the altar. What we must realize is that both priest and people alike were profane and corrupt, for the people were corrupt in bringing their polluted offerings, and the priests were corrupt in offering those polluted offerings before and unto the LORD upon the altar thinking and believing that He would somehow accept it. The truth of the matter, however, is that the LORD did not, would not and could not accept those offerings, and even called for one who would shut the doors of the Temple, and even put out the fire on the altar. This is quite an indictment against both priest and people alike, for the people should have known that which was acceptable in the sight of the living and eternal God, and the priests should have known better and been able to discern what type of sacrifice would be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the LORD. What makes this truly astonishing and captivating is when you think about the fact that in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will find similar language being spoken and prophesied by the prophet Isaiah concerning the people of God and their offerings, their feasts, their assembles, and their gathering together before and unto the LORD. The prophet Isaiah would directly confront the people of Israel and their worship of the LORD, for they worshipped before the LORD with defiled, polluted and unclean hands. The prophet indicted the people of God because they would dare sin and transgress before the LORD and then come and stand in His presence thinking they would be accepted. With this in mind, consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah beginning to read with and from the tenth verse, as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul written unto the Roman saints:
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; Give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assembles, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, ,I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:10-15).
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? KNOw ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14).
WASH YOU! MAKE YOU CLEAN! PUT AWAY THE EVIL OF YOUR DOINGS FROM BEFORE MINE EYES! CEASE TO DO EVIL! LEARN TO DO WELL! SEEK JUDGMENT! RELIEVE THE OPPRESSED! JUDGE THE FATHERLESS! PLEAD FOR THE WIDOW! COME NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER! THOUGH YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLET, THEY SHALL E AS WHITE AS SNOW! THOUGH THY BE RED LIKE CRIMSON, THEY SHALL BE AS WOOL! If you continue reading in the first and opening chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will find the prophet indicting and condemning the people of God for their hypocrisy in the realm of worship, for they would come and spread their hands before Him in worship, and they would make many prayers, yet the LORD declared unto them that He would not hear or listen to them, nor their prayers for their hands were full of blood. The LORD through the prophet Isaiah would indict the people of Jerusalem and Judah for their hypocrisy in worship, and their thinking and believing they could continue on in sin and also come into his presence with their hands raised as they worshipped before Him. Verses ten through fifteen are directly and intrinsically linked to the words which are found in the prophetic book of Malachi, for in Malachi’s day—the last generation to receive a prophetic voice and revelation from the living and eternal God—the people would bring polluted and defiled offerings, and the priests would continue to offer them before and unto the LORD on His holy altar. The people had been restored unto the land from which they were brought out of as captives and exiles, the Temple had been rebuilt, the altar of the LORD was once more present among them, and yet they defiled, they polluted and corrupted the altar of the LORD because of their polluted and defiled sacrifices. It is truly something worth noting that when reading the prophetic words of Isaiah the prophet here in the first chapter of this book that he would indict the children of Israel because of their hypocrisy in worship, as they would come into His presence and pretend to worship Him with defiled and polluted hands. The LORD specifically declared that their hands were full of blood, and yet they thought they could continue entering into the presence of the LORD with their worship, with their festivals, with their assemblies, and with their gatherings. The LORD through the prophet Isaiah would speak unto them and declare otherwise. The LORD would even ask ask what the purpose the multitude of their sacrifices unto Him was, and would declare unto them that He was full of the bunt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts.
If there is one thing that is incredibly powerful when reading the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Isaiah it’s that despite the fact the LORD had enough of their festivals, their new moons, their sabbaths, and their assemblies, He still offered unto them a powerful invitation. The LORD would declare unto them that their hands were full of blood, and that they engaged in hypocrisy before Him in worship, and yet even after that there would come an invitation that would be given unto the people of Jerusalem and Judah. The LORD would speak unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem in spite of their iniquity and transgression before Him, and would extend unto them an invitation to repentance, and an invitation to become clean before and in the sight of the living and eternal God. Although you read a tremendous indictment of the people of Jerusalem and Judah concerning their iniquity and transgression before the LORD you will find the LORD continuing to be gracious and merciful before and unto them. Despite the fact the people of Jerusalem and Judah were sick from the top of their head to the soles of their feet there was still hope for them. Even though the prophet Isaiah prophesied and spoke of their dire situation and circumstance before and in the sight of the living God the LORD would open His arms, open His heart, and open His tender mercies and bowels of compassion toward them. You cannot read the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah without also coming face to face with and encountering a wonderful and powerful invitation of the LORD before and unto the people to give and commit themselves unto repentance. As you begin reading the words which are found in the sixteenth verse you will find the living and eternal God extending a wonderful and powerful invitation before and unto the children of Israel—one that would offer them cleansing, one that would offer them forgiveness, one that would offer them healing, one that would offer them right standing and right relationship before and in the sight of the living God. You cannot read the words which are found in the opening chapter of the book of Isaiah beginning to read with the sixteenth verse and not come face to face with the awesome reality that the LORD was willing to open His arms wide to the people whom He had redeemed and ransomed out of the land of Egypt and brought into the land which He promised on oath unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob. Consider if you will the tremendous invitation that was given unto the children of Israel through the prophet Isaiah beginning to read with and from the sixteenth verse of this Old Testament book:
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall e as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:16-20).
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are written and recorded within this passage of Scripture, for the words contained therein are words which offer healing, words which offer soundness of mind, words which offer health to the body, and words which offer forgiveness and cleansing before and in the sight of the living God. In all reality, that which the living God offered unto the children of Israel during this time was healing, was cleansing, and forgiveness before and in His sight. The LORD would indeed declare that the whole head was sick, and the whole heart faint, as well as the fact that from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it. Instead of this there were only wounds, and bruises, and petrifying sores which have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. The prophet Isaiah presented a very bleak and dire condition of the people of Jerusalem and Judah, and yet despite the fact that he presented such a grim picture of their condition in the sight and presence of the LORD he would offer and extend unto them an offer of healing and forgiveness before the LORD within His presence and His sight. The LORD through His servant the prophet Isaiah would invite the children of Israel to cleanse their hands, and to make themselves clean in the sight and presence of the living God. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for despite the fact that there was great distress in the midst of the land the LORD would still be willing to cleanse them and wash them clean. What’s more, is that the LORD even invited them to reason together, for though their sins be as scarlet, they would be as white as snow; and though their sins were red like crimson, they would be as wool. We must realize and recognize this tremendous and powerful invitation of the LORD before and unto the people of Jerusalem and Judah, for the LORD was giving them an opportunity to be whole, to be healed, to be cleansed, and to be forgiven before Him in His presence and in His sight. Even more than this, the prophet Isaiah invited them to completely alter and change how they lived their lives and conducted themselves in the midst of the earth. The prophet Isaiah invited them to put away the evil their doings from before the eyes of the LORD, invited them to cease to do evil, invited them to learn to do well, invited them to seek j judgment, invited them to relieve the oppressed, and to judge the fatherless and plead for the widow. This is absolutely critical and crucial, for their washing and making themselves clean would most certainly come with a new and transformed way of life before and in the sight of the presence of the LORD. With this in mind I can’t help but be reminded of the words which James the half-brother of Jesus wrote in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle. Consider if you will the following words found within this epistle:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubled minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the LORD, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
It is here in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle of James we find an invitation to submit oneself to God, to resist the devil, to draw near unto God, but also to cleanse the hands. What’s so incredibly powerful about this invitation is that it was given to adulterers and adulteresses who enjoyed friendship with the world, and those who were double-minded. This invitation to cleanse their hands was even written to “sinners,” for such would be those to whom this epistle would be addressed by James. This cannot be overlooked, for there is a second invitation to cleanse ones hands found in Scripture—a wonderful and powerful invitation to be completely and utterly clean in the sight and presence of the LORD. If I am being honest with you who are reading the words found in this writing, I would dare say that there is something about being washed and clean before and in the sight of the living God. There is something about being washed and made whole in the sight and presence of the LORD, and within the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, as well as in the New Testament epistle written by James we find a wonderful and powerful invitation given by and according to the Spirit of the LORD unto the people of God to be clean in the sight of the LORD. What’s more, is that this invitation as given unto those who bore the responsibility of cleansing their hands, and truly putting forth an effort to be clean before and in the sight of the living God. This is important for us to realize and recognize, for when we think and speak about being clean before and in the sight of the living God we must recognize and understand that we ourselves bear a tremendous and wonderful invitation and responsibility to be part of the cleansing, as through the prophet Isaiah, as well as through James we have an invitation to cleanse our hands. With that being said, it is through the prophet Isaiah we find a wonderful and powerful invitation to not only cleanse our hands, but also to wash and to be clean before and in the sight of the living God. It is this reality which is found—not only in the thirty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms, but also in the fifty-first chapter of the book of Psalms, as well as within the twenty-fourth chapter of the same Old Testament book. Consider if you will the following words which are found within each of these passages of Scripture beginning with the twenty-fourth chapter of the book of Psalms:
“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of His salvation. This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek thy face, O God of Jacob. Selah” (Psalm 24:1-6).
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Psalm 32:1-7).
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then I will teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O LORD, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:1-17).
We dare not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within these passages of Scripture, for what we find within them is a powerful picture—not only of being cleansed before and in the sight of the living God, but also of being forgiven and healed within His presence. The words found in these passages of Scripture are absolutely and incredibly powerful when you truly take the time to think about and consider them, for the words found in these passages of Scripture are words which speak directly to the reality and possibility of being cleansed before and in the sight of the living—to be truly healed, cleansed and forgiven in the presence of the LORD. Oh there is something to be said about being forgiven, healed and cleansed in the presence of the LORD, and we know that not only did David seek after this reality and manifestation within his own life after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, but also spoke of this reality in both the twenty-fourth and thirty-second chapters of the Old Testament book of Psalms. David clearly understood the tremendous value and importance of being cleansed in the sight and presence of the LORD, and he understood the value of having a healed heart, a cleansed heart, and a heart that was forgiven in the sight and presence of the living and eternal God. Oh how absolutely remarkable and wonderful this truly is when you take the time to think about and consider it, for one of the single greatest realities within our hearts and lives is that of experiencing true cleansing, true healing, and true forgiveness in the sight of the LORD. Through the prophet Isaiah the LORD offered and extended unto the children of Israel a wonderful and powerful invitation to cleanse themselves and to be clean before and in the sight of the living and eternal God. The LORD gave them a very specific and very powerful invitation to not only wash, but also to make themselves clean in the sight and presence of the LORD. This is important to note, for when you continue reading in the first chapter of this Old Testament prophetic book you will find the LORD speaking of the faithful city becoming a harlot, and how it was once full of judgement, but now murderers. It is with this in mind that as you finish out the first chapter of this prophetic book you will find a very specific course and set of actions taken by the LORD. In response to that which His eyes beheld in the midst of the city where He placed His holy name, and the city which He had chosen for and unto Himself. Consider if you will the following words which speak to and reveal how the first chapter ended and concluded:
“How is the faithful city become an harlot! It was full of judgment; righteousness dogged in it; but nor murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: and I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed. For they shall e ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall e as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them” (Isaiah 1:21-31).
If there is one thing I absolutely love about the words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, it’s that although the prophet spoke unto them and declared that the head and heart were sick, and that there were wounds, bruises and putrified sores, the LORD would offer unto them healing, the LORD would offer unto them cleansing, and the LORD would offer unto them forgiveness in His sight and presence. The LORD would open up and extend and invitation to wash and to cleanse themselves, and to make themselves clean before and in the sight of the presence of the LORD their God. The LORD would invite them to completely alter and transform their lives and the way they were living, and truly be the people they were called and created to be. It’s important for us to realize and recognize this, for when you come to the second chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will find the prophet issuing a very powerful and specific word concerning Jerusalem and the mountain of the LORD’s house. Although the prophet would indict the people of God for their hypocrisy in worship in the first and opening chapter, the prophet would bring forth a truly wonderful and powerful promise concerning the mountain of the LORD, and concerning that which the LORD would fulfill and accomplish concerning the mountain of the house of the LORD. The words which you find in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah are truly wonderful and truly powerful when you consider them, for the words located in this section of Scripture is a powerful promise concerning the exaltation and elevation of the mountain of the house of the LORD above all mountains of the earth. This is incredibly significant, for not only would nations of the earth come unto the mountain of the house of the LORD with their offerings and sacrifices, but the law of the LORD would also go forth from the midst of the land, and would be found in the midst of the mountain of the hill of the LORD. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:
“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:1-4).
Immediately after we find an invitation given unto the people of God to wash and cleanse themselves, and to completely alter and transform the way they lived their lives in the midst of the land, the LORD would speak unto and concerning the city of Jerusalem, and how the city of Jerusalem had become a harlot in His sight and in His presence. The people had turned and transformed the city of Jerusalem into a city of murderers, and we would even find the house of God being turned into a den of thieves and a house of robbers. The words which the prophet of the LORD not only served as an invitation to experience a wonderful and powerful transformation of the city of Jerusalem, but also the house of the LORD. The cleansing that was offered unto the people was also offered unto the city of Jerusalem itself, as well as the house of the LORD which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The words which we find in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah are words which are absolutely and truly wonderful when you consider the fact that the living God not only spoke of the elevation of the mountain of the house of the LORD, but also concerning the house of the LORD itself being a light unto all the nations of the earth. There would come a day when all the nations of the earth will seek to come unto the mountain of the house of the LORD that they might come and appear before the LORD their God in His holy sanctuary and in His holy courts. What’s more, is the Law of the LORD would go forth from the city of Jerusalem, and from the mountain of the LORD. What an absolutely wonderful and incredibly promise this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for it reveals something truly powerful concerning the restoration of the LORD. Although the city had become a harlot in the midst of the earth and before the LORD of heaven and earth, the LORD would bring cleansing and healing into the midst of it, and the LORD would exalt and elevate it in the midst of the earth. The LORD would cause His sanctuary and His temple to once more be a beacon of light in the midst of the earth, and the Law of the LORD would go forth from the city of Jerusalem as it was always intended on going forth. Oh how truly wonderful and powerful it is to think about the fact that the LORD is going to exalt His holy mountain and His sanctuary and house in the midst of the earth, and that not only will the nations and peoples of the earth come before Him in the midst of Jerusalem to worship Him with their gifts and their offerings, but they would also come to hear the Law of the LORD. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome and spectacular reality, for to do so would be to miss out on that which the LORD truly sought to do in the midst of the people of Judah and Jerusalem in the earth. The LORD would once more exalt and elevate His holy sanctuary, and His holy house in the midst of the earth, and once more would true worship take place in the earth, and the Law would go forth among the people.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative to highlight and underscore this truly awesome and wonderful reality of healing, of cleansing, and of forgiveness, for in everything that is found within these opening chapters of the prophetic book of Isaiah I feel these are the greatest treasures and promises contained therein. Not only did the LORD give them an invitation to wash and make themselves clean, but the LORD also gave them an invitation to come and reason together with Him. Furthermore, the LORD would declare unto them that though their sins were as scarlet, they would be as white as snow, and though their sins were red like crimson, they would be as wool. We dare not and must not miss this, for if there is one thing we must take from this passage of Scripture in the opening chapters of the prophetic book of Isaiah it’s the wonderful and powerful invitation to enter into and experience transformation through healing, through cleansing, and through forgiveness. David understood and recognized the blessedness of this healing, this cleansing and this forgiveness before and in the sight of the living God when writing the thirty-second chapter of the book of Psalms, and he even asked the LORD to create within Him a clean heart, to renew a right spirit within him, to restore unto him the joy of his salvation, and to take not His Holy Spirit from Him. Oh that we would truly understand and recognize the tremendous invitations we have been given, and are being given to truly be clean, to truly be healed, and to truly be forgiven in the sight and presence of the living God. The underlying question we must ask ourselves is what we are willing to do in order that we might truly experience this healing, this cleansing and this forgiveness before and in the sight of the living God. Oh that we would truly be a people who experienced transformation within our hearts and lives as we are healed, as we were cleansed, and as we are forgiven in the sight of the LORD. Though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Oh that we would truly allow ourselves to walk in this reality of being healed, cleansed and forgiven in the sight and presence of the living and eternal God in this life before Him in His presence and in His sight.