Isaiah 1: Bible Study Guide.
23-BSG-1A: WORSHIP GUIDE.
A Worship Guide corresponding with the today’s Bible Reading Plan: Isaiah 1/ Theme: The Wickedness of Judah/ 23-BSG-1A, (Isaiah 1:2)/ Hymn: “I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small” [Author: Elvina M. Hall (1865)]
EXPLORATION: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me;” (Isaiah 1:2, NKJV)
REFLECTION: In v. 2, God is calling heaven and earth as witnesses against Judah. In today’s legal terms, we might think of heaven and earth as a “jury” in this divine courtroom. Yahweh formally brings a legal suit against Judah for a breach of contract (breaking their covenant with Him). Why? Because the leaders and people of Judah have resisted His will, therefore, God will state His case against them and take decisive corrective actions. The creation (heavens and earth) is called to court as the perpetual witness of what happens on earth and is therefore able to affirm the truth of the divine accusations.
DEVOTIONAL IMPLICATION: “The first chapter of Isaiah is a description of a people professedly serving God, but walking in forbidden paths” (MS 29, 1911) Here is a summary of their offenses: they were rebellious (Isa. 1:2-9); they were insincere, (Isa. 1:11-12); their worship was unacceptable (Isa. 1:13-15); they were unjust (Isa. 1:16-17); and they were deceitful (Isa. 1:21-31). Today, God is calling on each one of us to examine our lives because, among other things, He is both a holy and righteous God, which means He will judge sin and not let anything goes unpunished! Why must we (and the creation) pay attention? “For the LORD Himself has spoken.” (v. 2b) Beloved, here is the One to whom all creation must obey and render account “for God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:12)
THE GOSPEL’S VOICE: This section is written as if God were speaking directly to you—Because He does. What does the Lord say to me this morning? “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18–20, NKJV)
My Desire: By God’s grace, I want to confess and repent of the sins listed in this chapter.
Have A Blessed Day: “He shall call to the heavens from above, And to the earth, that He may judge His people: “Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge. Selah” (Psalm 50:4–6, NKJV)
23-BSG-1B: PRAYER GUIDE.
A Prayer Guide corresponding with the today’s Bible Reading Plan: Isaiah 1/ Theme: Alas, sinful nation / 23-BSG-1B, (Isaiah 1:4-5)/ Key Text: “Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward. Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints.” (Isaiah 1:4–5, NKJV)/ Hymn: “I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small” [Author: Elvina M. Hall (1865)]
Opening Remarks: Israel (Judah) abandoned their faith after having knowing the Truth—(Jehovah God). Here is a list of reasons why Judah was under Divine retribution. This is why Judah was suffering so many adversities — They despised their privileges and rebelled against God, (1:2); they lacked prudence (1:3); pollution of sin abounded in the land (1:4a); they parted from Jehovah (1:4b); they provoked (angered) the Lord (1:4c); they chose the path of evil (1:4d); and they were persistent in evil (1:5).
Rebellion is the first of five significant terms for sin used in this chapter (Isaiah 1:2, 4, 13). God had shown these people a special favors. He recounted His mercy in bringing them out of Egypt; and on the ground of this, He demanded obedience and love (Exodus 20:1-3). What did He get in return? Rebellion! Israel had forgotten God, abandoned Him and rebelled against Him.
For Self-Examination: As we come to the today’s Prayer Session, let’s ask ourselves these question: Have we become a sinful Nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters? Have we forsaken the LORD? Have we provoked Him to anger? Have we turned away backward?
Values To Build On: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16–17, NKJV)
Sins To Avoid/ Confess: Rebellion against God, His way or His Word; rejecting Him; Failure or refusal to respond to God’s love, leading; Apostasy (forsaking God, abandoning allegiance to God after having known and walked with Him); Hypocrisy; Trusting in resources (one’s own) instead of God; Murder; Fraud; Bribery; Failure or refusal to provide, practice justice
Something To Thank God For: God as Redeemer, the Lord, His remedy for sin; Exhortation, Invitation → Repent (change direction, turn to God); Forgiveness of sins; Prayer (Access to God); God’s Promises to all → Purification; Repentance (leading to restoration).
People To Pray For: Pray for all believers to repent, lets our worship become abominable to the Lord (see Isa. 1:11-15).
Issues To Pray For: Avoidance of sin; Spiritual blindness; Corruption/ bribery; Commitment to God; Faithfulness to God; Forgetting God; Hatred; Hindrances to acceptable worship; Ingratitude; Prostitution; Reinstatement; Righteousness of believers; Self-deception; Stealing; Revival & Reformation.
Today’s Promise: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NKJV)
Action Step: Take a moment to Examine Yourself: Do you see any Specific Sins listed here in your life? If Yes; Confess and Repent right away. Remember – “Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned, and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God.” (The Faith I Live By, p. 211). Take a time to pray for yourself and someone you know is struggling with these sins. If you have a Prayer Request(s), kindly write it below and someone will pray for it. God Bless You!
23-BSG-1C: CHAPTER OVERVIEW.
Characters: God, Isaiah/ Key Word: Sinsick, (Isaiah 1:5)/ Striking Verses: Isaiah 1:1, 2, 3, 4-5, 6, 7, 10-15, 16-17, 18, 19-20, 21, 23, 24-26, 27-28.
Key Phrase Study: Ah sinful nation; Seed of evildoers; Forsaking the Lord; Provoking the Lord; The Holy One of Israel.
Issues At A Glance: The First Indictment (Isa. 1:2-5); The Second Indictment (Isa 1:11-15); God’s Mercy/ Restoration Plan (Isa 1: 16-20); The Third Indictment (Isa. 1:21-23); God’s Verdict and Sentence (Isa. 1:24-31)
Issues For Further Study: Apostasy in OT; Atonement in OT; Blood and OT sacrifices; Divide Justice; Exhortation/ Invitation; God’s Names, Titles, Descriptions, Status; Judah (Pre-exilic and Exilic); Nature of discipleship; Nature of oppression; Nature of repentance; Nature of sin; Patience of God; Power of God; Practicalities of prayer; Prayer and God’s will; Prayer, advice for effective prayer; Prayerfulness/ Prayerlessness.
23-BSG-1D: CHAPTER INTRODUCTION.
In setting the scene for his ministry, Isaiah starts with what must have been obvious—even if the people will not accept his diagnosis, they cannot quarrel with his facts! Nationally (2–9), foreign invasions (7–8) have left a trail of desolation so that the ‘body politic’ (5c–6) is like the victim of a savage mugging. Religiously (10–20), there has been punctilious devotion—sacrifices in abundance (11), temple attendance (12), monthly and weekly observances (13–14), prayers (15)—but it has not got through to God and has done nothing to rectify the national plight. And socially (21–26), the city life is degenerate and dangerous (21), its leaders corrupt and self seeking (23a–d) and its needy uncared for (23ef).
Isaiah sets this three-part analysis of the contemporary scene as if in a court of law. In verse 2ab the witnesses are called, in verses 2c–23 the charges are laid and in verses 24–30 sentence is pronounced. Behind the observable facts Isaiah discerns the hidden causes: rebellion against the Lord (2d) as the root of national calamity (5); personal guilt vitiating religious practice (15); social degeneration through abandonment of revealed norms of justice and righteousness (21). All this gives colour to a comparison with Sodom (9–10) and builds a case for divine punitive action (5, 20, 24, 28, 29–31), but, typically of Isaiah, there is also a surprise: hope is affirmed. The Lord has not left his people (9); when he acts it will also be to purge and restore (25–26), and the very justice and righteousness they abandoned (21) will be affirmed in a divine work of redemption (27)” [J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 20:49].
23-BSG-1J: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
SEEING WHAT’S THERE.  Who was Isaiah? A Hebrew prophet who was believed to have lived about 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Born in Jerusalem, he was said to have found his calling as a prophet when he saw a vision in the year of King Uzziah’s death. Isaiah prophesized the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ.
“Isaiah, the son of Amoz, ministered in and around Jerusalem as a prophet to Judah during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah (called “Azariah” in 2 Kin.), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1), from ca. 739–686 B.C. Isaiah evidently came from a family of some rank, because he had easy access to the king (7:3) and intimacy with a priest (8:2). He was married and had two sons who bore symbolic names: “Shear-jashub” (“a remnant shall return,” 7:3) and “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (“hasting to the spoil, hurrying to the prey,” 8:3). When called by God to prophesy, in the year of King Uzziah’s death (ca. 739 B.C.), he responded with a cheerful readiness, though he knew from the beginning that his ministry would be one of fruitless warning and exhortation (6:9–13). Having been reared in Jerusalem, he was an appropriate choice as a political and religious counselor to the nation.”
“Isaiah was a contemporary of Hosea and Micah. His writing style has no rival in its versatility of expression, brilliance of imagery, and richness of vocabulary.” [John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Handbook, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 183].
 Were prophets the only people in the Bible to have visions? (1:1) “Numbers 12:6 identifies a prophet as someone to whom God reveals himself in visions and dreams. Yet many individuals in the Bible who were not designated a prophet received a vision, including Isaac (Ge 26:24), Jacob (Ge 46:2), Zechariah (Lk 1:11–22), Stephen (Ac 7:55–56), Peter (Ac 10:9–17) and Paul (Ac 16:9; 18:9–10). Thus, visions were not limited to prophets but happened during unique and critical times in redemptive history.” (NIV Quest Study Bible).
 In whose reign did he prophesy? In the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah
 Why do we call Isaiah a “major,” rather than a “minor,” prophet? (1:1) “The terms major and minor generally refer to the length of the prophet’s book, not to his individual importance. Each of the Biblical prophets served the Lord with distinction, but some of them wrote more than others.” (NIV Quest Study Bible).
 Is any part of his book historical? Yes, chapters 1–39 are chiefly so, although interspersed with songs, poems and prophecies; and much historical matter is given in symbolic language.
 What great and glorious person was he privileged to announce? The Messiah; especially in Isa. 7:14; 9:1–7; 11:1–10; 53.
 What prophecy of Isaiah’s is quoted in Matt. 1:23? “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, NKJV)
CAPTURE THE ESSENCE:  What is the main content of this chapter? The LORD’s Indictment of His People (Isa. 1:1–31); Charge against Judah for their rebellion, ingratitude and degeneration; Call for genuine repentance and reformation.
 What does the chapter say about God?
 Of what nation and city did Isaiah’s prophecy concern? (1) Judah and Jerusalem
 Who were the kings that reigned when Isaiah prophesied? (1) Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
 Who did Judah provoke to anger? (4) The Holy One of Israel.
 To what did Isaiah liken Judah? (5-6) Open wounds and bruises and putrefying sores.
 In what didn’t God delight? (11) The multitude of their sacrifices without genuine repentance.
 What else is said of their worship conduct? (12-13) they trampled Yahweh’s temple (courts) by their sinful feet; they brought worthless offerings, and incense – which was repulsive to Yahweh.
 What did God say He could not endure? (13) Their wickedness (sin, injustice, wrongdoing) and the squalor of the festive assembly (New Moon festivals and their appointed feasts).
 What warning is given in v. 15 to every believer in every generation? God will not entertain prayer of evil doers (hypocrites). “And when you spread forth your hands [in prayer, imploring help], I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood!” (Isaiah 1:15, AMP)
 What did God want Judah to do? (16-17) Necessary Reforms (Action Steps) — “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes! Cease to do evil, Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16–17, AMP)
 What could God do for their sins? (18) Forgiveness, Purification (cleansing) and Restoration.
 What would result if Judah was willing and obedient? (19) Blessings: Eat the best of the land.
 Who could not judge the fatherless and widows? (23) Rulers are Rebels.
23-BSG-1K: DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.
TO THINK ABOUT AND DISCUSS:  What are the most powerful images presented by Isaiah in this chapter?
 What specific sins and failures are pointed out in this chapter?
 What specific commands does God give?
 What exhortation/ invitation does God extend to His people?
 What specific warnings does He give?
FOR FURTHER STUDY:  Consider Yahweh’s question in v. 5a – “Why should you be stricken and punished again? (Isaiah 1:5)? Consider the Love and Mercy of God in this text.
Despite their sin, God does not wish evil upon Judah. Instead, He longs for them to repent and make it easy on themselves. God has been chastising Judah, and they have not responded. “The body is so covered with lacerations and bruises that the father hesitates to administer further punishment, though it is needed, and in mercy prefers not to strike the son where the wounds of previous beatings have not healed.”
“By their sins the professed people of God had brought woe upon themselves. The deeper they went into sin, the greater the weight of woe they took upon themselves (see ch. 5:18). Isaiah endeavored to reason with them, asking why they chose to pursue so foolish a course of action. The picture is of a persistently rebellious son who has suffered beating after beating for his misdeeds until his entire body is lacerated.” (SDA BC 4:96).
FOR GOING DEEPER:  Look at the four nouns of Israel’s privileges in Isaiah 1:4: the unique nation; the redeemed people; the ‘seed’ or brood (the word used for the line of descent from Abraham in 41:8); and sons (or children the Lord). Now compare 1 Peter 2:9 — “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, AMP) How do you feel knowing that Jehovah God has granted you all these privileges? How does this help you to rethink (your actions/ conduct) before you provoke the Lord your God with your sins?
 Look at the four descriptions of the lost ideal: sinful, from the participle ‘going on sinning’, or missing God’s target; loaded with (possibly ‘heavy with’, hinting that the Lord who carried them felt the burden; cf. 46:3–4; Exod. 19:4) guilt, i.e. ‘iniquity’ (‘āwôn), meaning sin as corruption of character and nature; of evildoers, i.e. the chosen seed has become those who commit evil; and, lastly, given to corruption, ‘acting corruptly’, from Heb. šāḥat, to spoil, ruin. They have forsaken … spurned … turned their backs: here is the basic principle of spiritual decline, a sustained rejection of the Lord…. The height of their privilege, to know the Lord in the fullness of his holy nature, became the benchmark of the depth of their fall. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, p. 50)
FOR SELF-EXAMINATION:  Read Isaiah 1:4-5. Have we become a sinful Nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters? Have we forsaken the LORD? Have we provoked Him to anger? Have we turned away backward? If yes, what are we doing about these sins (individually/ collectively)?
 Read 1 Peter 1:6–7. Just as Judah was facing purifying judgement, so Christians undergo a refining process too. What does Peter say this involves, and what is the main aim of the whole process? Is it your desired to be ‘refined’ by God and made ready for the kingdom?
FOR LIFE TODAY:  “And when you spread forth your hands [in prayer, imploring help], I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood!” (Isaiah 1:15, AMP)
“When the Hebrews prayed they frequently stretched out their hands toward God (see Ex. 9:29, 33; 17:11; 1 Kings 8:22; Ezra 9:5; Job 11:13; Ps. 88:9; 143:6).
I will not hear. Compare Ps. 66:18; James 4:3. To be heard, prayer must be sincere. The prayers of hypocrites will not be heard (Matt. 6:5; Luke 18:14). Prayers may be long and frequent, yet be of no avail (Matt. 6:7). The prayers of evildoers whose hands are stained with blood and who persist in their evil ways will not reach the throne of grace. The Hebrews in the days of Isaiah appeared outwardly to be a very religious people who made much of prayer, but they refused to forsake their sins. Their prayers came from the lips but not from the heart. Such prayers, God made it clear, He refused to hear.” [Francis D. Nichol, Ed., The Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1977), 4:98].
PERSONAL IMPLICATIONS:  How would you summarize what this chapter tells us most about God’s purpose and plan for His people?
[A] Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, (Isaiah 1:16a).
“Sin results in moral pollution and spiritual decay. When David sinned, his prayer was, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7). He recognized the defilement of sin and asked God to give him a clean heart ( v. 10), and his prayer was heard. Every sinner is in need of moral purification; his heart must be cleansed of its moral corruption. God calls upon the sinner to wash his heart of wickedness (Jer. 4:14), to cleanse his hands of iniquity (James 4:8). He promises to write His law in the heart (Jer. 31:33) and to cleanse man from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Isaiah called for Jerusalem to put on her beautiful garments, for the time was coming when the unclean would no longer enter there (Isa. 52:1). John declared that nothing that defiles will in any wise enter into the Holy City (Rev. 21:27). The lesson Isaiah endeavored to impress upon Israel was that God, “the Holy One of Israel,” requires holiness of His people.” [SDA BC 4:98].
[B] Cease to do evil, (Isaiah 1:16b). “Get your evil deeds out of My sight. Stop doing evil,” (AMP)
“God called upon His people to cease from sin. He was holy, and they were to be holy. Evil must be put out of the life of every child of God. Sin will not exist in the pure atmosphere of heaven, and all who enter there will wear the garments of righteousness.” [SDA BC 4:98].
[C] “Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17, AMP)
[D] Come now, and let us reason together (Isaiah 1:18). “God here invites men to meet with Him for a free and frank discussion of their problems. He is not an inconsiderate judge or an arbitrary tyrant, but a kindly father and friend. Man’s interests are His interests, and man’s good is His good. All His admonitions are given for the good of man. This He desires man to understand and believe. It is hardly possible to conceive of a more appealing exhibition of the wonderful love and goodness of God than is found in this gracious invitation to “reason” with the Lord of heaven and earth. God is reasonable, and desires men to realize that it is to their advantage to forsake sin and to walk in the ways of righteousness. Man’s reasoning powers were given him to use, and he can make no better use of them than to discover the benefits of obedience and the woes of transgression. [SDA BC 4:99].
23-BSG-1Y: NIGHT DEVOTION.
A Night Though corresponding with the today’s Bible Reading Plan: Isaiah 1/ Theme: Let Us Reason Together / 23-BSG-1Y, (Isaiah 1:18)/ Key Text: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NKJV). Hymn: Would you be free from the burden of sin? [Author: Lewis E. Jones (1899)].
EXPLORATION: God wants to Reason with Us — (Isaiah 1:18; 41:21; 43:24-26; Josh 20:4; 1 Sam 12:7; Eccl. 3:11; Jer. 2:5; Mic 6:2-3; Acts 17:2; 18:4; 24:25)
REFLECTION: The Setting—A Court Room Scene. Prophet Isaiah ministered during a turbulent time in Israel’s history. The nation had abandoned the way of the Lord and was living in open sin and idolatry. In this chapter, Judah is indicted and charged with Rebellion against God (vv. 2-15). God gives Judah one more chance to get it right (v. 18). He warns them of the consequences if they fail to do so (vv. 19-20).
DEVOTIONAL IMPLICATION: Beloved, we are in the same condition before God as Judah was. But in His mercy, God invite us to come and reason with Him. Maybe you ask: How can we reason with God? We reason with God from His Bible. What does the Bible teach concerning man? All men are sinners (Rom. 3:9–12); Man is capable of committing the vilest of sin (Mark 7:20–23); Man by nature is incurable (Jer. 17:9). What we need is Jesus Christ.
What does the Bible teach concerning God? God is sovereign (Rom. 9:10, 18); He is holy (Isa. 6:1–3; Ps. 145:17); He is just (Nah. 1:3; Job 10:14); and He is love (1 John 4:8–10; Rom. 5:6, 8). Beloved, we ought to be holy, as He is holy. The good news is that He can help us to be holy—the gift of righteousness!
What does the Bible teach about salvation? Salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Salvation is based upon the shed blood of the Son of God (Heb. 9:11–12, 22; Matt. 26:28). This grace is received through faith (Eph. 2:9; Heb. 11:6; John 3:14, 15; John 1:12; Acts 16:31). This grace will transform the sinner’s life (Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:11–13). We we stumble and fall, we must look up to Jesus for cleansing: again, there nothing we do on our own to attain His salvation—“it is a gift, lets anyone should beast!”
Just as it was with the people of Judah, today God offers to a repentant, humbled sinner — true and complete cleansing from sin. Our condition of sin can be transformed from deeply stained to completely white. Remember something: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” (Acts 17:30, NKJV) Will you repent today and be cleansed?
Have A Good Night: “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:19–20, AMP)
23-BSG-1Z: CLOSING PRAYER.
Is there a prayer for me to pray/echo in this chapter-(Isaiah 1)? Yes.
Father, we thank You again for Your word in Isaiah chapter 1. We thank You for the fact that You forgive sin, iniquity, and transgression. That if we confess, repent and forsake our sins, You stand ready, willing to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness, instantly. Father we have sinned and each one of us is guilty according to Your holy standards, that’s why we plead for Your mercy. Give us a pure (clean) heart and the abiding presence of Your Spirit. Thank You for the fact that Jesus Christ lives to intercede for us! May we come now to Him before it is too late! Father, I confess that this Book is hard and we need Your Spirit to reveal what You would have us learn in each chapter; but above all, may we see our sinfulness (our unworthiness) in each chapter, and respond to the promptings of Your Spirit on what we ought to be doing to get it right with You. Bless each reader/ listener to be willingly obey Your voice and respond to the free offer of Salvation. Come dear Lord Jesus into our lives! We thank You Lord, and ask these things, believing and trusting, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.