Isaiah (1): Judgement (Causes and God’s heart)

I just wanted to spend a few posts sharing some of my course writings for FFM, they’re from the Old Testament module, and this term we’re looking at the prophets and history books.

What are the causes of God’s judgement in Isaiah and what does this reveal about God’s heart?

I have divided the causes for judgement into four main sections, and will discuss each one briefly and then talk about what these reveal regarding God’s concerns and His heart. I have also tried to end each section with a moment where God speaks or acts redemptively in this area.

Treatment of the weak – the weak included the fatherless (orphan), the widow, the oppressed and the poor. They were the people who couldn’t fend for themselves and were often left to suffer. However the judgement exercised was not just for a complacent attitude towards the poor, but also for mistreating them and not providing them justice in courts and matters of law, simply because they were weak. This area of judgement reveals God’s heart for the weak, throughout Scripture God delights in using the weak and marginalized to accomplish His purposes (See Jesus’ genealogy) and even to demonstrate His Glory through (See 2 Cor 12). The fact that God’s people were not only mistreating the poor by neglecting them, but actually working against them would have roused God’s anger. God refuses to neglect the weak Himself and promises to give strength to the weak and to increase the power of the weak (Isaiah 40.29 and 3.4)

Idolatry – One could argue that idolatry is a route cause of all sins, especially the idolatry of self (AKA: Pride), in the book of Isaiah it is no exception. Some of the expressions of idolatry given in Isaiah are: prostitution, divination, actual material idols (gold, statues), pride and reliance upon human strength (whether that’s Egypt, ‘mere humans’, multitude of chariots or even a horse (31.1)). This tells us about God’s concern for His glory, not only is Idolatry against the 10 commandments, but it also demonstrates a reluctance to trust God. By trusting in human strength, for example – Egypt – to save them from their enemies, God’s people were admitting to other nations that they didn’t believe their God was capable to save them. I was personally struck by the challenge against those who rise early to pursue alcohol (5.11), it made me question what do I rise early to do. This is a helpful way to identify my idols – as a morning person – ‘what do I wake to do?’ The relief to this idolatry is found in the stories about Hezekiah who turns to God in the moments of disaster (37.14-21, 38.2)

Evil deeds – In many ways the last two sections have also been ‘evil deeds’. However Isaiah specifies that there are activities that individuals have been performing which displease God. Interestingly, a lot of the judgement mentioned in Isaiah is directed towards large groups and what they have done. However there is sin which individuals are also found guilty of, for example murder, prostitution (even flirtatious clothing and dancing) and unclean lips (speaking badly or falsely). This tells us of God’s concern that His people are holy as He is holy. They represent Him. This is why God acts to blot out their transgressions – “For my own sake” (43.25), and acts to clean Isaiah’s lips with coal.

Finally Poor Leadership ­– In brief, Isaiah talks specifically about the judgement upon leaders who lead “badly”. By encouraging disobedience, neglecting poor and the important things God cares about. This shows us God is concerned that human leaders represent Him as the Divine Leader.

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