Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
Turning now to the people, Isaiah warned them to seek refuge from the coming terror of Jehovah’s wrath which will lay low the lofty looks of man.
O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD. The glorious prospect of Christ’s kingdom moves Isaiah to call the people of Judah to repentance immediately. Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.
Addressing God directly, Isaiah rehearsed the sins which led to the nation’s calamity. Instead of looking to the Lord, the people consulted diviners from the East and became soothsayers like the Philistines. They made forbidden alliances with the heathen. In disobedience to the Law of God, they heaped up financial treasures and horses and chariots, trusting in those for security. They worshiped idols which they themselves had made. Those are the reasons God has humbled them, and does not forgive them. The expression “filled with eastern ways” aptly describes the current popularity of eastern religion in Western countries.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The King, Jesus Himself, will arbitrate international problems and settle disputes for the people. As a result, there will be universal disarmament. The funds formerly spent on munitions will be spent on agricultural equipment.
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.
Isaiah now looked beyond the current chaos to the glorious kingdom of the Messiah. In that day, Jerusalem will be established as the religious and political capital of the world. The Gentile nations will make pilgrimages to Zion for worship and divine instruction.
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 counsellors 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 be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. For ye shall be 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.
God will vent His wrath on all those who show, by their sin, that they are His enemies. The Lord’s combined name, the LORD of hosts, insures the inevitability of the judgments described. His judgments will purge all impurity and restore Jerusalem to its former glory. His righteousness will insure the deliverance of those who repent. But sinners will be destroyed, idolaters will be ashamed of their shrines, and they themselves will be like a leaf that fades and a parched garden that has no water. Leaders who rely on their own strength will be like highly flammable tinder, ignited by the spark of their own wicked works.
How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now 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.
Jerusalem is no longer a city of faithfulness, justice, and righteousness. It is now a city full of harlots and a refuge for murderers. Its best things have been corrupted and its princes are scoundrels. Everywhere, there is bribery and injustice.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be 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.
If Judah followed what Isaiah had previously told them, they would be cleansed from the worst of sins and enjoy the good things that God had provided for them. It is significant that the first chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy, whose name means “salvation is of God,” should contain the gospel invitation – he told the people that God wanted them to come to Him and reason together, so that no matter how wicked their sins, they would find forgiveness. But if the people refused and continued to rebel, then war and destruction awaited them. The salvation message is the same today – divine reasoning, accepted by faith, teaches that there is cleansing from sin, that this cleansing is totally apart from human merit or effort, and that it is only through the redemption which the Lord Jesus accomplished by the shedding of His blood on the cross.
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.
Isaiah told the people what they should do – they were to wash themselves through repentance and forsaking of evil, then practice righteousness and social justice.
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 assemblies, 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.
The rulers and people of Jerusalem, which is described as Sodom and Gomorrah, should have realized that God despised rituals without reality, sacrifices without obedience, and gifts without the givers. As long as the people were living in sin, their attendance at the Temple services was an insulting trampling of His courts. The mixing of iniquity and solemn assembly were hateful to Him. Because of their attitude toward Him and their offerings, God would pay no attention to their outstretched hands or prayers, as He knew that their external “religion” was only a cloak to cover their iniquity.
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 described the future, as if it had already taken place. He told Judah that enemy invaders have made them desolate and Jerusalem, the daughter of Zion, like a crude, temporary hut, standing amid the wreckage. But if not for the grace of God, in sparing a very small remnant, the destruction would have been as complete as that of Sodom and Gomorrah.