Entry Ninety: Isaiah's Prophecies Begin, Uzziah's Reign Ends

Submitted by johnlo on Tue, 2008-06-24 00:20

ENTRY NINETY – JUNE 24, 2008

 

90-THE DIVIDED KINGDOM - PART X (aka "The Prophecies of Isaiah, and the Death of Uzziah")  II Kings 15; II Chronicles 26-27; Isaiah 1-6

 

  • During Uzziah’s reign, Isaiah began to prophesy – a man who was probably the greatest evangelistic prophet – and his ministry lasted for 40 years during the reign of four kings! He issued numerous warnings about the judgment day, and he looked forward to the Messiah with exciting and visionary imagery. His message began with a condemnation of Judah’s many sins and challenged God’s people to come to their senses before it was too late. This is a very heavy entry, which also contains a LIST OF SINS, but a great wake-up call to all who call on the name of the Lord – I know that I certainly felt challenged when I read this passage!! (reading is for two days)

 

  • Please note that, since I am following F. LaGard Smith's order, I will be jumping back and forth between the Kings and Chronicles texts frequently, as well as reading the chapters of Isaiah unconventionally.  I normally won't refer to the specific passage unless it affects the meaning.

 

  • The vision of God the father is truly alive here, as Isaiah quotes the Lord as saying that he feels like a dad who has raised children who have grown up and rebelled against him. He pleads to his children, “Why should you be beaten anymore?”  In other words, why don’t you repent quickly so you don’t have to endure all this suffering?  Not all suffering is from God trying to wake us up, but some of it is, and we need to hurry up and learn the lessons we need to learn!! When God looks at our suffering, he sees the sores on our head (psoriasis????) and yearns for us to get better, but knows we won’t until we repent! He basically told them, “Look guys, your country will be completely wiped out, and if I don’t leave a few survivors, you will end up like Sodom and Gomorrah! Do you want things to come to that?”

 

  • The vineyard parable is a beautiful and sad description of how much God loves us and takes care of us, but how he can only do his part – he can’t do our part. Therefore, if we don’t do our part, he has to knock down the vineyard. Judah was God’s delight, just as Christians are today, but when he looks for righteousness, if he sees bloodshed and distress, there is nothing he can do to save us.

 

  • Isaiah challenged the Hebrews for specific sins:

 

  • RELIGIOUS FORMALISM
  • Just as Amos had told Israel, Isaiah tells Judah that God isn’t pleased with their church services, their singing or sacrifices, because he knows he doesn’t have their heart. In fact, God told the Hebrews the their religious festivals had become a burden to him. God’s message was, if you want me to answer your prayers, try less religiosity and more spirituality!

 

  • SINS OF INJUSTICE
  • God was in mourning because the people that had once been faithful were now adulterous in their relationship with him. They loved money and pleasure and didn’t care for widows and orphans. God knew that the only way to help them was to PURGE AWAY THE DROSS, and BRING BACK RIGHTEOUS LEADERSHIP.

 

  • SIN OF IDOLATRY
  • The people were enamored with the ways of the eastern people, with pagan practices and superstitions, and God was not happy! Mankind will be humbled for his!

 

  • SIN OF PRIDE AND ARROGANCE
  • Watch out for punishment if you struggle with arrogance. The Lord has a day in store for the proud and lofty – and they will be humbled. Scary!! Makes me shudder!!

 

  • SIN OF LEADERS
  • Sinful leaders have no self-awareness and are so proud in their sins that they parade them and don’t even blush! That is scary! Help those of us who are leaders, O God, as we oversee the churches you have given us to serve, to beware of pride, materialism, complacency and bitterness.  Please expose our sins and help us to change so that we don’t lead others astray!
  • Leaders need to lead – that is biblical. BUT leaders cannot have unlimited power because we know that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Dr. James Dobson, the famous Christian centered parenting and family expert, put it well during an interview with Larry King. Dobson volunteered that he, like any man, was tempted in many areas, and King, in a respectful yet incredulous way, asked him how he dealt with temptation. Dobson’s one word answer: “Accountability.” King really didn’t know what to do with that one, so Dobson explained, “I have a group of 10 men who know how to tell me NO!” He continued by saying that he wouldn’t be able to do what he does without people around him willing to tell him the truth. I doubt if I have ever seen Larry King look more uncomfortable. <smile> Many problems with our otherwise very biblically based movement could possibly be attributed to the fact that those of who are leaders, for a time, had way too much power. That doesn’t seem to be a problem now – we are more likely to be struggling with trying to decide if we want to trust ANY leaders again. But that is another subject for another day! (or should I say, another entry!)

 

  • SIN OF THE WOMEN

 

  • Watch out; it’s getting personal here! This is a diatribe against women who were supposed to be spiritual but were instead arrogant, self-righteous, comfort-loving, vain, flirtatious, complacent, selfish, and just plain worldly.  The promised punishment – sores on their head! (I have to tell you, when my psoriasis blew up two years ago, I read this verse with fear and trembling and much self-examination!) The visual here isn’t pretty – instead of the fragrance of their perfume, there will be a stench, etc. Yuk!! The humiliation that awaits is quite frightening.

 

  • SIN OF GREED

 

  • God promised “woe” to those who claimed to be his children but who lived for accumulating possessions and told them that their beautiful houses that they built one after the other instead of serving him would end up rotting.

 

  • SIN OF REVELRY

 

  • God addressed the pleasure loving culture here, and this definitely applies, just as the above sins have, to churches in the first world. Singapore is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and probably the most blessed materially of all Asian countries, other than Japan. We are constantly faced with the temptation to spend our wealth and our time on pleasure, be it trying new restaurants or the latest food fads, shopping at beautiful malls, going to day spas, or buying the newest gadget. We must see that pleasure will never fill the void in our hearts that comes from being far from God. Isaiah told of quite a sad end to those who didn’t repent of this sin.

 

  • SIN OF DRUNKENESS

 

  • This is similar to the above, but focused especially on those who are living for the pleasure of drink or the numbing (momentary) pleasure of being drunk.

 

  • SIN OF RATIONALIZATION

 

  • I suppose this is us when we say that we will repent if God sends us a sign, or if we pretend we are not sinning when we are. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes!”  I don’t know if these passages are scaring you, but they are scaring me!  As I get older, I need to ask my friends more and more to be honest with me about how they REALLY think I am doing.

 

  • SIN OF INJUSTICE

 

  • Since God is a just God, and since he shows so much mercy to others, he really HATES injustice, especially if it is in his name.

 

  • Isaiah then described the fury that would be unleashed upon God’s people, because of all of these sins, and because they had rejected the law of the Lord Almighty. The prophet foretold of how God would use foreign armies to destroy his people, in an attempt to appease His wrath. He promised shame and disgrace for the unrepentant. (What can I say? Some of this stuff does not make for “feel-good” reading, but it is in God’s word!)

 

  • Of course, when the hard times come, men would finally start to repent. They would throw their idols away (finally) but it may be too late! The people would BEG for someone to lead them, but leaders in that day were nowhere to be found- no one wanted the responsibility!

 

  • Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are as scarlet, I will wash them white as snow.” God is always willing to take us back when we repent. He wants humility. He wants us to be restored to a relationship with him. God promised the people of Judah that one day the Branch of the Lord would be beautiful and glorious, and that Jerusalem would once again be a haven for her people. Isaiah wrote that the mountain of the Lord would be established and all nations would stream to it. All who love the Lord will go there to learn of His words. The “swords into plougshares” metaphor comes up here (the one that Joel had humourously turned back to front; it must have been a common phrase in its day) – peace and serenity in God’s home following God’s word. Does this characterize your walk with God? Or does this sound so unfamiliar that you can’t relate to what Isaiah is writing? Are you always in attack mode, scrambling to survive? Let us go to God’s mountain and find peace.

 

  • Meanwhile, in the historical narratives, we read of all sorts of intrigue – Tiglath-Pileser, also known as King Pul of Assyria, began to attack Israel. King Menahem held him at bay only by levying taxes on everyone. The Menahem dies and his son, Pekahiah, took over in Israel. His character was no better than his father’s, and he lasted only two years on the throne before being assassinated by one of his chief officers. This man, Pekah, succeeded him as king and was also evil. (surprise, surprise…)

 

  • The leprous King of Judah, Uzziah, died and his son, who had been co-regent with him, took over for good. The narrative states that Jotham did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but, unlike his father, didn’t enter the temple! He sure learned his lesson!

 

  • Unfortunately, the people continued their corrupt practices! So God sent Isaiah a vision, which is best read out loud (see chapter six). I love this passage so much I almost want to type it out word for word, but I will trust you to read it! It is majestic and beautiful! 

 

  • Isaiah was a great prophet because he saw God for who He was! In all his majesty and glory and dominion and holiness. He also saw himself for who he was – a sinner! When I have this attitude, when I meet up with the all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present God with an attitude of grateful humility and poverty of spirit, that is when God can use me! No wonder God inspired Isaiah to say, “Here Am I, Send Me!”  (What a mission field Isaiah had – people who would never listen or respond no matter what! Good grief! But Isaiah kept preaching because the message was right, and his God was Lord. At least he was promised a remnant in the end!)

 

  • And while Isaiah was preparing for a long and weary spiritual campaign, King Jotham in Judah was having some initial victories because at least he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.

 

karenlouis@seachurches.org