Rebellion Against God is Self-Destructive, Isaiah 6:8-10
Good evening. Thanks for the opportunity to speak before you all tonight. In Sunday School a couple of weeks ago we studied Isaiah 6:1-7 and tonight we’re going to look at verses 8-10. But before we do that let me just take a few minutes and go over what we looked at in Sunday School with respect to verses 1-7 and let me talk a little bit about background, the background with respect to Isaiah and the Book itself.
As we saw before, Isaiah’s ministry started in the mid 700’s B.C. and went to around the 680’s B.C. So if you look at a larger timeline, King David lived around 1000 B.C. so Isaiah comes along about 250 years later. And Isaiah had access to many kings of the southern kingdom. At this time the land of the Jews was divided into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. Isaiah lived in the southern kingdom and the capital of the southern kingdom was Jerusalem. So Isaiah is a city dweller, like most of us. He’s not from the country, he lives in the city and extra Biblical tradition, Jewish tradition, extra Biblical sources suggest that Isaiah was part of the royal family, that he was a cousin of one of the kings, King Uzziah. And that’s why he had all this access to the kings there in Jerusalem. He had access to kings like Uzziah, Hezekiah, Ahaz, and Jotham.
Now the name “Isaiah” means Yahweh is salvation. And Yahweh is the divine name, it’s the name of God, one of the names of God in the Old Testament, one of the principle names of God. The Book of Isaiah is often called the fifth gospel. You know, you’ve got the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but Isaiah is often called the fifth gospel because there are so many references to the Savior, so many references to the Messiah in the Book of Isaiah very similar to the other four Gospels.
The book is divided into three parts; chapters 1-39 is directed to the people who are alive at the time of Isaiah; they’re the listeners of Isaiah’s message. Then chapters 40-55 are directed to a future generation of Israelites, a generation that will live 150-200 years later and they will live in exile as slaves to the Babylonians. And the message of the first part is a message of judgment; judgment is coming because you’ve been rebelling against God. That’s the message of the first part of Isaiah; there’s going to be blessing but first intense extreme judgment.
The second part of Isaiah is chapter 40-55 which is directed to that future generation who’s going to live under the boot of the Babylonians. That’s a message of hope and comfort; persevere… persevere is realized because God has a plan. He has not forgotten you, He has a plan for the future of Israel. That’s the second part of the book. And the final, the third part of the book is chapters 56-66 and that’s directed to even a future generation of Israelite’s, it’s the generation that’s going to return from Babylon, return from exile, and return back to the land. And the message there was a message of follow the Law, obey because in the first part that’s what got us into trouble was not obeying God, disobeying God. So the message of the final part of the book is follow the Law and look to the coming Messiah.
So in our passage tonight, in chapter 6 of Isaiah, Isaiah is brought up into a vision of heaven and Isaiah gets a glimpse of the majesty and glory of God and he is utterly terrified. Standing in the presence of perfect holiness gives sin… even just the slightest of sins, is magnified in the presence of God and God’s perfect holiness. And so God, in His matchless grace gives Isaiah a solution, a solution to the sin problem. So let’s review verses 1-7 quickly.
Isaiah 6:1, “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” Now what’s unique about this temple is that there’s a throne in it; the temple in Jerusalem didn’t have a throne in it. The temple in Jerusalem is where there’s spiritual power, there’s worship. That’s a place of worship. The throne is the political power over in the King’s palace with the spears and the swords and the armor and the soldiers. But in heaven those two are combined because all power comes from God. All power emanates from God and when the God-man, Jesus, returns to rule the world for a thousand years He will exhibit that power. He will show that power that He currently exhibits in heaven but when He returns He will exhibit it on earth. And that’s the Second Advent and that should be a source of comfort for us.
Now the next couple of verses describe, verses 2-3, are earthly words describing a heavenly scene that is totally foreign to our images of earth. So let’s look at those. Verse 2, “2 Seraphim stood above Him,” stood above the Lord, “each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” So you have the Lord on His throne, lofty and exalted with the train of His robe filling the temple and you have these Seraphim, these angels flying above Him, with two wings; they’re hovering like a bee or a wasp would hover. With two wings they’re covering their feet because presumable their feet are the least honorable portion of their body. And with two wings they’re covering their face because not even these sinless creatures will look on the presence of God.
Verse 3. “And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” The Hebrew word there is Kadosh, so the angel says, one angel says to the other angel, Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Holy, Holy, Holy, and we saw (when we studied this a couple of weeks ago) that the word “holy” when used for a person or a group of people or a place or a thing means separated to God, set apart to God. But here holy is not being used to describe a person or place of thing; it’s being used to describe God Himself so it means something much bigger. Here when holy… in the Scripture when holy is being used to describe God it means He is totally distinct, above and beyond, outside of His creation, totally independent of His creation. Or using the theological term, transcendent, He transcends His creation. And God needs nothing outside of Himself; He is His own source of existence, His own life. We, on the other hand, have all kinds of needs; we need all kinds of things, oxygen, sleep, money to pay the bills, food. God is absolute holiness and His holiness gives Him sovereign and authority over His creation.
And the seraphs repetition of “Holy” three times is designed to show the absolute unapproachable holiness of God. And it also fits with the three person nature of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament you see these glimpses of the Trinity; the doctrine of the Trinity is not fully unpacked for us until the New Testament but here in the Old Testament you see glimpses of it.
But the point here is that the Lord is above His creation, He’s transcendent. But He’s not just “out there,” He’s also involved in His creation. He loves it, He provides for it, He sacrifices for it and that’s the rest of the verse that you see there, “the whole earth is full of His glory.” He’s engaged in His creation, and the theological term there is imminent. So He’s transcendent, but He’s also imminent. Also we see here in verse 3 this phrase, “LORD of hosts.” And the Hebrew word there, “LORD of hosts” is Yahweh Sabaoth, Yahweh—the name of God, and then Sabaoth means armies. It’s translated here “hosts,” that old English word meaning army. The word Yahweh, the name Yahweh is related to the Hebrew word [can’t understand word] which means to exist or to live. You see, it’s the name itself is pregnant with meaning, with relationship in terms of existence; He IS existence, He’s always existed, there’s never been a time when God did not exist, from eternity past to now to eternity future there was never a time that God did not exist.
And so you can see the relationship with that verb to exist or to be. Now Sabaoth, this armies, what’s that saying is that God is the Lord of the armies, the angelic armies are within reference here and it’s describing the extreme military power and might of God.
Verse 4, “And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” The Lord’s presence is always overwhelming and the smoke and quaking is reminiscent of the Israelites when they were introduced to God at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19, when the mountain quaked and the ground shook and smoke bellowed out. Same think here, Isaiah is being introduced to the King of the universe and you have smoke and quaking happening here as well.
Verse 5, “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts,” or “LORD of the armies.” Isaiah, this great prophet of God, is terrified because he is standing in the presence of perfect holiness. He is standing in the presence of God and even the slightest of his sins is magnified; he’s humbled because of his total inferiority to God, inferiority because he knows he’s a sinner and he knows God is holy. He knows that the Lord is God and he is not and that’s what makes Isaiah so great, because he submits to God. Isaiah understands that the Lord has moral authority to decide how we should and shouldn’t live. And Isaiah knows that he and his people have both violated God’s moral standards. And so Isaiah is not even qualified to speak to God because his lips, the instruments of speech and praise, they’re unclean. So the Lord, in His grace, provides a solution.
Verse 6 and 7, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.  He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘“Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”’ The angels act of touching a coal, a burning coal to Isaiah’s lips was a representative sign that Isaiah’s sin was forgiven. And that’s the same thing for us, right? Isaiah’s sin was forgiven by grace; our sin is forgiven by grace! By grace our sins are forgiven if we trust in Christ.
Now we don’t need an angel to touch coal to our lips for our sins to be forgiven; all we need to do is trust that Christ paid for our sins and then after we’re saved when we sin, under 1 John 1:9 we confess our sin to God and he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. So this act by the Seraph of touching the coal to Isaiah’s lips was a representative sign because Isaiah is already saved. He’s already a believer when he’s brought up into this vision in heaven but it was a sign that his sins were forgiven and now he’s ready to have a conversation with the God of the universe.
So that’s what we saw las time in Sunday School. That’s a summary of what we looked at. And the point of verses 1-7 is that God’s holiness demands that we submit to Him. God’s holiness gives Him absolute authority over His creation and we as sinners must recognize that we are inferior to God and that’s kind of an understatement. We are inferior to God and we have to submit to God. And that’s what Isaiah did. Tonight in verse 8-10 we’re going to see that rebellion against God is self-destructive. Rebellion against God is toxic to the human soul. So let’s jump right in.
Verse 8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!”’ What we see here is that Isaiah volunteers just like that [snaps his finger], there’s no hesitation with Isaiah. The Lord doesn’t order Isaiah to serve; Isaiah doesn’t get voluntold. You know what I mean when I say “voluntold”? You’re told to volunteer; it’s when your boss comes in and says you will volunteer for this. Well, Isaiah doesn’t get voluntold; he says pick me, PICK ME! He raises his hand and says I want to serve. Isaiah is so grateful, so grateful from having gone to “woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I’m ruined” [verse 5] to having his sins forgiven. He’s so grateful that he is forgiven that he wants to serve. He wants to serve God in the way God wants him to serve.
We have to ask ourselves, are we that grateful about our salvation or are we just kind of blasé about it? Do we have that attitude of gratitude and we’re anxious to do God’s will or are we kind of… you know what, I’ll get to you God when it fits my list of priorities. Now we can’t repay God because it’s a gift, salvation is a gift, it’s free. And so we can’t pay God and that’s not what Isaiah is trying to do. Isaiah’s just grateful and so he wants to serve the Lord. And that’s what we should be doing too.
Now in verse 8 God is not wondering who He should send. God’s not saying well do we sent Mike? No, Mike’s kind of a dummy, we can’t send Mike. Do we send Joe? Well, you know, there’s pros and cons with Joe. Well, maybe we should send Jeff, how about Jeff? That’s not what’s happening. That’s not how God operates. What God is doing is He’s giving Isaiah an opportunity to volunteer. God’s knowledge is unlimited because He’s omniscient. And some of the verses that lay this out are 1 John 3:20 which tells us that God (quote) “knows all things.” “All” means all, meaning He knows all the knowable. Anything that can be known He knows.
Or Psalm 147:5 tells us that God’s understanding is infinite. [Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”] Isaiah 40:28 tells us that His understanding is inscrutable. [Isaiah 40:28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.”] That’s a pretty strong word, “inscrutable”! That means we can’t get it; that means our finite brains cannot comprehend the breadth and the magnitude of God’s knowledge. What this means is that God has perfect clarity of knowledge, of the past five days ago, fifty years ago, five hundred years ago, five thousand years ago. I’m doing good to remember last week; God has perfect clarity of the past.
Praise God that He memorialized Scripture and He entrusted it to the children of Israel for it to be preserved, Scripture that’s thousands of years old. But other than the Bible if we go back into history 2,000, 4,000, 6,000 years our historical record of historical events is pretty scant. We have no idea what happened in Scandinavia or in South Africa or in Northern Russia 10,000 years ago. God has perfect clarity of knowledge of the past. He has perfect clarity and knowledge of the present. He knows exactly what is happening at Sugar Land, Texas, right now, in Bangladesh, in Taiwan, in Berlin, in London, and in Santiago Chile right now in this instant of time. He has perfect clarity of knowledge of the future, not in some goofy Nostradamus way, you know, where you take Nostradamus’s writings and you kind of squint and you cock your head this way and say well, maybe it means this. NO! God has perfect clarity of knowledge of what will happen in the future.
And then, this is the one that makes my brain hurt. He has perfect clarity of knowledge of what could have happened, ALL the potentialities. You know those TV shows or those movies like Back to the Future where they go back in time and they’re always worried about we need to be careful to not change events here because when we get back to our time the course of history is going to be changed and we might not even exist. If we change the events in earlier time and, you know, our parents or our great grandparents never met then we might not exist. Well, we make decisions, every human being makes decisions every days, hundreds of them. Do I go left, do I go right? Do I do this, do I do that? And God knows all of the decisions that we could have but didn’t make. And that goes on ad infinitum for every human being, for the trillions of people that have existed and exist. He has complete absolute knowledge and His knowledge is infinite, eternal and immediate!
We can’t fully understand God’s knowledge, and that’s why the Apostle Paul said in Romans 11:33, “Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!” But God, in His matchless grace and mercy gives us a glimpse of Himself and by extension God gives that glimpse of Himself to us in the Scripture. God reveals this divine conversation that is happening among the Trinity. And you get to peak behind the curtain and you see a few times in Scripture these intimate conversations that happen among the Trinity, like in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays to the Father.
Notice in verse 8, go back to verse 8 here, it says “Whom shall I send and who will go for Us?’ Do you see how the pronouns change? “I” to “Us”? This “Us” is the same “Us” as in the creation account of Genesis 1:26 where God said, “Let Us make man in our own image, according to our likeness.” It’s the same “Us” as in Genesis 11:7 where God created humanity’s separate languages at the tower of Babel. There God said, “Come let Us go down and there confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the “Us” in all these verses, in the Genesis account and the tower of Babel account in Genesis 6 represents and shows the plurality of God. We can’t say that it tells us that much about the Trinity; we don’t get the Trinity unpacked, the doctrine of the Trinity unpacked for us until the New Testament, but the “Us” here shows that there is a plurality of the God head. And then we learn in the New Testament that it’s Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Now some suggest that the “Us” in the creation account doesn’t mean God alone and that it instead means God and His angels. And what they’re saying by that is that God and the angels together jointly created the heavens and created humanity. I do not believe that is an accurate view of those passages. There certainly are passages that describe the angels being present in the courtroom in the heavens and in the throne room of God but God alone is the Creator and He takes counsel from no one! He doesn’t take advice or assistance from the angels in His creation, in His act of creation. And we see that in Isaiah 40:12-14.
But what these verses lay out, and these are questions that Isaiah asked and they all demand… the implication is no, no one else. So let’s just read through these. Isaiah 40:12-14, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,” no one, “and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,” no one, “and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in a pair of scales?” These questions demand a negative answer. In other words, no one did any of these things with respect to creation other than God Himself. Verse 13, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has informed Him? “ No one. Verse 14, “With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?”
What these verses are saying is no one counseled God; no one assisted God in the creation account because that’s what these verses are about, the creation of the heavens and the earth and humanity. And these verses describe God almost as if… look back at verse 12, almost as if He’s a workman with His tools. See how it describes, “Who has measured” so He has a measure, or “marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust” He knows exactly how many specs of dust there are in the earth. Isn’t that amazing? “…by the measure,” so it’s as if God has a measuring rod, “and weighed the mountains in a balance … in a pair of scales.”
So God is the one who created the heavens and the earth and He didn’t use the angels in that activity. God, just by a word created us and the heavens and the earth. So based on this Isaiah 40 passage the “us” and the creation account of Genesis 1 is only God Himself, NOT God with the angels. And it’s the same thing in our passage in Isaiah 6. God is not asking the angels, those seraphim who are flying above the throne, God’s not saying who do you think we should send. He’s not asking the angels that. It’s God having a conversation… it’s the Godhead having a conversation among themselves and what they’re doing is they’re giving Isaiah an opportunity, God is giving Isaiah an opportunity to volunteer.
Now there are two false doctrines that have come about from a failure to understand the Trinity. The first is the idea that Christians say that there are three separate gods. In other words, the argument that Christians are polytheistic, that we believe in multiple gods. We don’t! But Islam makes this accusation against Christianity and they say in the Koran, they say, “they do blaspheme who say Allah is one of three in a trinity; for there is no god except One Allah.” [Surah 5:73]
But this accusation against Christianity is false because it reveals a lack of understanding of the Trinity. Christians do not believe in multiple gods, they believe in one God. And we see that from the famous Shema; Shema in Hebrew means hear, or listen. The Shema is Deuteronomy 6:4, “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad” “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” In other words, one in essence; each member of the three person Godhead, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, have the same divine essence. So we can say that God is one, one in essence and in perfect unity.
The second false doctrine about the Trinity is the view that only the Father is really God and the Son and the Holy Spirit are something less than the Father, they’re something less than God. And this is the false doctrine that is disseminated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and they view Jesus, for example, as being a created being, as being less than God. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say on their website, “Jesus lived as a spirit person in heaven before he was born in Bethlehem. He was God’s first creation and the only one created directly by God.” [www.jw.org.] So there they’re saying that Jesus is not God, instead He’s a created being. That’s false!
Then with respect to the Holy Spirit Jehovah’s Witness doctrine is that the Spirit is not even a person and instead the spirit is like a force or an energy. And we see that in this quote from their website which says, “The holy spirit is God’s power in action, his active force. . . . By referring to God’s spirit as his ‘hands,’ ‘fingers,’ or ‘breath,’ the Bible shows that the holy spirit is not a person.” [www.jw.org.]
Well, all of these Jehovah’s Witness views are false because the New Testament teaches clearly that each member of the Trinity is fully God. God’s not just one, one in essence, God’s also three because each member of the Trinity is fully God. And let me show you what I mean. The Father is described in Scripture as full deity and usually there’s not much argument about God the Father. But let’s go ahead and look at these passages about the Father.
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” So there it’s specifically referring to the Father as in heaven, in other words, He’s God.
Or Philippians 4:20, this is Paul’s prayer where he states that the Father is God, specifically, “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen”
How about the Son, how about God the Son. He’s also full deity and there’s the well-known passage, John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “and the Word” here is a reference to God the Son, a reference to Jesus.
The Apostle Paul also laid out the deity of Christ in Colossians 2:9, very clearly, “In Him,” this is a reference to Jesus, God the Son, “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” And look at that passage just for a minute. This isn’t only saying that the Son is God, this is also a passage about the Hypostatic union, about the union of God and man together because it says, “In Him,” in Jesus, “all the fullness of deity dwells,” so that’s an absolute statement that Jesus is God, because “fullness of deity,” you don’t get much broader than that. But then it also says, “in bodily form,” so deity dwells in bodily form. That’s one of the mysteries of the Bible, of how God and man can be united in one person forever, in Jesus. So the Father and the Son each have the same characteristics of deity.
Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit. He also is full deity and has the characteristics of God, divine essence. For example, in Hebrews 9:14, it describes the Holy Spirit as being eternal. Only God is eternal, everything else had a time of creation but God has always existed. So here we read and 9:14 breaks into the middle of the sentence, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit” that’s the Holy Spirit, “offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Then the Apostle Paul also described the Holy Spirit as being omniscient, another characteristic that is possessed solely by God. 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul says, “Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” That means the Holy Spirit has the same knowledge as God does. Or to say it differently the Holy Spirit is omniscient in the same way that God is.
And finally there’s the Trinitarian formula and let me say, there are a number of verses in the Bible that lay out, especially in the New Testament, that lay out the doctrine of the trinity, and so I’m just touching on a few of them here. But the final one that I want to talk about is the Trinitarian formula and what I mean by that is there are passages that list “the Father, the Son and the Spirit” without any sort of suggestion that any member of the Trinity is less than the others, without suggesting that there’s some lower rank or lower standing than any of them. And one of the classic passages on that is the great commission that Jesus spoke at the end of Matthew in Matthew 28:19, where Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” there’s no distinction at all that a couple of these are at a lower rank than the other; they all have the same equal standing.
Or how about Ephesians 2:17-18, which shows that each member of the Godhead is involved in our salvation, In verse 17 we read, “And He,” that’s a reference to Christ, “CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;” that’s still a reference to Christ, “for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit” there’s the Holy Spirit, “to the Father.” So you have all three members of the Trinity involved in your salvation, involved in plucking you from eternal death and placing you into eternal life. The gospel itself is Trinitarian. The point here is that God is made up of three persons that all have the same divine essence, Father, Son and Spirit. And that’s why we can say that God is three and yet one.
All right, back to our passage in Isaiah 6:9-10, “He said,” this is the Lord speaking, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’  Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” These verses are dripping with divine sarcasm and irony. What the Lord is saying is you’ve rejected me so go look all you want, go seek the Lord all you want but you’re not going to get it because you don’t want Me, you hate me, we’re going to see a passage here in a moment that they hate God. And so God is speaking with this sanctified sarcasm, you’ve rejected Me so go search the Word and search truth all you want but you’re not going to understand it because you’re rejecting Me.
Rejection of God is toxic to the human soul; it is self-destructive; it hurts us. And so the children of Israel’s rejection of God that forms the basis of God’s condemnation of them here in verses 9 and 10, the rejection is laid out earlier in the Book of Isaiah. It’s laid out in Isaiah 1; Isaiah 1 explains why God is condemning them and using this divine sarcasm here in a real sharp way. So let’s look over at Isaiah 1:2, here we read, God says, “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me.’” What God is doing here is He’s calling into session a cosmic courtroom and He is bringing His indictment against His people who are rebelling against Him. And he calls witnesses for the prosecution, for His prosecution, He calls the heavens and He calls the earth to come and testify to what they have seen in terms of the people’s rejection and rebellion against Him.
And this imagery of a cosmic courtroom is not unique to us. Moses used the same imagery a number of times in Deuteronomy. For example, in Deuteronomy when Moses lays out the Mosaic Covenant and that’s a special covenant between Israel and God that got entered into with the Israelites. And it’s actually a very straightforward covenant because I’m going to give you this Law, the Mosaic Law, and if you obey Me I will bless you. And there’s a long, long list of blessings, I’ll give you good crops, and I’ll give you good livestock, productive livestock, and I’ll give you peace and I’ll give you military victory and I’ll give you prosperity and I’ll give you blessing. But if you disobey Me and you rebel against Me then I will give you curses and I will give you famine and I will give you poverty and I will give you military defeat and I will give you suffering. And ultimately I will rip you from the land and I will expel you to the uttermost parts of the earth. So that’s the Mosaic Covenant; it’s very straightforward. Obedience—blessing; disobedience—cursing.
And so as Moses is describing the Mosaic Covenant and the blessings and the curses in Deuteronomy 28 and 30, at the end of chapter 30 of Deuteronomy he describes this cosmic courtroom and he says this in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. [So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,]” So then fast-forward 800 years to the time of Isaiah and he uses the same imagery of the cosmic courtroom.
So Isaiah 1:2-4, let’s just read 2 again, “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the Lord speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me.  An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”  Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly!” And here’s the real clicker, at the end of verse 4, “They have abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel,” that’s one of the other names of God in the Holy Spirit, “the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him.” What this passage is saying is that they hate God; that’s what “despised” means, right? “…they have despised the Holy One of Israel,” they have despised and they’re saying get away, go, I don’t want you God, get out of here, I don’t want You, I don’t want Your truth just go.
And in verse 3 God says they’re worse than animals because at least the donkey and the ox know their master. So for centuries they have been rejecting God and in their despising of God they were covering their eyes, covering their ears and saying I don’t want Your truth, I don’t want it! GO! Rejection of God is self-destructive; it’s dangerous because rejection of God begets more rejection and it’s a poison in the soul. It’s toxic to the human soul because it blinds the person to God’s truth. So their hearts are being hardened because of their negative volition towards God.
And then when He send one of the most eloquent prophets, Isaiah, to preach His truth they’re negative volition is intensified even more. And the sad reality is their rejection against God is pointless; it’s futile because He is God and we are not. God’s plan marches on, it just ticks on regardless of people’s rebellion.
So the children of Israel would reject Isaiah, one of the most eloquent prophet speakers of the Old Testament. And it appears that this rejection culminated in the wicked King Manasseh, who was one of the southern kings of the southern kingdom, murdering Isaiah because he didn’t want to hear about Isaiah’s prophecy of coming judgment. And Jewish tradition says that Manasseh ordered Isaiah to be sawn in half; that’s an extra biblical source, we can’t say that that is definitively what happened but we do see in Hebrews 11:37 the description of the sufferings that Old Testament saints went through and there we read, “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword….” And it goes on. [“they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated.”]
So as I say we can’t say definitively that that is how Isaiah died but what we know for certain is that the people rejected Isaiah’s message. But even in the midst of all this rejection of God, this despising of God, God longs for reconciliation… He LONGS for it, and this is explained in Psalm 81:11-13. And in this passage you see the… almost the pain of the words that describe God’s longing. There we read, “Psalm 81:11-13, “But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me.  So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,” you see the time sequence there, first they didn’t :listen to My voice” and they “did not obey me,” so then God gives them over to what they want. “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.” And here’s the painful part, “Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!”
God’s desire is to turn to Him but they don’t want it. And you see a similar passage like this with Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:37 where He says, ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it.” God longs for reconciliation. And that goes for us too, we have to ask ourselves, are we in rebellion against God? A believer can be in rebellion against God. A believer can be rejecting God. Sure, the believer who has accepted Christ is now saved and he’s no longer in eternal condemnation he has eternal life (or she has eternal life) but his life can be in total rebellion against God if the believer is rejecting the Lord, and rejection of God is self-destructive. It hurts us.
So back to verse 9 and 10. God’s condemnation of the children of Israel here in Isaiah 6:9-10 is quoted many times in the New Testament. It’s quoted in all four Gospels; it’s quoted at the end of Acts where the Apostle Paul is citing it. And in all these passages in the New Testament Isaiah 6 is quoted here, these words a condemnation in 9 and 10, in connection with the nation of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah. The nation of Israel rejected Christ. Now of course a nation is made up of individuals and so what happened was the leadership of Israel at the time of Christ had an attitude of rejection of Christ. A majority of the people of Israel had an attitude of rejection of Christ. And that’s why we can say that the nation itself had that approach of rejecting the Messiah.
So what has happened here is there’s a near fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9-10 in terms of rejection, and a far fulfillment. What I mean by that is the people who listened to Isaiah’s message, they rejected it—I don’t want it! Get out! Go! And then that rejection continued over the centuries and it heaped, it culminated at the time of Christ when God Himself came and tabernacled among them and preached the Word, preached the word of reconciliation, comma, listen to God’s Word, Jesus was preaching. And they said no, go, get out! Let’s kill You! Near fulfillment at the time of Isaiah, far fulfillment at the time of Christ.
All right. Well, what have we seen tonight in these verses, 8-10? We’ve seen that rebellion against God is self-destructive. Rebellion against God is toxic to the human soul because it begets more rebellion, more rejection, it eats away at our souls. When a person hears divine truth they say bah, I’m already used to putting up my barrier of rejection. And it intensifies people’s rejection of God. It blinds them to the divine truth and to the truth giver who is God Himself.
So what’s the solution? The solution is what Isaiah said in verses 1-7. Be submitted to God, it’s a simple solution. It’s two paths, one is a path of humility and submission to God and one is a path of pride and arrogance of no, no, no, no, no, I’ve got this God, I’ll hold my fist up to You, my puny little fist up to You God! That’s the path of arrogance and pride. Isaiah, knowing that he’s inferior to God because of His sin, submits to God, recognizes his inferiority and accepts God’s sin solution.
The solution to sin is pretty simple actually; it’s all about accepting God’s solution. All we have to do is jettison our pride and submit to God, either the unbeliever jettisoning his pride and submitting to God in accepting Christ for the forgiveness of his sin, or the believer, when the believer is engaged in sin to confess his sin to God and run from it, and return to God.
We’ll finish the rest of chapter 6 on October 15th in Sunday School. Let’s close in prayer. Father, we thank You for this time together; we ask that You humble us. Remind us that You are God and we are not and challenge us to submit to you, challenge us to discard our pride, challenge us to remember that rejection of you is self-destructive and Your plan marches on anyway. Challenge us to remember that rejection of you, rebellion against you hurts us and challenges us to submit to You. And we pray these things in the power of the Spirit, in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.