”…whoever divided Isaiah into chapters did a rather interesting thing, though I doubt whether it was deliberate. They divided the book into 66 chapters, the same number as the books of the Bible. Furthermore, they divided Isaiah into two distinct parts of 39 chapters and 27 chapters. It just happens that the Old Testament has 39 books and the New Testament 27. Also, the message of the first 39 chapters summarizes the message of the Old Testament, and the message of the last 27 chapters summarizes exactly the message of the New Testament! The second part of Isaiah (i.e. chapter 40) begins with the voice crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’ – words later used by John the Baptist. It moves on to a servant of the Lord who is anointed by the Holy Spirit, dies for the sins of his people, and is raised and exalted after his death. It then moves on to the declaration that ‘You shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth’, and it finishes up with God saying, ‘I am making all things new. I create a new heaven and a new earth.’ In other words, if somebody took the whole Bible and squeezed it into one book, you’d finish up with the prophecy of Isaiah. It is the Bible in miniature.” J.D.Pawson:’Unlocking the Bible’, pp.497,498
Well, continuing to work through chapter 1, you see how in (10-14) Isaiah addresses the people of Judah as if they themselves were the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (see also 9). God has no pleasure in lavish sacrifices and numerous meetings if they are empty rituals, without heart, and do not positively affect lives (1 Sam.15:22; Prov.15:8; 21:27). ”Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning.” The Message. There is always a possibility that God may hate some of the services we love. We congratulate ourselves on ‘a really blessed time’, but did it bless the Lord? That’s the key question.
God will not listen to our prayers if we cherish sin (15; Ps.66:18). He is not interested in mere words. He looks for the fruit of repentance (16, 17; Mt.3:8; Lk.19:8,9). ”Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” The Message.
These words are followed by a beautiful promise (18-20). No matter how much God hates their sin, if they are truly repentant (willing and obedient) their sins will be washed away as if they had never existed. But if they persist in their sins they will be punished. So, through Isaiah, ‘the evangelical prophet’, the Lord offers them the same choice He put to their ancestors: blessings or curses, life or death (Lev.26:3-39; Deut.30:15-20). Still today we must choose. These options remain before us. Will we turn to Christ or remain turned away from Him? We too can know the slate wiped clean and a fresh start. But there has to be a willingness to turn to the Lord.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for the beauty and the wonder of the total forgiveness you offer through Jesus. I stand amazed.