A Nation In Crisis (Lessons From Isaiah)
“I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” vs. 2b
I’m Voting for Bobby!
Can you name the year?
Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated
The Vietnam War is not going as well as hoped
Anti-War protests grow and happen across the country
The U.S.S. Pueblo intelligence ship is captured by the Koreans
The Apollo 6 Mission
Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated
Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s administration falls apart and he chooses not to run for reelection
Yes, that was 1968. I was in second grade and I remember going to my friend
Mark’s house to spend the night. Mark’s father had come home from work and
was reading the paper and watching the news. I saw Bobby Kennedy on the
television and I told Mark’s dad that Bobby Kennedy would win the presidency
and that if I were old enough I would vote for him. He chuckled at me and said
something like, “What does a little 7 year old know about politics!” He also said
something like this, “With all that is happening in our country, it’s a crazy time and
our nation seems to being going to hell in handbasket.”
48 years later and I think a lot of people might be saying the same thing about our
country right now. The Presidential race is not only dividing our country but seems
to get more crazy and whacky by the day. It seems we have more killing of
innocent people than ever. Mass murder seems way too frequent. Internet scams,
elder abuse, etc. and the list goes on of all the things that make it seem that our
country is on the verge of collapse or at least falling apart at the seams. But you
know, we aren’t the only ones that feel that way and many times in the past
countries have felt the same way. What do we do. We are going to start a short
series on messages from the prophet Isaiah. Today, we will start at beginning of
the book that has his name on it. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s
Word from Isaiah 1:1-9.
Read Passage – Isaiah 1:1-20
The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns
of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen,
earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have
rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel
does not know, my people do not understand.” 4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose
guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the
Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. 5 Why
should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is
injured, your whole heart afflicted. 6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by
strangers. 8 Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field,
like a city under siege. 9 Unless the Lord Almighty had left us some survivors, we would
have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.
Israel and Judah Out of Whack
If we think we are out of whack and everything is going crazy, I think the nation of
Israel in the Old Testament may have had it a whole lot more than us. Let me
explain. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. God heard their cries of
oppression and chose them to be his people. He led them out of slavery, took them
to a land that He choose for them, gave them victory over the peoples of those
lands and virtually provided for all their needs. He gave them honor and respect
and then choose them to be the people that would carry on his name. They loved
taking all the blessings and good things that God gave them. But, as they settled
and established themselves, they became more self-centered, more concerned
about what they wanted rather than what God wanted for them and even rebelled
against God. For the next couple of hundred years, they go through this time of
moving toward God but then rebelling again. God wanted to be their God and he
wanted them to be his people. He likened it to a Father-Child relationship. In verse
2 Isaiah shows how unstable that relationship had become and how God viewed it:
“For the Lord has spoken: ‘I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled
against me.’” vs. 2
That’s where Isaiah comes in. These people kept falling away from God, so God
would send prophets to try to warn them and guide them and correct them to get
their relationship with God back on track. A good picture of this comes from one
of the kings that Isaiah prophesied to, Jotham. He was actually a pretty good king
and did some good things but still do all that was necessary. It says about him in 2
“He (Jotham) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah done.
The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and
burn incense there.” 2 Kings 15:34-35
So he did well to follow God, but didn’t take care of everything. He still let these
false gods and worshippers do their thing in a kingdom that was supposed to be
totally dedicated to God. It’s a good lesson for us that we can be true and faithfull
to God but that if we let evil and false gods into our lives, even a little, it could
have terrible effects.
How Bad It Had Gotten
So, what happened was that if continued to spiral downward. This is how bad it
had gotten, verse 3:
“The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my
people do not understand.” vs. 3
It had gotten so bad they were worse off than animals, and not just any animals,
animals that we associate with stubbornness and not being too bright. These
animals have no sense of right or wrong, no sense of intelligence, no sense of even
who owns them and feeds them. And Isaiah is saying that these people had spiraled
down below those animals. That’s bad. Isaiah is saying about the Israelites that
they didn’t even know their own dad. It got so bad that God eventually let their
enemies destroy them and only kept a remnant of people to carry on his name.
Now you might think, wow, this is going to be a short sermon cause all we have to
do is stop doing things wrong and everything will correct itself and work out okay.
Not so fast. We have a lot to learn from Isaiah.
Signs You’re Out of Sync with God
In fact, Isaiah has some things to teach us that have a dual application to them. We
not only can apply them to our nation but to our individual selves as well. What
Isaiah show us is three things: 3 signs that you are out of sync with God.
1. Turned Your Back on God
The first sign that you are not in sync with God is that you have turned your back
on him. Isaiah says in verse 4b:
“They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their
backs on him.” vs. 4b
What is he really saying when he says they have spurned the Holy One and turned
their back on him? It’s this: Where do you find your truth and what determines
your ethics and values? God wanted the Israelites to trust him, follow him, and
trust his plan for them. They were trusting in themselves and their king and
basically turned their backs, they turned away, from God.
We have the same choice; who do we trust, who do we follow, what determines
our values and ethics. It used to be that God values were the basic building blocks
of our country and of people lives. No anymore. That was even true in the 60’s like
we talked about earlier. Even if it wasn’t trusting God it was following a religion, a
set of laws or rules that were to guide people. Today it is not that way at all. Today
the teaching is to trust ourselves. That we have the answers, we have the
knowledge and experience to determine all that we are.
Here is where Christianity differs from other religions and other strains of thought;
we don’t follow a set of rules or laws or even trust in ourselves. Our belief is in a
person; in a relationship with God and his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus urges us to
follow him in Luke 14:27:
“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27
So the teaching of Isaiah is to learn from Israel and not turn our back to God but to
turn toward God and follow him.
2. A Hardened Heart
A second sign that you are not in sync with God is that your heart has hardened.
Isaiah warns in verse 4a:
“Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!” vs. 4a
Notice his words “whose guilt is great.” Guilt is an emotion we have that is meant
to guide us and help us. Guilt is a feeling that is caused by knowing or thinking
you have done something wrong. That feeling is a guide for us. It should cause us
to consider our actions, to consider what we have done and to help us move toward
doing what is right. When we don’t, we end up where Israel ended up; with a
hardened heart. It no longer affects us. Ever wonder how some people can do
something wrong or evil and not feel bad? That’s a hardened heart. We are
endanger of hardening our hearts when we no longer feel guilty about our sin and
about the things that displease God.
We see that happening as a nation right now. We don’t do all we can to protect the
downtrodden, the homeless, the less fortunate. We see the rich getting richer and
the middle class disappearing. We don’t feel guilty when the innocent die or when
the homeless go without food and the basic necessities. The guide is God, His
Word and His call on our lives. But following God takes effort and work.
Jeremiah, another prophet to Israel, put it this way in Jeremiah 29:13:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Too many of us take a lackadaisical effort in following God and that can lead to
indifference and a hardening of our heart.
3. Full of Hurts
And the 3rd sign that we are not in sync with God is that we are full of hurts. Israel
found themselves hurting and not understanding that they were causing their own
struggles. Isaiah put it this way in verse 6:
“From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds
and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.” vs. 6
When we hurt, we become numb to other things in life. Hurt consumes us. It takes
our mind off the things we need to focus on to be in health and keep us a good
Ex. Abbey’s injury at UPS. Hurt her wrist that led to hurting her shoulder, which led
to hurting her leg, which led to hurting her hip which led to her hurting her back
which led to her not working this kind of a job again.
Here is another thing about hurt, it is the result of sin. Sin might feel good at the
moment, but eventually we feel the hurt and pain of not following God’s plan.
God takes no pleasure in seeing us hurt and the real deceiving thing about it, is that
sin, which Satan wants us to fall into, causes us hurt and we in turn blame God.
Satan has the ultimate deception going on here.
Ex. The deception that things like cancer, diabetes, heart issues, etc. are caused by
But that is not God’s plan. God’s plan is to preserve and restore. Psalm 36:6 says:
“Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You,
Lord, preserve both people and animals.” Psalm 36:6
Sin entered the world and corrupted things and has caused us hurt ever since. But
God’s desire is to bring restoration and preservation.
Turning the Tide
So where does that leave us? Hopefully not down and hopefully not without hope.
No, there is a sense that the tide needs to be turned. There is an awesome passage
that ends this chapter and it brings hope and promise, not only to Israel but to us as
well. It comes in verses 18-20 and it says:
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land:
20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.
” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
The only thing that can bring real restoration and real preservation is to turn the
tide of sin and know that God’s ways and his plan are the best for us and the thing
we need to move forward in life. That restoration and preservation comes in what
Jesus did for us. God saw the problems we would have and provided the solution
for us through Jesus Christ. Notice what Christ does for us, the sin that is so dark
red, like scarlet and crimson, very dark reds, are made clean, white, white as snow
and as white and pure as wool.
Notice the effort on our part, to be willing and obedient, and not to resist and rebel.
This does not guarantee our country will turn the tide, that this will save our
country. Here is how it does speak to us; that we can have a full restored
relationship with God, that if our country is to turn, it starts with us individually.
The church needs to be the instrument of change not because of what we can do
but because of what Jesus has done for us. That is represented by this table in front
of me and the opportunity and joy we have in celebrating communion this