Have you ever consulted an expert to help you with an issue you are completely helpless to solve yourself, only to find the expert is just as clueless as you are? It's extremely frustrating. Someone who calls himself a bricklayer should know how to lay bricks. Someone who calls himself a dentist should know his way around a cavity, and those who call themselves children of God should know who He is and what His word has to say.
1 Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.
2 For they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; The Lord of hosts is his name.
Now hear this! God chose the nation of Israel to demonstrate His plan of salvation and to bring the Messiah. They are called “God’s chosen people.” They are Israel, which means literally that “they wrestle with God” because of their ancestor Jacob’s encounter with the angel at Bethel. However, what they were called and what they actually were differed greatly. They made promises using God’s name as security. They swore using the name of His temple. They spoke of God, but in truth, they were far from Him. God expected righteousness, or right behavior, lined up with the truth because they had been given the law. They called themselves the holy city, but it wasn’t an outward show of righteousness or using the right words that would impress God. He sees into the heart, and He called them out for their empty religion and hypocrisy.
3 I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass.
Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;
Four hundred years before they were made slaves in Egypt, God spoke to Abraham and told them that it would happen and also that He would send deliverance. When Solomon dedicated the temple to the worship of God during the wealthiest and safest time in the nation’s history, God revealed to Him that there would be times of judgment and captivity because of their sin but that He would be faithful to hear the prayers of the repentant. Isaiah is given the prophecies of the destruction of the nation and captivity hundreds of years before it takes place.
That is the meaning of verse three. God is not surprised at the way the nation has turned its heart away from Him. He is not surprised by their stubbornness, idolatry, and depravity. He had already told them that it would happen and what to do about it when it did. God knows the very intent of an individual’s heart and mind. There is nothing hidden from God. He knows our flaws, even the ones we so carefully hide from others. We are self-willed, willingly ignorant, stubborn, headstrong, and hard to change. David said:
The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.(Psalm 25: -10)
Isaiah is not speaking to meek and humble people, and our generation is most certainly more guilty than they were. I say that because we are living on the other side of the cross. The Son of God has already come and given His life on the cross. He’s already been resurrected and glorified; He has already gifted believers with the Holy Spirit. We should know better than to live in secret rebellion against the God who has given everything to show His love for us. Yet, God wants to fix necks that are like Iron and hard to turn in a different direction. He extends grace and mercy to those who deliberately go their own way.
We should not be torn between two ideas - can we trust God and follow Him, or do we need to follow our own truth?
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10).
I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
God alone has been there from the beginning. He has already spoken on the events that would show them who He is and what He is able to do. How utterly ridiculous to hear God’s word, see His works, and believe that idols made with human hands should get credit for anything. It is unjustifiable to put your trust in temporal and manmade things and ideas, God alone is in control. God’s warning is recorded frequently throughout scripture. The new testament equivalent of Isaiah’s warning is found in II Timothy.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2Timothy 3:1-5).
This really is the purpose of God’s inspired, infallible, Holy word. It is a record that God has given us everything we need to be reconciled to Him. It is a record of how completely corrupt and helpless we are. He told us so that when we are tempted to try to make sense of this world without Him, we will utterly fail.
Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them. Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened:
No one will be able to stand at the judgment and say, we didn’t know how to escape. There will be punishment for rebellion, neglecting the poor, and not seeking Him with their whole hearts. He promised to restore them when their captivity was over. There will be a regathering of His people. There will be a Messiah. He is revealing himself and His plans through the prophets. Is it possible for God to guide them if their hearts are so far from Him? Grace, Grace, Marvelous Grace! It is just a short step of repentance that will bring us back to a right relationship with God. Our witness is important to God. We, too, should declare His wondrous works and His mighty hand. We must beware of how we guide others. We must not become blind guides that draw away from God.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (Matthew 23:24-28).
Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
The last verse in the lesson answers all of our concerns. Despite our failure, our wicked hearts, and our lack of patience, despite our sinful and rebellious nature, His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He loves us despite ourselves. Who is He? He is thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the Lord thy God. Indeed He can guide them and us. He will teach them to profit. And He will lead them in the way that they should go. Oh, that we would humble our hearts and secure our trust in the Redeemer. The Holy One of Israel that paid the price for all of us. He is the Lord our God, and where He leads, it is right to follow.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!