Isaiah confronts a nation drowning in sin and points out what God sees—Corrupt leadership. Grasping materialism, drunken pleasure-seeking, defiant sinfulness, moral perversion, arrogant conceit, and corrupt leadership. These are the specific sins that God identifies as the reason for the destruction of Israel.
Do they sound vaguely familiar? It wouldn’t be a stretch, would it, to say that we live in a nation that is consumed with its grasping materialism?
Has there ever been a society in the history of the world as materialistic as ours?
Has there ever been a society more given over to pleasure, madness, partying, drunkenness, drugs?
Has there ever been a society more defiant in its sinfulness, quicker to shake its fist in the face of God?
Has there ever been a society more morally perverted where marriage is bad and living together is noble, where a relationship between a man and a woman is only one of many options?
Or telling the truth doesn’t matter, honesty doesn’t matter, virtue doesn’t matter; style matters.
And has there ever been a more arrogant society of people who have more of their own answers for everything?
Has there ever been a culture with more personal opinions given weight and merit?
And certainly, like many other cultures, we have corruption in our leadership, and we find out about it just about every day, don’t we? Another corrupt person who lacks virtue, who lacks integrity, who is dishonest, who is hypocritical, who is immoral; and those are only the ones that we know about.
The prophet, Isaiah confronts a nation drowning in sin and points out to them what God sees. God saw corrupt leadership in Israel, grasping materialism, drunken, pleasure seeking, defiance, sinful, morally perverse, arrogant, conceited, and corrupt leadership. These are the specific sins that God identifies as the reason that Israel is going to be destroyed.
Israel was a dying culture. Do those sins sound vaguely familiar? It wouldn’t be a stretch would it, to say that we live in a nation that’s consumed with grasping materialism? Has there ever been a society in the history of the world as materialistic as ours? Has there ever been a society more given over to pleasure and madness and partying and drunkenness and drugs? Has there ever been a society more defiant in its sinfulness and more quick to shake it fist into the face of God? Telling the truth doesn’t matter anymore, honesty doesn’t matter anymore. Virtue doesn’t matter. It’s style that matters. God says, Israel was a culture that was dying. Today we’re going to see, how timely this second class, God abandoned a nation, how God describes a dying culture, is to us today.
We’re exploring Isaiah, class two is how God described a dying culture. It was the culture of Israel, but the more we study today’s lesson, the more we see we’re talking about exactly the same description, that God says about Israel, is what He is saying about our American culture today. In your Bibles, Isaiah chapter 1, verse 6. If you’re just joining us, if this is your first class you’ve tuned in, of course I encourage you if you make it through this one to go back to zero and learn how to study, and to class one with the broad overview of the whole class. Chapter 1, verse 6 of Isaiah says this, “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; that have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment. Your country,” verse 7, “is desolate, your cities are burned.” This is God describing His chosen people of promise, the nation of Israel. Why would He indict them so severely? That’s what we’re looking at. Why did God abandon His blessing on the people of Israel?
This is only the second class, as you see on the slide, but it’s part of 15 class periods. We’re going to actually explore all of Isaiah. We’ve already seen class one, trustworthy and that Jesus believed Isaiah was true. We need to ask ourselves, do we? Then today abandoned, how does God describe a dying culture?
You can see that we’ll go through prophecy and salvation, even paradise, look at how to daily study the word of God, in the hours ahead.This next slide is something I want to pause on for just a second. You can look up from your slide because all of you that are actually taking this for credit, I say, hello. I can see many of you in my mind sitting there, in that classroom there in East Asia. I just wished that I was eating meals with you and that Bonnie and I were able to spend time with you. On every quiz and on the test for those of you taking this for credit, is going to be a question about how long does it take to read the Bible. Now for a normal sixth grade educated person, you can read the Bible out loud, say it with me, how long, 72 hours. That’s how long it takes for a sixth grader to read the Bible out loud. Can you imagine how much faster it is to read it silently? The book of Isaiah, three hours and 45 minutes. That’s why it’s very hard to cover the fifth largest book in the Bible that takes almost four hours to read in these 15 class periods, but we’re exploring and seeing every key doctrine. Back down at your slides, remember that’s going to be on the quiz, 72 hours.
Let’s go right away, to Isaiah 1, it’s God’s case against Judah.
If you look on your slide you’re looking down over my shoulder at my Bible. I just took my phone and took pictures. The first verse says, “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” So, we have a little tag describing the frame around this book. Then, this part right here that you see that’s actually added by the Bible publishers. It’s like a little, a one-line description of this section. It says, The Wickedness of Judah. You notice in my Bible right here; this is the first major marking you see. “The ox knows its owner…” Verse 3, “…the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider.” At the end of verse 4 right there, they’ve turned away, backward. I’ve already read verse 6 right here, that there’s no soundness.
Then look what happens in verse 8. It says this word vineyard. It says, God considers, and you can look up from your slide for just a minute, God looked on the children of Israel as His own special garden, a vineyard. It describes as you read that, He dug up the ground, took out the stones, planted the vineyard, tends the vineyard, guards it, trims it, ties it, and is waiting for the fruit. That’s a picture of how God looks on His chosen people. How much more does He look on us that way? The Bible in John 15 describes in the words of Jesus Christ, that Christ is the vine and we’re His branches. It’s the same vineyard picture in John 15, a metaphor. It’s saying we’re like God’s vineyard and He wants as He watches us, to see fruit out of our lives.
You notice in verse 9, in the slide, there’s something very significant there. Notice how the Lord talks about Sodom and Gomorrah. The Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18 is the single most ultimate description of judgment in the Bible on a group of people. Sodom and Gomorrah are synonymous with God’s overflowing, wrathful judgment on sinners. God said, that’s my wrath I have toward your sin, Israel. If you think about it, that’s the same sorrow that God has toward us when we sin, as we’ll see as we continue in this lesson.
Back at the slides, as we continue to look at verse 11, the Lord starts questioning why are you going through all the motions? ” The multitude of your sacrifices,” verse 11, “I’ve had enough of burn offerings.”
“When you come…” verse 12, “…to appear before Me, […] to trample my courts?” Verse 13, “don’t bring any more futile sacrifices.” Verse 14, “Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates;” this is God talking about the festivals of Israel. “They are a trouble to me. I am weary of bearing them.” Now look at verse 16, look how the Lord offers hope to them. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good;” Now, notice what that says in verse 16, “before my eyes,” Right there in verse 16. Then it issues into verse 18, ” ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though, your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be white as wool.’ “ What God is saying is that He offered to the children of Israel forgiveness. What’s amazing is that He could say you’re totally sick, remember He said from the top of your head to the sole of your feet you are, and it’s very graphic, putrefying sores. What does He offer them in verse 18? “Let us reason together,” though your sins are red and bright and crimson, they will be as white as snow. God is offering to them forgiveness.
Back down at your slides. We see that proper biblical interpretation demands we understand the context. Now you’re going to hear me say this often, but the first canon or law of textual interpretation is this sentence. What did God mean when He spoke to the original recipients of that portion of scripture. That’s the primary interpretation and thus the historic, geographic, scriptural, grammatical context combined, makes a proper hermeneutic or interpretation.
Now, look up from your slide, what this is saying is that you can’t just take Isaiah and say these terrible words, to me that verse means. Did you know that as the last thing you should say? What you should say is God was communicating such and such to Israel in that time period. Then you say, I can apply that in my life this way, or reveals this truth, or this truth about God. The danger of biblical interpretation is that cults and erratic groups can just open their Bible and they put their finger down and they find a verse and they build a whole doctrine on it without the context. That’s why you’re in this course. What’s the context? What’s the proper frame to put around every verse of the Bible? What does the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us want us to understand, as God’s message He was communicating when He spoke to that original group?
By the way, what was that original group? Isaiah was written between the year 740 and 680 BC. You say how do you know that?
Look back at your slides, let’s go through. Isaiah is outlining God’s expectation for His people living in that time period, that I just told you. We are right here in this very first section of the book. So, the first thing you do with any verse is look at the wider context of what book it’s in. We are in the book of Isaiah. We see that Isaiah actually has two broad divisions. The first 39 chapters and the second 27, the second half is 27 chapters long.
Let’s go to the next slide. Isaiah was written between, and I showed you those dates on the board, but how did we get to that? In chapter 6, verse 1, it says that Uzziah died. He was one of the kings of Israel. We know exactly when that was. Guess what? 740 BC. Then, we read of an event in chapter 37 of Isaiah. We read of the assassination of Sennacherib an Assyrian ruler. We know from history and all the great museums of the world that have artifacts from this man that, that event took place in 680. So, Isaiah’s writing career spans 60 years. There are 60 years of history that are recorded in this book that we’re looking at together.
Now, on the next slide, this is all a part of what I call sacred history. Now, sacred history is this line I want you to think about: Everything happened sometime. There is no event that doesn’t have a timestamp on it, when it has anything to do with history. Look at our prophet Isaiah, right there. Isaiah was a prophet to Judah. Obadiah to Edom. Amos, Hosea, and Joel to Israel and Jonah to Nineveh. Ezekiel and Daniel, we’re in this captivity period. Then you can see all these posts captivity prophets and writers. Now, you see right here on this timeline is where Isaiah is. Isaiah is from 740 till about 680. So, that purple line right there is where he is in the time column.
This is an easier way to look at it. This chart that you see in front of you is the ministry of Isaiah. These are the 60 years now. Assyria was the dominant international power and Isaiah is living during the time of Tiglath, Shalmaneser, Sargon, Sennacherib, and just the tail end of Esarhaddon. Those are the big bullies in the area. Notice the next empire, Babylon, doesn’t start until 45 years after the ministry of Isaiah. Then look here, this is the Persian Empire. Notice how much, even further Persia is. So, the whole purpose of this is, Isaiah is ministering during the time of the Assyrian Empire.
In our next slide, we see Isaiah is a part of the third division of the books of the Bible. All the books of the Bible are either historic books, there’s 17 of them, wisdom or poetic or this very unique kind of literature, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon; they’re very unique in the Bible. The third grouping, and you say where did, by the way look up from the slide, where did these three groupings come from? This is exactly the overview of the Bible Jesus gave in Luke 24. He said that the law, the prophets, and the writings. Jesus saw the Bible in the form that it is come to us through Ezra the scribe, that was recopied by the scribes. That’s the Bible Jesus reaffirmed, the Old Testament Scriptures, but He said that they had three divisions.
Now, look back at the slide. Here are the three divisions.
- The law or the history books. There are 17 of them.
- The writings, which are the poetic, wisdom books. There are five.
- Then the prophets of which there’s 17. There are five major prophets, look at Isaiah right there. Then there are nine pre-exilic and three post exilic.
The next slide is sacred geography, and this is so important to understand what’s going on in the book of Isaiah.
Now, here’s the key to sacred geography. Remember sacred history is, everything happens sometime. What’s geography? Everything happened, what? Somewhere. So, here is the Holy Land as we know it today. This is the Nation of Israel. Now keep going, here is Jerusalem, right here. What’s all this shaded area? This is the Assyrian Empire. Now really quickly, the Red Sea is here. Persian Gulf, you should know about that, it’s in the news all the time, oil tankers going through there. Caspian Sea is up here. Here’s one of the seven churches, right there, Sardis. Here’s the Mediterranean Sea. Now, look what was in this shaded area, Tarsus that’s Paul’s hometown. Haran, by the way that’s where Abraham was from. Nineveh right there, which is called Mosul today, that’s where Jonah went. Susa, you think of Queen Esther and Mordecai. Babylon, Daniel was taken there and so was Ezekiel. Ur, is where Abraham was from and he went from Ur, followed this river here, and settled in Haran before he came down here, to the promised land. This of course is Egypt, Memphis, Tanis, and Thebes. So, look what Assyria had taken over. Assyria had conquered Egypt. Assyria had conquered all this area in the fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates, and it had most of all conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. So, that is very much a backdrop.
There are seven great empires that the Bible reflects in the ancient world,
- The Egyptians – out of which Israel came, in the Exodus in 1446 BC.
- The Hittites we hear about them and their chariots and scaring the children of Israel. Of course, Uriah the Hittite.
- Now, we’re looking at the Assyrians.
- We know the Babylonians come.
- Then the Medo-Persian Empire with the handwriting on the wall.
- Alexander the great sweeps through.
- Then of course the New Testament world, the Roman empire.
That’s just a quick overview of history.
In the next slide we’re going to go back to Isaiah 2. So, open your Bibles to Isaiah 2 and on the screen in front of you, it’s a real quick picture of my Bible. In that, we’re going to start walking through some of the key scriptures about God’s way versus man’s way. Now, as we look at the book of Isaiah, we’re going to keep seeing elements that are so important to understand. Isaiah is vital because Isaiah is used all the way through, in 23 of the 27 New Testament books. Isaiah is vital because it describes salvation. With the key passage as Isaiah 53. Isaiah alone covers the virgin birth of Christ. Isaiah alone tells us about the furthest events, from the fall of Satan to the beginning of Heaven. Isaiah gives us one of the most profound presentations of theology proper. The most powerful presentation of the Trinity, with that most important chapter, Isaiah 53. Explains to us biblical prophecy.
So, look down at chapter 2, because in chapter 2, we have introduced biblical prophecy. Now you notice, that the Bible publishers have added right here, this little note. I put a little gold ring around those in my Bible to remind me those are not part of the Bible; those are just suggestions. What they’re talking about is what verses 1 and 2 say. You follow along, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. Now it shall come to pass,” look at this, “in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.” Now, look up from your Bibles, that’s a prophecy. You know what that’s saying? That is saying, that in the future, in these latter days, Jerusalem is going to be the center of the world.
You say I read it too quick, I didn’t see that. Go back, look back at your slide. It shall be in the latter days. Look at the end of verse 2, that all nations shall flow into it. “Many people,” verse 3, “shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Look up for a second, this is an example of how in the scriptures the prophets have a near and far view of all the events of the scripture.
Now, look down at the slides for a second. I’m going to give you a graphic, it’s so much better than anything that I could draw up here on my Blackboard. This is the Old Testament prophet right there; you see him standing. What we just read in chapter 2 was him looking at a time in the future, when there’s going to be a temple in Jerusalem that the whole world goes to. He sees that, he’s standing there, and he’s looking at that. He also, that’s in chapter 2 that he sees this, but in chapter 53 he sees this, to him standing there, because these mountains are in the distance, the mountain of Christ death on the cross, and then this mountain of Christ’s second coming and return that chapter 24 is about, and then this millennial temple, this future temple, and then he goes even into Heaven. What doesn’t he see? He doesn’t see how long it’s going to be from where he is, to Christ right here. He doesn’t see what we’re in right now, this is called, this valley here is the church age. So, this is the prophet. This is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This is where we are now. Here’s the antichrist, the tribulation, the second coming, the millennium and Heaven. These mountain peaks of prophecy mean the prophets couldn’t differentiate the timing of the coming of Christ, they didn’t even know about the church age. In fact, they could only see the high, top parts. See those three mountains? Christ here, the second coming and looking at the millennium.
Let’s go back to chapter 2. Look at that slide. The next thing we see, and by the way, when is the latter days? In verse 2, the latter days? If you want to look this up in Acts 2 and in Hebrews 1, it says the last days began with the work of Christ on the cross. So, you can look up from your slide for a second. We’re in the latter days because it says, and I’ll read it to you, Hebrews chapter 1, and people ask you this all the time, so you might as well know what to tell them. The simplest one is in chapter 1 of the book of Hebrews, and it says this starting in verse 1, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” When is the last day period? When did it begin? It began at the cross. The cross began the countdown, the first coming of Christ began the countdown for the return, the second coming of Christ and His setting up His kingdom. So, we’re in the last days. So, what we can say is here is Isaiah, he saw Christ’s first coming; His first, what we call advent or coming, and he also saw the second coming and he also saw Heaven. That’s what Isaiah 65 and 66 are about. So, Isaiah saw all of them. Just like here’s a mountain, here’s a mountain, and there is a big mountain. He saw them boop, boop, boop, boop but he didn’t see how long it was between them. So, the Bible says the last days started here and you know what? We’re somewhere between. We’re over here somewhere, close to this one. So, if the last days were starting in the first century, we’re in the last of last days.
Back to the slide, look at this slide because something is introduced here. It says in verse 12, “For the day of the LORD of the hosts.” Now that phrase, day of the Lord, appeared 19 times in the Old Testament, 19 times. Day of the Lord is another word for, and look up at the board here at my drawing, this is called the day of the Lord, the second coming. That’s what, 19 times, the Old Testament prophets call the second coming of Christ, the day of the Lord. It’s introduced to us right here in the book of Isaiah. So, look back at the slides, the day of the Lord.
Now, look up here at verse 5, because this is going to introduce what this whole section of Isaiah’s about. It’s the beginning of Isaiah describing what’s going on in Israel, that’s making them sick. Do you remember in chapter 1, it said they were sick from the top of their head to the sole of their feet. It says in verse 6, because they’re filled with eastern ways. That’s new age, eastern religions. The soothsayers of the occult. I’ve written all these in my Bible, the new age, the occult. They are married to the children of foreigners, that’s compromised. Their land is also full of silver and gold, that’s materialism. There’s no end to their treasures, they’re greedy. They’re full of horses and chariots and idols. There’s false worship and all this. They worshiped the work of their own hands verse 8, that’s their trophies. They’re worshiping their own trophies. Look at verse 10, “Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust, from the terror of the LORD.”
Now, let’s keep going. Here we go, remember these mountain peaks of prophecy? Verse 13 says, “Upon all the cedars of Lebanon,” “The oaks of Bashan,” this is just localizing geography. The ships of Tarshish, remember that was most likely Spain, at the other end of the Mediterranean. “The loftiness of man shall be bowed down.” Now see the Lord’s talking about an event coming. “When the LORD alone will be exalted.” This is the day of the Lord. Look what it says right here in verse 19. The reason I’m taking so long to get here is, this is a demonstration of how important Isaiah is to the rest of the Bible. It says, “They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the Earth, from the terror of the LORD, and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the Earth mightily.” Verse 20, “In that day a man will cast away his idols,” and he’ll go into, verse 21, “the clefts of the rock[…] from the,” do you see that word again? The terror. “When He arises to shake the Earth mightily.” Now, look up from the slides and let me take you to Revelation 6. What’s amazing is this is a direct quotation, Revelation 6:16, which says. “And said to the mountains and rocks, ‘fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’ “ Look back at this slide, do you see what I wrote right there? Revelation 6:16, that I just read to you. That is an amazing correspondence to the coming day of the Lord.
The next slide. We’re going to move over into chapter 3. So, we’ve done chapter 1 and chapter 2.
Now, in chapter 3, God says judgment is coming and you can see, He talks about all their sins. Then He says, way over here, in verse 16, He says, “because the daughters of Zion are haughty, they walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes.” Now, look up from the slide and let me show you something. God is observing our behavior, our attitudes, our conduct. It’s like all of our life is lived on a stage, with God as the audience and we’re the actors. It’s amazing. The closest way, that as a young person, this kind of reverberated in my mind was one day when I was sitting in front of my ant farm. Do you know what an ant farm is? It’s a piece of plastic or glass that’s real thin, has dirt inside, has a top and a bottom so that the ants can’t get out. You go out into your yard and you dig up an anthill and you dump them in there. Pretty soon you can see, they make their little houses and their tunnels, and they’re laying eggs down there. Of course, you have to feed them, but they’re always coming up and getting food and hiding it down there. Those ants live their entire life in this thin ant farm, where I could see every one of them, but they never saw me. I would do all kinds of stuff. I would go like this, they didn’t stop. I would even tap, and they would go away from the sound, but they never seem to notice me. They just lived in the ant farm. Life is like an ant farm and we’re living right in front of the face of God, He sees. Look back at the slide. He sees how we walk with outstretched necks and wonton eyes, walking in mincing ways as they go. Therefore, verse 17, the Lord responds, and you can read that, chapter 3.
Let’s go to the next one. Chapter 4 is a vision of the coming Kingdom. What I want you to do is, walk with me through chapter 4, because we’re going to see one of the first unique descriptors of Jesus Christ.
That is here in the next slide. It says, “And in that day,” this is the coming day of judgment, “seven women will take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; just let us be called by your name, take away our reproach.” He’s saying such a hard time, this judgment, is coming. Now, look though at verse 2, in my Bible, “In that day,” what’s this, “the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the Earth should be excellent and appealing.” This branch term is a very beautiful Old Testament insight into Jesus Christ our Savior.
Look at the next slide, here it is. This is an overview of what the Old Testament teaches about Jesus. Isaiah 4:2 is what we just read, and He’s called the Branch of the Lord. In Zachariah, He’s called the Branch who is a man. In Zachariah, chapter 3, He’s called the Branch who is a servant. So, see the Branch who is the Lord, the Branch who is the man, the Branch who is the servant, and then a Branch who’s out of the stem of Jesse. What’s interesting is, look in the right-hand column. There are four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that portray the life of Jesus. John portrays Him as Jesus the son of God, like the Branch of the Lord. Luke talks about Him as the perfect man, like the Branch who is a man. Mark talks about Him as a servant, like the Branch who is a servant. Matthew sees Him as a son of David, king of the Jews, like the branch who’s a rod from the stem of Jesse.
Now, look up from your slides for a second. Did you know that the Old Testament, just like I showed you in this branch slide has many looks ahead? Remember this, Isaiah was looking at this branch, but he didn’t know what he was writing about. You say, how do you know he didn’t know? Because Peter tells us that. Peter says that the Old Testament prophets were searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, signified. They didn’t understand. Do you know what also the scriptures tell us? The angels didn’t understand. The angels desired to look into this. You see, you and I who have this complete revelation of God, the entire Bible in our hands, have the revelation of God that the Old Testament prophets didn’t understand what they were writing and even the angels didn’t understand what was happening.
Now, in these last days, we know exactly what God’s doing. We know His plan, the archeological proof, the purpose of prophecy, all of these things that are revealed in Isaiah, we understand. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has come to live inside of us, and He anoints us first. John 2 says, so that we understand the scriptures. I have a little question for you. Do you read the scriptures every day? Do you let the word of God cleanse and sanctify your mind? Do you let the Holy Spirit open His truth to you? I hope so. That’s the purpose of this course.
As we’re talking about that, I would like to share with you something that I mentioned in each class, period. This is the Bible that I take with me everywhere I go. This is the MacArthur study Bible. These are Bible tabs. For those of you that are new, that can’t find books of the Bible, if you buy these Bible tabs, you just stick them on the edges here, and you can find every book of the Bible rapidly as I’m telling you turn here and here, if you get this. You say what’s the purpose of this Bible that you have? This is a study Bible. You notice the Bible text is right here but look at the middle of this page. From here down are notes in this Bible written by Dr. John MacArthur and the faculty of the Master’s Seminary. I’m kind of excited, I was on faculty at the Master’s Seminary, I was there when they wrote this, or when we were preparing the manuscript, helping John with it. I even contributed from the part I taught at the Master’s Seminary. The reason I love this Bible is it is the most consistent presentation of every doctrine, every theme, and it answers every single question about hard verses in the Bible. There are 25,000 notes in this study Bible for the 31,000 verses. So, there’s almost one note for every verse in the Bible. So, what I would encourage you to do is, if you’re serious about understanding the Bible, I love teaching courses like this, but for you as you go through the scriptures, if you would have a Bible like this and if you read each footnote and all the introductions, it’s equivalent to two solid years in seminary. That’s how much theology you would learn, so I encourage you. By the way, I take that Bible with me in my cell phone internationally. I don’t take it on the plane because it weighs three pounds and you only can have 17-pound carry ons, on international flights. I take that three-pound Bible, a digital copy, in my cell phone.
Looking back down to slides, we’re going to finish up our class today in Isaiah 5, where Israel is called the Lord’s vineyard. Now, you notice what I mean by that, chapter 5 verse 1, see vineyard, vineyard. Verse 2, a tower in the midst of the vineyard with a wine press. Verse 4, a vineyard. Verse 5, a vineyard.
Keep going to a verse 8, this you notice, I wrote up here. This right up here, in the top nine facets of an unholy or what I call a dying culture. Now, look up for a second. What the Lord does in Isaiah 5 is, He talks about when God says a culture is so bad, He’s not going to let them continue as a nation, a group of people living together. Their culture becomes so decadent and sinful, God says enough is enough. What are the elements? How does God describe it? See, that’s what this whole class is about, hour two, how does God describe a dying culture?
Look back at the slide. There are nine ways He describes them, and I’ve marked them for you. Number one, He says that they are greedy in verses 8-10, greedy for material things. They join houses together. There’s no place where people can “dwell alone in the midst of the land.” This is overdevelopment, materialism, greed. That’s the first thing.
Verse 11, He says, not only are they greedy, overdeveloped, and materialistic – number one, but secondly, they’re addicted. Verse 11, they rise early in the morning, they follow intoxicating drink. So, number one, greedy. Number two, addicted.
Number three, they’re living these amused lives. They do not regard the work of the Lord. They don’t consider the operation of His hands. They’re not paying attention. See, I wrote down here, that’s what the New American Bible, that’s a little note to myself that the New American Standard translation puts it, not pay attention.
Then look over here at verse 13, they have no knowledge. They’ve gone into captivity because they have no knowledge. In other words, what that is, see right here, ignorance of God. That’s the fourth sin. They’re greedy, they’re addicted, they’re amused, they’re ignorant of God.
Then the worst one is right here. Look at this, “woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as if with a cart rope.” Now look up, this is graphic. Remember, I just said in a previous chapter that God watched, like the ant farm. He’s still watching, and He said, these people are going through life with a cart behind them. They’re pulling this load of sins, blatant sins. Inequity, with cords of vanity and sins with a cart rope.
Next slide, here is their continuation, we’re getting to the six of the nine sins. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Do you know what this is? Relativism, lying. They change, they say that’s not evil, it’s good. That’s not good, that’s evil. Do you know what we’re seeing in our culture today? This relativistic, no absolute, redefining everything against the holiness of God, for the promotion of sin. It’s not new, it was part of Israel’s culture as they were dying, before the Lord abandoned them and destroyed them and sent them into captivity. He says, I’ll not destroy you completely, I’ll bring you back, but why did they die as a culture? Because of these sins because they were greedy and addicted and amused and ignorant and blatant and liars.
Look at verse 21, “Woe, to those who are wise in their own eyes,” this is pride. They’re “prudent in their own sight!” Do you notice I wrote, I’m proud, elite, arrogant? All the elements of pride were so evident.
Here’s the next one in verse 22, “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink.” You know what I wrote in my margin? They had bad heroes. The mighty people of their culture, like their stars, were stars at sin and they were their heroes. Sounds like our culture.
And look at verse 23, “Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice…” There was injustice in their culture.
Think about this, the whole book of Isaiah is about salvation. See, salvation described the most important chapter. The whole book is the single, in all of the Old Testament, the single greatest source of knowledge about salvation. God is appealing to the people He transformed. He explains they can impact a culture no matter when in history we live. God has always had this powerful salvation He wants to unleash, even in a culture this bad.
How bad was it? Look back at your slides. How does God describe an ungodly culture? When a nation abandoned God, this is what they look like.
Number one, what happens when a nation with a long and deep biblical heritage turns its back on God? That’s what we already read in Isaiah 1 verses 3-6 and 11- 14.
Number two. What does God’s word prescribe for when a nation that formerly honored Him, slips into Eastern mysticism? We read that; do you remember new age errors? That was in Isaiah 2, that we already covered.
Number three. What does God’s word prescribe when a formerly God honoring nation chooses the pathway of greedy overdevelopment of its land? That’s what went on in Israel, in Isaiah 5:8.
Number four, what has God prescribed when a nation that formerly revered God’s word becomes a place where truth is replaced with lies, and absolutes with relativism? Chapter 5, verse 20.
Number five. What does God’s word prescribe when a nation that was built on the moral law of God, now think about that… built upon the moral of God, descends into a place where injustice toward the poor and the helpless reigns. That’s what verse 23 says.
Now think about this, doesn’t that eerily really sound like the current moral condition? Look up from your slide and think about that. Look out the window, look at the news, read what’s going on. Doesn’t that sound like the current moral condition of the United States of America. The similarity is eerie, but actually every one of those five questions are behind what God was asking Israel way back here in this time period, from 740 to 680. God was saying you were my chosen people of promise. Your lives and your nation were built on the moral law of God and you rejected it. You abandoned me, so I’m going to abandon you. I really believe we’re living through the death throes of the United States of America.
As you sit with Isaiah open before you, could I ask you a quick question? Why would we, a New Testament era, church age, time of grace, believer turn back to the Old Testament and start there as we study the importance of salvation? Why would we do that? This is why, look at the next slide.
The eerie similarities remind us that this is how God describes a dying culture. Isaiah confronted a nation drowning in sin and points out what God’s saw. Corrupt leadership, grasping materialism, drunken pleasure, seeking defiance, sinfulness. Now, look up and think with me. We see the clearest picture of how God wants to reach a dying culture, as we see described, the culture of Israel that so mirrors our culture.
So, that takes us to the last slide, looked down. How does God describe a dying culture? He describes it like we just read. So, the question is, how does God want to reach a dying culture? Isaiah, 1-5 describes it, Isaiah chapter 6 tells us. You can look up from your slides. Our next hour is probably the most important hour. The groundwork is, what does the dying culture look like? Chapter 1-5. But Isaiah chapter 6 explains how God can unleash any believer who will consecrate their life back to Him. How He can use them to go into all the world and declare the power of God. I hope for every one of you that are watching this, that are listening to this, every one of you Bible Institute students, I hope that there’s nothing you want more in the world than to be consecrated as Isaiah 6 describes, so that you can reach the dying culture that surrounds you. Just like Isaiah reached the dying culture that surrounded him.
Let’s bow for word of prayer.
Father in Heaven, I thank you for the power of your word. It’s just so amazing. We can read a 2,600-year-old book that describes 2020. I can’t believe how similar Israel back then is to America today. I believe that people are the same, that each of us are the same, that each of us want you’re consecrating power, just like Isaiah. I pray that you would open our eyes to behold wonderful things from your word. That you’d begin us meditating and devoting ourselves to understanding your word, so we can share your truth and that we could see the miracle of lives being changed by the gospel through us as your instruments. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. And all of God’s people said, Amen.