Isaiah 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Together a city and state are scrutinized. We belong to more than just ourselves. Indeed, God gave us a body to live in, but He also gave us a corporate body to live in. He placed us in a body and in a family. He put us in a city or town. He put us in a state and a country. And, if you are like me, He put you in a spiritual entity as well. This transcendent entity is the Church, the body of Christ or literally speaking, the called out ones.
When God has something to say to the Church or the country or the city or the family, He has something to say to you. What He says is to be taken in context and its meaning contemplated and acted upon for our own good.
This opening verse reveals that a city and state weigh heavy upon God’s heart. When the vision appears to Isaiah, when the doors of heaven are opened and that pure light breaks through to reveal what is there, Isaiah sees Judah and he sees Jerusalem there.
This book is a recorded vision and that vision reveals that God has something to say about the city and the state. They each are to perform prescribed functions. They each answer to God. God created them for our good and His glory.
1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
But what happens when evil men usurp and hijack this power? What then?
Well, Isaiah understands such a plight. While he saw visions from heaven he also had to live on earth under the rule and reign of these 4 kings of Judah. The time span was 30-40+ years. Isaiah saw it all. He endured it all. Each of these kings has a story in itself to tell that is filled with drama and the kind of material that makes up a good movie or series of them. As you read what Isaiah writes you can see what this was like. You can see what trouble they were in. You can hear what God said was the way out.
This is a very timely message for us today because the Word of God speaks to the higher principles of our being and life. The Word of God speaks to the highest order of things; that sphere of being that governs our thoughts and decisions which in turns leads to our actions or lack of them. Isaiah sees a vision, the doors of heaven are open to him and he sees there a city and a state, Judah and Jerusalem. But what God has Isaiah write in stone pertains to matters that transcend two pieces of real estate in the Middle East. These words pertain to any city and state anywhere on the planet in any time period in the sphere of time and space. These are eternal truths about eternal matters. They are timeless and moral in nature. They are for me and they are for you. They are given to Isaiah and his people, but they pertain to all people and all nations.
We have to think and we have to be discerning and we must apply the standard methods of interpretation to historical records, but from that we can see a message that comes close to home. The indictment given to them, we must see that it does not apply to us. The promises given to them, we now have good reasons to seek. Isaiah states the heart of the matter in the briefest of words.
Isaiah 1:19-20 “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
We know God does not show partiality to individuals. He says as much.
Romans 2:9-11 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
Do we think God shows partiality to nations, to states, to cities, to peoples?
I hope now that you do not see that this is a book and a message for “them.” I hope you don’t think that this is for someone else. I hope that you see that it might shine light on our current problems and encourage hope in God for a better day.
Isaiah 1:2a Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth [that’s us!]; for the Lord speaks,
The rest of the chapter and beyond are a good read in this light.