Isaiah 1: A Father's Heart
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Isaiah! OMG – my heart hurts just reading it! I’m guessing that any parent with a child over the age of 16 has felt some of this. Or you are in denial. Or your 'child' has a wet nose and a wagging tail. As I'm reading verses 5 and 6, I'm thinking, “God, were you thinking of (insert child’s name here) when Isaiah said this!?!” His response: “Yes. And you too.”
It’s 740 BCE and the Father is watching His children making all kinds of stupid mistakes. ("Didn’t I teach you better than that?") They are living in the cesspool of their poor choices. (“See, I told you this would happen!”) They are enjoying their brazen rebellion. (“After all I’ve done for you?!?")
I refrained from saying those things to my kids, though they may have picked up on it from facial expressions, stifled groans, and rolling eyes. But Isaiah isn’t holding back! And rightly so. Not only is he is standing in the middle of the mess of it all, he can see what’s coming. It’s scary. His vision of what lies ahead is not just fear or speculation like ours often is; God has given him a virtual window into the future, and it doesn’t look good. He can’t move to Florida to distance himself from the situation, either. He has to go through it with them.
The LORD speaks to the heart of the matter: just going through the motions, showing up for Easter dinner and sending a card on Father’s Day isn’t cutting it. He wants a real relationship.
So He opens a door: “Come now, let’s settle the matter...” He makes a proposal with a promise: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land..." And He warns them of what the world will give them if they refuse His invitation: "but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” verses 18-20
I've known parents who have had to walk through the pain of a son in bondage to drugs, a daughter running from one bad relationship to another, grown children who have money to burn but none to pay the rent. So many rescues, so many relapses. Hopes dashed over and over again. For the sake of their child, there came a time when they said, "No more. You're on your own. My help isn't helping; your circumstances will have to be your teacher." It's excruciating. But it's love.
The Father had an entire nation that refused to turn, so He said, "I will turn My hand against you." It was excruciating, but it was love. Then He gave them a promise: "I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward, you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City." verses 25-26
Isaiah died holding on to that promise. When he died, Israel seemed no closer to their destiny than when he spoke it. But in hope he kept holding on. In pain, he continued to proclaim the word the LORD had spoken. As the days and the years rolled on, his vision of how it would come to pass became clearer while its fulfillment seemed further away. More than 700 years passed before the rescue came: Jesus.
We're living in the age of grace now, rescued by Jesus, but waiting. Waiting on another promise from Isaiah: "In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it." Isaiah 2:1 As we fix our eyes on the promise, our vision of how it will come to pass becomes clearer though its fulfillment seems further away. The reason we keep holding on: Jesus.