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God chose Israel to be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:1-2). He describes Israel as a vineyard in which He has highly invested (Isaiah 5:1-2). They have instead, ruined themselves for any usefulness, “What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?” (5:4); “He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry for help” (5:7). Therefore, God promises to dismantle them as a nation (5:5-6). It is into this cultural mess that Isaiah’s prophetic ministry begins.
Before the prophet Isaiah encounters the LORD in a majestic vision he addresses the decaying culture around him:
Moral decay thrive and fill the vacuum left when God’s people abandon His Word, “But they do not regard the work of the LORD or the operation of HIs hands (5:12); “Because they have no knowledge” (5:13); “Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (5:24).
It is only after Isaiah encounters God, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (6:1), that he begins with the real problem—that of personal sin, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my years have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (6:5). Moral decay must be seen individually before it can be addressed communally.
Only after Isaiah encounters the LORD and experiences cleansing personally is he ready and equipped to address the issues in the culture around him, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live cola which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged” (6:7). On the basis of this cleansing, Isaiah proclaims judgment tinged with hope—hope in a coming Messiah Who will bring cleansing to the heart and then to the nations.
Beginning in chapter 10 Isaiah assesses the cultural brokenness of Israel and promises God’s judgment to the nations (10:1, 5; 17:12; 18:1; 24:16; 28:1; 29:1, 15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1; 45:9,10).
Isaiah demonstrates the need of the day in which we live:
Such people are then ready to address the sin in culture, not with a self-righteous attitude, but with humble boldness. We will not realize who we are until we see Who He Is. And, they will not see who He is until we experience Him anew.