Reading: Isaiah 1:1-10
Personally I think this book starts off with a bang. It reminds me of the way the Beginning is represented: God spoke, but there everything He spoke, became material substance and it was good and perfect. Fast forward a couple of millennia and you hear God speaking through Isaiah reminding us that He had chosen for Himself a people; children whom He reared but they have gone astray and rebelled against Him. He says they are dumber than oxen because an ox knows his master but these people of His don’t know who their real master is. They have made themselves subject to all sorts of masters. As the chapter progresses, we see an allusion to religious masters that God didn’t appoint over them, but whom they followed diligently. We see an allusion to the world’s ways that have infiltrated the ranks of His people. He continues by saying that they are dumber than donkeys, because even a donkey knows where he can go to be fed by his master. These people don’t know the top from the bottom. They have forgotten who it is that can feed them spiritually. They have gone astray in following all sorts of formulas and techniques that get peddled as religion; man-made ideas that get passed off as commands from God.
He says they are a sinful people who have become laden with guilt. A burden, it appears, they don’t mind carrying around. They have become a brood of evil doers. Reminds one of the words of Jesus in Matthew 23 when He addressed the hypocrites –the church leaders of His day. In Matthew 12 He also calls them a brood of vipers. He says this because they have given themselves over to corruption. In doing that, they have forsaken God. They spurn[U1] ed[U2] Him and turned their backs on Him.
But the result of this action of theirs resulted in them being enslaved by an oppressive master (for there can only be two –God or His enemy and the Bible commands that we choose between the two). As we read in Romans 6:16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey –whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” While persisting in their rebellion against God they have suffered from an injured head (logical thinking is marred) and their hearts are afflicted (emotional torment and lack of peace and contentment). In fact, their entire bodies are damaged. Nothing is healthy. There are only wounds and welts[U3] and untended open sores. They are abhorrent and in suffering. Yet, they insist of rebelling against God.
Not only did they suffer physical and mental harm, their country has suffered because of their rebellion too. Their cities are destroyed. Their agricultural efforts only benefit outsiders, while they look on helplessly. Their livelihood is overthrown by strangers. The picture painted in verse 8 about a shelter in a vineyard and a field of melons, like a city under siege, is summarized as follows by Albert Barnes’ Note on the Bible: “The essential idea, whatever translation is adopted, is that of the solitude, loneliness, and temporary continuance of even Jerusalem, while all around was involved in desolation and ruin”. The word melon [U4] in the NIV, is interpreted differently by other scholars and commentators. They believe it to be “cucumber”, but I believe we should focus more on the essential idea. Unless God has left a remnant, as Paul refers to in the book of Romans, His people would have been utterly destroyed as were the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
From here onwards there is a turn in the way God addresses His people: He calls them rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah. In other words, the leaders of His people have become well-skilled in the deceptive ways of Sodom to gain what they want and their followers along with them have ceased to care about God’s word. They are commanded by God to listen to His law once again.
[U2]In Hebrew: נאץ
1) to spurn, contemn, despise, abhor
1a) (Qal) to spurn, contemn
1b1) to spurn
1b2) to cause to contemn
1c) (Hiphil) to spurn
1d) (Hithpolel) to be contemned
(The word contemn means to look down on and to treat or view somebody with contempt. It is an archaic word).
A primitive root; to scorn; or (Ecc_12:5) by interchange for H5132, to bloom: – abhor, (give occasion to) blaspheme, contemn, despise, flourish, X great, provoke.
(Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)
1. Ridge on the skin that is raised or a bump on the skin that is caused by a lash from a whip, a scratch, or a similar blow.
2. Lash from a whip causing a ridge
3. Strip sewn into a shoe, leather or other material that is sewn into a show or boot between the upper and the sole in order to strengthen the seam.
4. Reinforcement for seam consisting of a folded strip of cloth, sometimes wrapped around a cord, that is sewn into a seam in a garment or pillow as a reinforcement or decoration.
Welt (transitive verb):
1. Beat somebody severely, especially with a whip or switch
2. Raise small ridges on the skin or bumps as a result of a lash from a whip or switch.
3. Stitch something or supply something with a strip of material as a reinforcement or decoration.
Denominative from H7180; literally a cucumbered field, that is, a cucumber patch: – garden of cucumbers.
(Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
1) place or field of cucumbers
(Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew Definitions)