Isaiah Lesson 3: “Ever Hearing, Never Understanding” Isaiah 6-9 Pastor Barry Bruce
The Revelation of God Romans 1:18-20, Psalm 53:1-3
It is important for us to know that God is, as the angel’s cried, “Holy, Holy, Holy! (Isaiah 6:3) In other words He is righteous (sinless). God is also absolutely just. In other words He is morally right and fair; therefore, when God brings judgment that judgment must be absolutely right and fair. One might think that for a judgment (punishment) to be fair there must be proof that one had purposely ignored instructions that were well provided and made clear. Not so in our American court system. There is one simple concept that law students learn in their very first weeks of criminal law class: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. This principle means that when an individual violates the law, it doesn’t matter whether or not they knew what the law said. If it’s a crime, and they are found to have committed the elements of that crime, they are guilty and therefore worthy of judgment. Where there might be some confusion in the fairness of our American legal system, God has left no such confusion. God has made Himself and His law fully known (Romans 1:18-20). To the one who says, “prove that there is a God,” we can reply “prove that there is no God.”
God has revealed Himself through what theologians call General Revelation and Special Revelation:
General Revelation is God revealing Himself to all mankind through 1.]creation (nature), 2.] history (the recorded history of the Jewish nation revealed in both biblical and secular [extra biblical] history) and 3.] man’s conscience. Although General Revelation is not enough to bring salvation to man, it is certainly enough to cause one to take notice of the fact that there is a God who is vastly more intelligent than us, who has been actively working among mankind throughout history, and has placed a moral compass within every man, of every race and of every culture. Yes, we all have a general sense of right and wrong.
Special Revelation is God revealing Himself through 1.] His Word (the Bible), 2.] His prophets and 3.] Jesus Christ. Any man who would honestly search to find this one true God, because of the General Revelation that is common to all, would ultimately be led to Christ in his search. God has prepared it that way. Contrary to popular belief, all roads (faiths) do not lead to God. Only the honest searcher will find the true “road” and that “road” will lead to Christ who alone said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:6 (Jesus)
Without these revelations we would know nothing of God, but through these revelations He has left us with no excuse to deny His existence, transgress His laws, or reject His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
A Difficult Call Isaiah 6:8-13, Matthew 13:10-14, 16-17, John 1:4-5,11-12, Matthew 10:32-39
And so, with all of this in mind, let us understand why Isaiah was called by God to the life-long ministry of bringing God’s warnings to a bunch of people (Judah) who would not listen.
Isaiah would become the voice of God’s “well provided and clear instructions” to a rebellious nation. Isaiah would prove for all of history that God’s wrath and judgment on Judah was well deserved and just. In the same way, the true church has been the voice of God to the rebellious nation and people of America. God’s wrath is sure to come here too.
God told Isaiah that Judah would be “ever hearing, but never understanding”, and that Isaiah’s prophecies would “Make the heart of the people calloused (unfeeling and unresponsive)”, “until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant” and only the “holy seed” will be the “stump” left in the land. That “Holy seed” was He who came through the line of Judah, Jesus the Christ—Immanuel. (God with us)
Over 700 years later this Jesus answered his disciples question about why He spoke in parables with a direct quote from Isaiah. Jesus spoke in parables so that only those who were truly seeking for God would take the time to hear what He was saying. Others would simply be annoyed and become more calloused and without excuse of God’s punishment.
God is looking for, and has always searched for, those who truly want to know Him and are willing to carry whatever cross (burden) is needed to hold on to that truth.
The Sign of Immanuel (Isaiah 7-9) Isaiah 7:9b-17, 8: 1-4, 13-14, 9:1-3, 6-7, 14-17 Ephesians 6:10-11
In chapter 7 Isaiah confronts king Ahaz who has lost faith in God’s ability to defend Judah from its enemies. Isaiah bids Ahaz to “stand firm” in his faith. The Lord even gives Ahaz the opportunity to ask Him for any sign to confirm His promise to the king, but Ahab refused. He had actually already made an unholy alliance with the Assyrians to fight against his enemies. Those Assyrians would actually come to rule Judah. King Ahab said that he would not test the Lord, but in fact he had already done so by loosing faith and siding with godless people. (i.e. America’s Iran Deal?) Isaiah prophecies against him in 7:13-17.
It was a double prophecy of future events: Firstly that the virgin (lit. Almah: the Maiden/ Isaiah’s second wife (a prophetess) would bear a son called “Immanuel” (God with us/ Isaiah’s son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz: Isaiah 8:1-4) and that before he was of the age of “knowing wrong and right” Assyria would indeed crush Ahab’s dreaded enemies, but would later subdue Judah and lay it waste. Secondly this prophecy was fulfilled in the true virgin, Mary, giving birth to the true “Immanuel”—Jesus. (The “stump” of Judah and also the “stone, rock, trap and snare” for a rebellious Jerusalem: Isaiah 8:13-14) Isaiah tells Ahaz that his children and he are signs from God (Isaiah 8:18). He also prophecies that one day the faithful will see God return (in Christ) to the places destroyed by His wrath (Isaiah 9:1-3, 6-7). Sadly, before that day, judgment would come to a rebellious people (Isaiah 9:14-17) and likewise it will come to a rebellious world before His second coming, but “Stand firm!”