Journey Through The Scriptures

Isaiah I

Lesson 1: Judgment and Purging

(Scripture to Read: Isaiah 1:14:6)

The prophet Isaiah is widely considered to be the greatest of the so-called writing prophets—that is, those prophets whose messages were written down and preserved in Scripture. Isaiah was evidently from a prominent family, given his ready access to the royal court in Jerusalem during the reigns of the kings under whom he served (1:1). Isaiah also ministered during one of the most critical periods of Israel’s history, from about 740–680 BCE. Thus he both prophesied and witnessed the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel when it was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 and its people led into exile. Isaiah prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah, but the disaster in the north, and the warning it held for Judah, was an important part of his message.

Bible commentators have used glowing adjectives to describe the beauty and power of Isaiah’s writings. But he was a prophet first and foremost, with an unsparing message of judgment and a call to repentance for God’s people. These early chapters reveal the prophet’s unflinching purpose to expose the corruption that characterized Judah in his day. Like a skilled physician, Isaiah opened the moral and spiritual wounds of his people so these wounds could be cleansed, bound up, and healed. The situation in Judah was desperate. First, the armies of Assyria that had overrun the northern kingdom were marching on Jerusalem. Second, and more important, the God of Israel was displeased with His people, even rejecting their sacrifices. Nothing less than a thorough purging and repentance would prevent His severe judgment.

Study Questions

  1. Why did God tell the people of Judah to “stop bringing” (1:13) the sacrifices and offerings prescribed in the Law (Hint: Read 1 Samuel 15:2223)?
  2. What choice did God offer the rebellious people of Judah (1:1920)?
  3. What promise did God make to Judah in the midst of her judgment (1:2427)?
  4. What glorious future is pictured in Isaiah 2:14 and 4:26?
  5. What image of Himself does God present to the people of Judah in Isaiah 3:1315?

Something to Think About

Most of us have an Isaiah-type of person in our lives—someone who tells us the truth even when it is painful to hear! It takes courage for a friend to tell us the truth and warn us of perils ahead, and we would do well to thank the Lord for giving us someone who cares this deeply about us.