Isaiah, Paul of the Old Testament (7 of 10)
Focus Text: Isaiah 1.2-7
Personal integrity cannot exist without a great spirit of conscientiousness; Isaiah possessed both of these qualities in great abundance. His desire to see men come to the LORD and be obedient to Him was not an artificial desire parroted by a mime; it was a heartfelt message rooted in his love for God and love for his fellowman. What else would prompt a man to speak with such candor, fervor, and with such perpetual hope and freshness? We will briefly note Isaiah’s integrity and his conscientious spirit in today’s message.
Isaiah’s ministry to his beloved countrymen started this way: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.’ Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward. Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment. Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.” (Isaiah 1.2-7)
Isaiah was not mean-spirited for saying these things; he was a man of faith who knew God’s demands and the personal and national consequences for failing to follow His covenant. He was a man who knew that he had a responsibility to speak truth and to warn of real and imminent dangers. He was a man who knew that his own righteousness was at risk should he fail to warn others as he had been directed of God. Isaiah was a man who wanted with all his heart to see Israel (as well as other nations when the time was right) to come to God. Isaiah was a man who had great hope that the truth would break through to people, even if the breakthrough was just to one heart at a time. His conscientious spirit compelled him to preach in order to save himself and also to save those who heard him.
Hirelings do not act as Isaiah acted; they preach the doctrines that offend few, appeal to the masses, and result in personal gains for their proponents. Isaiah had nothing to gain materially by preaching as he preached; in fact he had everything to lose! He did not become a national idol but his name became a byword due to his strict adherence to truth and his expectations that others would treat God’s law with the same respect. As someone has correctly observed: There is all the difference in the world between a man who has to say something and a man who has something to say! Isaiah was a man who had something to say!
There simply is no substitute for personal integrity and the conscientious proclamation of truth. Isaiah was and is a model of these two traits. Would to God that all men who stand behind the lecterns of this world would have and demonstrate that same allegiance to God and to truth!
1. What is a hireling? What traits did Isaiah possess that indicated he was not a hireling?
2. Why would Isaiah deliver such a stern and candid message as was contained in the focus text?
3. From your knowledge of Isaiah, whom did he want to be saved?
4. What can you and I do to encourage men of integrity to fill our pulpits? What can we do to dissuade those who lack integrity from filling our pulpits?
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