The Human Problem
A daily devotion for February 1st
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
A Rebellious Nation
2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
4 Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.
5 Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
your whole heart afflicted.
6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with olive oil.
7 Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
8 Daughter Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
like a city under siege.
9 Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1:4)
Every breath we breathe is by the mercy of God. Everything comes from his providing hand. But man ignores and turns his back upon all that, and then goes about saying that only man matters. That is incredible blindness. But that is the problem that Isaiah faces here. God analyzes the situation in Israel in one verse, a sevenfold indictment of the nation.
Let us take a closer look at some of God's indictments: First, God says, Israel is a sinful nation. They have been infected with a fatal virus that causes everything they do to turn out wrong. The biblical point of view is that this is also the problem with the whole human race. People today, however, find that hard to believe. But there is something terribly the matter with humanity. Man is not what he was made to be. He does not function the way he ought to. There is a taint, a poison, spread throughout the whole human world, that causes even our efforts toward good to merely create new problems. The problem, the Bible declares, is sin—that is, selfishness and self-centeredness. We are all afflicted with a tendency to take care of ourselves first, to look out for number one. That is what produces the narcissism that is so characteristic of our day.
Secondly, God says, these people are weighed down because of sin. Think of the heavy burdens that come upon us because of this urge to self-centeredness within us. Think of the terrible cost of crime, child abuse, teenage pregnancies, the staggering cost of war. All these heavy burdens load us down, and leave us bent over in guilt. This kind of message is not very popular, but it is realistic.
We are proud of the technological advances of our day. But the people who invent these things labor under the same burdens that Israel faced in the days of Isaiah. We still have not learned how to keep a delinquent child from corrupting a whole neighborhood. We still have not learned how to save a disintegrating marriage by having those involved take an honest look at themselves and begin to work in harmony—not in estrangement. Our inability to do these things is what God is analyzing here.
These people are also the
children given to corruption, passing along their evil tendencies to the next generation as well. More than that,
they have forsaken the Lord. There is a strange conspiracy, prevalent in politics and education, to keep God out on the fringes of life, to never mention his name or acknowledge his presence. Any effort to insert him into public affairs meets with tremendous resistance. People have turned their backs on the living God, and do not like to acknowledge that he has any part in human affairs.
Further, God declares,
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel. They have blasphemed the God of Glory, they have insulted his majesty. That too is evident on every side today.
The ultimate result is,
they have turned their backs on him. This means they are alienated from him. People are alienated from God and therefore from each other. History confirms that when you lose God, you lose man as well. You can only understand man when you understand God, for man is made in the image of God. To lose the image of God is to lose the image of man. This is the problem with the world of our day.
Father, every breath I take is by your mercy and grace. Teach me to confess my sins and walk in obedience to you.
Life Application: The fatal virus of sin has infected all of humanity, which is highlighted in one representative nation. Does the spectacle of worldwide corruption call us to personal confession and intercessory prayer?
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Daily Devotion © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.