The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 1 Part 5

On to Isaiah 1:21-26

v21: Note: In this verse, G-d reminds the people of their current state. This is His perspective, how He sees them. It is important for us to understand sin from G-d’s perspective. If we do not understand that we are sinners in need of mercy, then we are not candidates for salvation. 

This doesn’t mean that we need to be experts and understand everything about sin, but we do need to know what kind of behaviour G-d considers sinful and what He considers righteous. Before salvation we can agree that certain behaviours are sinful, but it is only after salvation, when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us, that He gives us the strength to turn away from it. 

  • Faithful city: Referring to how Jerusalem had been.
  • Harlot: At the core of harlotry, in the prophets, is the issue of idolatry. Even in the city of Jerusalem there was much idolatry.  
  • Now murderers: Instead of justice and righteousness, which G-d had placed in that city, there was murderous activity. Murderers were welcome there.

v22: Dross: Very inadequate, of a poor quality, impure. When metal is refined the dross is removed and thrown away. This was not the case with Jerusalem. They were happy to live with the impurities and did not remove them. 

  • Mixed: Polluted. Lessened

Note: Things have changed. This city is now full of impurity. There is a lessening. The measure being used here is not the measure that G-d had approved as proper among the children of Israel. 

v23: Princes: Leaders. The word for a high-ranking official in the government.

  • Rebellious: This same word is found in Deut 21:18-21 regarding a stubborn and extremely rebellious son. This son refuses to take correction or listen to truth. He is wholly committed to that which is sinful. As a result of this rebellion the community would stone this son to death. This same word is used here to describe the leadership of Judah. 
  • Everyone loves bribes: They are not interested in reflecting the character, the truth, the justice of G-d. They just want money through whatever means they can get it. 
  • Follows after rewards: Pursues payments. This is written in the plural. It is not a one-time sin. This leadership is committing the same sin over and over again. 
  • Do not defend the fatherless: They do not provide justice for the orphan, nor do they plead his cause.
  • The cause of the widow (does not)…come before them:  They exploited and oppressed the widow when she came seeking justice. They did not contend for her.  

v24: (Literally) ‘L-rd G-d of hosts’: Usually we find the expression ‘L-rd of Hosts’ or the ‘L-rd G-d’ in the Bible but this expression used here (in the original) is a very rare one. This is a very strong term for the Supreme G-d who is totally able and who is totally in control. 

  • The Mighty One of Israel: This is a term of great respect. Like for a knight of the round table, it is a term that speaks of One who has great character, great ability and of someone who has done something truly wonderful. 
  • Ah: (literally: woe)This is a word used for capturing our attention. If something does not happen, how awful the consequences are going to be. 
  • Rid Myself: In Hebrew it literally means to comfort or to find relief. Comfort is usually tied to the work of Messiah, and it relates to redemption. There is, however, another aspect related to comfort, and it is this aspect that is being referred to here – G-d’s judgment brings comfort to Him. When an unrighteous situation has been dealt with it results in a change to the situation, a new status. This new status, this righteous change, brings comfort to G-d. 
  • Adversaries: Enemies. Those who are in opposition to the things of G-d.
  • Vengeance: Often we think of vengeance as an act of revenge (getting even – an eye for an eye…). This is not the kind of vengeance that G-d exacts on His enemies. Vengeance, for G-d, is not an act of revenge or retribution. This kind of vengeance means that G-d acts/behaves in such a way that righteousness is manifested. Because there is a righteous outcome to this vengeance, G-d takes comfort in it. 

v25: I will turn My hand (upon) you: G-d knows the spiritual condition of Judah, His covenant people, and He is the One who does the work that is needed in order to redeem them. ‘Turning His hand’ does not mean that He smacks, punishes or strikes them. When G-d turns His hand upon them, He works in a way to purify and refine them. 

  • Dross: Impurities found in a metal. When metal (eg silver) is melted down the dross and the good quality metal separate from each other. All the impurities rise to the top of the ‘pot’ and they can be scooped out and thrown away. This is what the hand of G-d is going to do to Judah. His activity is going to produce righteousness. 
  • Alloy: Although an alloy has some metal in it, it is inadequate and inferior to pure metal. G-d wanted to remove anything in Judah that was impure, and anything in Judah that was not of the highest quality.  

v26: At the first…at the beginning: The image here is that of restoration.

  • Judges…counsellors: Justice and righteousness are going to be restored. Counsellors have wisdom – they understand what righteousness and unrighteousness are – and they are able to impart that wisdom/understanding to others. 
  • Afterward: After G-d’s activity has been performed. It is only G-d who can bring this about. 
  • City of righteousness, the faithful city: Referring to the city of Jerusalem. 

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