Isaiah was a prophet to Judah. He exercised his ministry wholly within her borders, and with a view to her correction and comfort. His burdens of the nations were uttered concerning those nations which surrounded Judah, and had harassed her. His outlook was world-wide, and inclusive of the whole purpose of God. Profoundly conscious of the purpose of God that through His people all peoples should be blessed, he saw through all the processes of judgment the ultimate blessing of the whole earth.
The prophecies of judgment fall into three circles: concerning Judah and Jerusalem (1-12), concerning the nations and the world (13-27), concerning the chosen and the world (28-35). This concerning Judah and Jerusalem is separated into two parts by the prophet's vision at the death of Uzziah. In the first five chapters, therefore, we have his messages during the reign of Uzziah.
This first message is of the nature of a great impeachment of the nation, in which the cause of controversy between Jehovah and His people is declared, and the necessity for judgment affirmed. The heavens and earth are summoned to hear the complaint of Jehovah, which is that notwithstanding His love and tenderness His people do not know Him. The prophet appeals to the sinning people, demanding why they will still be stricken. All their suffering is the result of their sin, and yet they rebel more and more. Again voicing the message of Jehovah, he corrects the prevalent and pernicious idea that relation to God is conditioned by external acts of worship. Sacrifices and feasts are nothing worth, and God hates them when unaccompanied by rectitude.
Jehovah now calls His people to reason with Him, and declares that the alternative issue of such reasoning is dependent on their attitude. Because of the fearful corruption of the city judgment is necessary. It will proceed to restoration in the case of those who are obedient; but to reprobation and utter destruction in the case of the transgressors.
the First Week of Advent