There were a lot of people who did not like Isaiah the Prophet.
Isaiah lived around the seventh century before Christ. He was sent by God to preach to the people of Judah, who had forsaken the Lord. Indeed, many of the people were living in various sinful lifestyles. They had religions in their day that were as popular as they were evil, one reason for this being that no one would say anything was really wrong. In truth, the only thing that was “really wrong” was speaking the Word of Jehovah.
In fact, it was common to go somewhere and find any religion, or any religious practice, or any god, that suited your whims.
In many ways, ancient Judah is like modern day America.
It was in this culture that God (the one true God) described the wickedness of the people, and of their rebellious hearts:
Isaiah 30:8-11-8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for time to come, Forever and ever: 9 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us.”
Notice several things with me about this text.
Isaiah Was Sent To Preach The Word Of God
God tells Isaiah to write this message on a tablet, and to note it on a scroll. The message was the fact of God’s Word, and the rejection of it by the people. God’s Word would stand, even after judgment. His Word would be a testament throughout all time that He had given people opportunity to repent.
Earlier in the Book, God had commissioned Isaiah to preach and teach God’s Word to the people, whether they rejected it or accepted it. He was to do this, until the judgment of God came upon the people for their wickedness (Isaiah 6:8-13). He was warned that the people would reject the Word of God, and that they would overtly persecute him. In the midst of this, Isaiah was to be faithful to God.
We in the church of God need to wake up to the fact God has commissioned us to proclaim His Word to the world; and that His Word will usually not be popular with our neighbors. People will reject it at times, and they will not like us for teaching Christ’s Word to them.
John 15:20-Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
1 John 3:13-Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
Many in the religious world will look down upon the Lord’s church for speaking His Word. Yet if we are faithful to God, we will continue to preach and teach. Many (even within the church) will rise up against us. Should this surprise us? Didn’t Peter warn that even as there were false prophets among the Old Testament saints, there will be false teachers among us (2 Peter 2:1-2)? They will attack us when we stand on God’s Word. They will condemn us when we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). They will hate it when we encourage people to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
They will mock us. They may call us “Pharisees,” “legalists,” “waterdogs,” “Campbellites,” “church-of-Christ’ers,” and on and on the list will go. Yet we must be like Isaiah the Prophet, and deliver the message of God to the people around us.
The Reasons For The Rejection Of The Word Of God
The Scripture does not leave us in doubt as to why these people hate the Word of God being taught and proclaimed. As we delve into the passage, we see that the main reason for their rejection of the Word of God is due to their wickedness.
What does it mean that they are a “rebellious people?” Gareth Reese tells us:
“It has been said that there are three classes or kinds of sin in the Hebrew Old Testament. (1) The lightest infractions are those that are called chet, chata, chatta’ah, or chattah, a fault, a shortcoming, a misstep, to sin, err, miss the mark. (2). Of a more serious nature are the sins described by ‘avon, avah, or ‘aven, a breaking of a commandment, iniquity. (3) The most serious sins are those called pesha’ (transgression) and resha’ (wickedness). There is the idea of rebellion involved in pesha’, and of what has become a habit or state in resha’. Psalm 106:6 mentions all three words, “We have sinned (cheta) like our fathers, we have committed iniquity (avah), we have behaved wickedly (resha’).” A similar threefold list is found in Exodus 34:7, “Who forgives iniquity (avon) , transgression (pesha’) and sin (chatta’ah).” (Gareth Reese, Commentary On Romans, 216; Joplin, Missouri; College Press).
Even though the people were rebellious (engaged in willful and continual sin), God offered them forgiveness if they would repent (cf. Isaiah 1:16-20; 55:6-7). The problem? They would not repent.
The text says that the Hebrews were “lying children.” What did this mean? It has reference to the fact that they loved deceit and lies. They had promised to serve God, but had been unfaithful to Him. They preferred lies of the world to the truth of the one true God. They would rather hear what satisfied their wicked natures then to the tried and proven Word of Jehovah.
Who Will Not Hear The Law Of The Lord
Now, we start seeing the facts! It wasn’t that these people simply did not know God’s Word. They were not merely ignorant! There might be some understanding from God for those who are simply ignorant of His Word (John 9:41; 15:22; Romans 7:9); but that is far different from those who would rather not know the Word of God.
Do Not See, Do Not Prophesy To Us Right Things; Speak Smooth Things, Prophesy Deceits
Notice the desire of this wicked generation. They want the Prophets to speak lies to them, and not the truth.
“Pleasant means ‘smooth’; illusions comes from √ tālal , to mock, trifle with. Instead, therefore, of what is right , they want things which will leave the surface of life unruffled, a ministry of trifles; they did not want the direction or style of life ( way … path ) altered, and in particular they did not want to hear of a holy God living among them and exerting pressure on them ( of Israel ; see on 1:4). They did not ask that preaching cease; only that it be innocuous, and without the absolutes of truth and morality which derive from the character of God.” (J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, 3699-3705 (Kindle Edition); Nottingham, England; InterVarsity Press)
The people would much rather have lies preached to them then the truth.
Isn’t it much the same today? I have known people who have despised the church of Christ for teaching about repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31) and baptism (Mark 16;16; Acts 2:38; 22;16). Some have gotten angry with faithful Christians who proclaim the Bible teaching about church attendance (Hebrews 10:24-25). I have known of preachers who were attacked for preaching against adultery, fornication, homosexuality, embezzlement, occultism, witchcraft and drug dealing. I have known some who have been the targets of vicious slander, gossip, assault, vandalism, and attempted murder. Yes, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).
In many ways, we have the same choice as Isaiah.
We can resolve that we will speak the truth in love, understanding that the rebellious and wicked will hate us for it and persecute us for it. We can do this, knowing that our reward is in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 1:5).
Or, we can change the Message to appease those who are lost. We can do this, jeopardizing our souls, while at the same time helping to send others to Hell by preaching and proclaiming a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 5:4).
The Son of God loves you and is calling for you to be saved friend (Matthew 11:28-30). He died for you (paying the price for your sins), was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Why not today, as a believer, repent of your sins and be baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38)? If you are a child of God who has left the Lord, why not today repent of the sin in your life and pray to the Lord for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.