Peter Barnes: Isaiah 1:18-20
(22 July 2018)
SERMON NOTES: LET US REASON TOGETHER (Isaiah 1:18-20)
God has called out Israel for being stupider than oxen and donkeys (1:2-4); pointed out how Israel has not learnt despite being chastened by God (1:5-10); condemned ceremonies which do not save anybody from sin (1:11-15); and told them what not to do and what to do (1:16-17). This next section is an appeal, rather like Micah 6:2.
1. God makes His appeal to us.
– 1:18a. We live in a culture which tells us that faith and reason are contrary to one another. Richard Lewontin: ‘materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.’
– We are to love God with our minds. Ask yourself: ‘Where did the world come from?’ It made itself. How? A rock turned into an insect, via amebae. Job 38:1-4. ‘Do you have sins?’ What is the answer? Surely, it is ‘yes’. Well, what are you going to do about them? Well, I just forgive myself. Job 40:1-2. Will you die, and will everyone you love here on earth die? Eccles.9:2-3.
– 1:11. But God commanded all those sacrifices, but Heb.9:22; 10:1-4.
2. God’s promise of full and free forgiveness.
– 1:18b. Lady Macbeth asked at the murder of Duncan: ‘Will all the perfumes of Arabia not cleanse this hand of mine?’ Psalm 130:3-4. For David, see Ps.51:7. The heart of God in Luke 15:20-24. Hence 1 John 1:7. Charles Wesley: His blood can make the foulest clean,/ His blood availed for me.
3. Two responses, two consequences.
– 1:19-20. The ESV captures the pun – eat or be eaten! If Israel repents, she will enjoy the fruits of the Promised Land – Deut.28:11. If Israel goes her own way, the Assyrians will slaughter her – Deut.28:25-26; Isa.5:26-30.
– John 3:18