For the LORD of hosts has a day…Isaiah 2:12
Early on, Isaiah introduces this concept that the Lord has a special day in store — elsewhere referred to as “the Day of the Lord.” Isaiah describes this day repeatedly throughout his preaching ministry. One of his favorite phrases is “on that day,” which is oftentimes his shorthand reference to the day of the Lord that he sees just beyond his horizon.
And as we noted earlier, for some, this will be a day of great judgment and calamity. You can see this theme at the beginning of the book of Isaiah.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children I have reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know me, my people do not understand.”Isaiah 1:2-3
The people have rebelled against the Lord. He says, “Beasts know their masters, yet my people have forgotten me.”
They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.Isaiah 1:4
Judah is like a lost child, separated from his parent. Or in the terms of covenant, Jerusalem has forsaken her vows. She shows contempt for the Holy One of Israel with her unholy ways. And thus, the Day of the Lord will be as a King rendering judgment upon His wayward subjects.
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.Isaiah 1:7
The invasion Isaiah describes here eventually takes place in 701 B.C. as King Sennacherib of the Neo-Assyrian empire conquers 46 of Judah’s cities. But what’s really interesting here is this word “overthrown.” The word for “overthrown” has strong associations with Genesis and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (You can read all about that in Genesis 19.) In the very next verses, Isaiah refers to the rulers of Judah as “rulers of Sodom” and the people as “people of Gomorrah.” The NT book of Jude tells us that these two cities were destroyed for their sexual immorality and their perversion — and the Judah of Isaiah’s day is being compared to these two cities! This is an indication that the coming day will be a day of desolation and destruction for those who have rebelled against the Lord.
There are still others in Judah who seem to think that they have nothing to fear because they continue to appease God with burnt offerings, even though their behavior is far from righteous.
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings…I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats….Bring no more vain offerings….When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.Isaiah 1:11-15
God points out that although these individuals make the proper sacrifices and say their prayers, they have overlooked the plight of the poor, the widow, and the fatherless. This is the blood that is on their hands that makes their offerings vain.
See how the faithful city has become a prostitute! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her — but now murderers! Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.Isaiah 1:21-23
What a heartbreaking word of judgment! The faithful city has become faithless, Jerusalem is a wayward bride who has forsaken her marriage vows. Isaiah compares Judah to choice wine that has been diluted — saying that she has been “watered down” because of her spiritual adultery. The leaders are corrupt and they ignore the needs of the widow and the orphan.
Ultimately, God’s Day of judgment will come about as a result of idolatry, Isaiah says.
Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.Isaiah 2:8
I know this is heavy, but I just want to show you what God’s Word says. We should hear Isaiah’s words as a warning against forsaking our commitment to the Lord. We should guard against anything in our lives that might be taking on too much importance. Judah’s false gods were “gods” of their own creation and we are just as susceptible to this kind of idolatry today.
Is there an idol in your life today?
Who or what is the real king in your life?
So we find the King speaking words of judgment against all of this. And the Day of the Lord will be a terrible day, a humbling day for some.