But remember, we said Isaiah is like a song with three verses. And in these opening chapters, amid these pronouncements of judgment, we also find words of comfort and hope. Here are some words of comfort that remind us of the work of the Messianic Servant.
After comparing the people to Sodom and Gomorrah, God says this:
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.Isaiah 1:16-18
What words of comfort! Although the people’s hands are full of blood, God grants them an opportunity to be washed, to be made clean, and to live the kinds of lives that bring Him glory and honor. The picture here is one of total forgiveness: sin has stained them scarlet red, yet God’s power to remove sin is complete, as evidenced by the fact that He promises His people will be white as snow.
You know that mistake you made? The big one? If you’re like most people, you probably have a couple of mistakes that Satan loves to remind you about. You probably have a hard time forgiving yourself for what you did or what you said. But they key to forgiving yourself is found in hearing the judgment of the King. We hear the King judging sin as having no place in His Kingdom. And then, the judgment of the King leads to the comfort of the Servant as we realize that He makes is possible for us to be purified. We find hope in the Savior — the One who went to the cross to atone for our sins. He is mighty to save, mighty to deliver, making us white as snow once again! I can’t think of a more comforting thought!
And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.Isaiah 1:26-27
The reversal continues here, as the faithless city is restored to her former position. Two phrases beautifully capture this mighty work: “as at the first” and “as at the beginning.” These words tell us that God’s judgment is redemptive. He is able to restore His people once again. This will be the great work of the Messianic Servant — Jesus Christ. And you can bet we will be talking a great deal about this over the course of this series.
His judgment leads to repentance — and this is a major theme not only in Isaiah but also for the entirety of the Scriptures. Isaiah has much to say to the remnant — those who will remain faithful through the coming judgment of captivity and exile. God always preserves a remnant. And as we’ve seen in this passage, the remnant is made up of the repentant. God says, Zion shall be redeemed by justice and those in her who repent, by righteousness. Repentance is the fulcrum here. The Day of the Lord is a terrible day for the unrepentant. But for those who fall on His grace and mercy, it is a day of deliverance, a day of salvation.
The Messianic King renders judgment; the Messianic Servant brings comfort by taking our place, by being pierced for our transgressions as Isaiah says in Isaiah 53. But then we find hope as the Messianic Savior delivers us from our idols.
And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away….In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship…Isaiah 2:17-18, 20
Isaiah sees a day when the Messiah, the Savior, brings us hope. He will be victorious over the idols that are always vying for our allegiance. I like the way one scholar puts it: these “ungods” will utterly pass away when our Savior is through with them. We find strength in the knowledge that the Day of the Lord will be a day of victory — God’s Messiah will once and for all cast aside all the idols that have plagued us since the Garden of Eden.