The Passionate Pursuer
God gives visions to Isaiah over a span of many years, during the reigns of Judah’s kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah—beginning the year King Uzziah dies.
God is upset with his sinful and rebellious people. Like a loving parent, he has tried countless times to get their attention through discipline, but they haven’t listened. They bring offerings to his temple, but their hands are blood-tainted and sin-stained. It’s a mockery of his sacred dwelling. But he is going to remove the impurities with the fire of judgment. Then Jerusalem will be called “the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.”
God gives Isaiah a look into the last days, when the world will be at peace, and people will stream to Jerusalem to learn God’s ways. But before those peaceful last days, God has a time in store when he is going to shake the earth, bringing down the prideful and the idolatrous.
The beautiful Branch of the Lord will be the pride of the faithful people who have survived the purifying. God will cleanse the city and create a glorious canopy of smoke by day and fire by night as a shelter and refuge over the city.
The King’s Heart
God’s people were going through the motions. They were bringing sacrifices to him and celebrating the New Moon feasts and other festivals, but in their hearts they pledged their passion to dark idols.
In a relationship, apathy is the worst emotional state. If hatred is involved, at least there’s some kind of emotion—a hidden passion sparks hatred’s fire. But apathy is emotional flatlining. It’s a heart unaffected, unmoved. “We really don’t care about you,” God’s people were saying as they unenthusiastically kept the monthly feasts with obligation rather than celebration.
“Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being,” God responded. “They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:14).
“But even though you may not care about me, I still care about you,” God was saying. He assures his people that “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Despite the mockery of his people, the Lord continued to pursue their passionless hearts.
God told his people that he was going to make them as white as snow and wool. Both snow and wool are naturally white—they aren’t bleached. The cleansing God foretold would be so thorough that it would be as if he had given his people a new nature, completely forgetting the past.