Since we have observed some practical lessons from the twenty-second book of the Bible, let us now move on to the twenty-third book, Isaiah.
1. PRAYER IS FUTILE WHEN COUPLED WITH WICKED DEEDS.
Isaiah 1:15 - "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood."
The Creator loves all of His creation deeply. However, those who live in rebellion should not expect God to answer their prayers favorably. Such is the case even when one offers a "multitude of sacrifices" to the Lord (1:11; or, to modernize the thought, one who attends church regularly and gives generously, for example). As Peter quoted in the New Testament - "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil" (I Pet. 3:12). God wants our worship and prayers to be coupled with righteous living.
2. IF YOU OBEY, YOU WILL BE BLESSED, BUT IF YOU DISOBEY YOU WILL BE CURSED.
Isaiah 1:19,20 - "'If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.' For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
For Israel, the theme of obedience resulting in great blessings from God and disobedience resulting in cursings is seen in a number of places in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 28 is perhaps the best example since it goes into such explicit detail for both. Although these promises were for a nation of old, Christians today have a great promise from Christ - "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [i.e., the necessities of life] shall be added to you" (Matt. 6:33).
3. WOE TO THOSE WHO HAVE FORSAKEN OBJECTIVE TRUTH.
Isaiah 5:20 - "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."
Although technology advances with the passing of time, humanity remains the same. Heart problems of old are still heart problems today. It was just as tragic then as it is today when one refuses to accept God's objective truth and moral standards. This is often seen today initially via a terminology shift. For example, the term "gay" is preferred over "homosexuality" or "sodomite"; a "woman's choice" is preferred over "murdered baby", etc. There is an absolute standard of morality as defined by God in His word. Woe to those who forsake it for a subjective, situational ethic.
4. TO "SEE" ALMIGHTY GOD IS LIFE-CHANGING.
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!' And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.' Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: 'Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.' Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'"Isaiah's vision here is quite powerful. First, he saw the holiness of our highly exalted God. As a consequence, he was humbled greatly and overwhelmed with holy terror because of his own unworthiness. Humility is immediately followed by healing. He is touched and cleansed by God. He is now ready and willing to really serve the Lord. It has been suggested that what made Isaiah such a great prophet was that he began his work being scared to death! Friends, we need to enter into God's work with fear and trembling, and seeing God for who He truly is and ourselves for what we really are is vitally important and life-changing.