*I hope you forgive me, but I will not be posting tomorrow or Monday. I'm going to take a few days and go away. Because of me not posting again until Monday I won't go into much detail within the scripture itself. I want to just cover a few verses, then give some important background information.

"Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." (Isaiah 1:2-3)

Well, if you remember the Israelites are a people who quickly forget. No matter what God did for them, it was always: "Thanks! But, now go away." The Book of Isaiah is the beginning of the books dealing with the prophets. In order to truly understand what is happening we have to remember what we have learned so far. It is imperative for us to remember that the people were taken into exile. Israel (the North) was taken by the Assyrians, while Judah (the South) fell into the hands of the Babylonians. Not only did the city fall, but so did the temple. This is partly the setting for the Book of Isaiah. Now, when we read the book the temptation is to conclude that it is one book, by one author. I'm sorry, but it is not. The Book of Isaiah covers prophetic material spanning more than 200 years. Not only that; it covers different situations within the history of the people. There are three sections (or books) of Isaiah.

A) First Isaiah: (chapters 1-39) Deals with the threats to Israel and Judah by the Assyrians

B) Second Isaiah: (chapters 40-55) consists of oracles dealing with the Babylonian Exile.

C) Third Isaiah: (chapters 56-66) applies to the late 6th century in Judah where the Jewish community was struggling to rebuild itself.

The book itself actually begins with God basically bringing a legal suit against his people because of a breach of the Mosaic covenant. In verse two, God calls as His witnesses Heaven and Earth. (Hear, O heavens! Listen, O Earth!) Why did God call heaven and earth as witnesses? Because they were witnesses when the covenant was made. God's children have rebelled. Rebellion was a crime subject to the death penalty in Israelite Law. (Deut. 21:18-21)

I want tp take my time with Isaiah, so, again, I wont really dig into the scripture until Tuesday. There is so much to cover. So, I want to look at bit at Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah (of Jerusalem) (First Isaiah) had a lot in common with other prophets of the 8th century. (Amos, Hosea, and Micah: whom we will look at later) Isaiah may have been familiar with Hosea the prophet and his prophecy. Isaiah's prophecy, at times, echoes that of Hosea.

Isaiah's prophecy is set within the turbulent times of the 2nd half of the 8th century when Assyria was a threat to both Israel and Judah. By the end of the century only Judah had survived, and they only barely survived. On Tuesday we will look at many of the charges against the people. It will be interesting and it will also cause us to look at...ourselves. Let me warn you, this will not necessarily be easy. Keep in mind as we study this book and the other prophets, religion can tell you that what you are doing is right. Anyone holding to a particular belief can and will justify it based upon their understanding of religion (combination of their interpretation of the Bible, their tradition, and what their preacher said on Sunday morning) But, God is not contained to our religion. This book is an example of God having something to say to the people that contradicted everything they thought they knew; Especially (as we will see) their religion.

O.K., please have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend. I hope to be posting early on Tuesday morning. God bless! -Pastor Rick

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