SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Today we begin reading the book of Isaiah, named after it's author, the prophet Isaiah. It was written between 745 and 680 B.C. Isaiah lived at a crucial time, midway between the founding of the kingdom under Saul and David and it's eventual destruction. A civil war had split the Israelites into the north (Israel) and the south (Judah).
- Isaiah's prophetic ministry lasts about 60 years and spans the reign of four kings of Judah. Isaiah lived in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, and was well-educated and politically astute. Isaiah has messages for all of Israel, but his ministry is primarily directed to the people of Judah.
- When Isaiah began his work, people gave lip service to God and kept up the outward appearance of religion via rituals (i.e.: sacrifices, worthless assemblies, feasts, burning incense), but did little more than that.
- Isaiah is directed to a sinful nation (verse 4). People have abandoned God and turned their backs on him. God compares these people of Judah to those of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- God is calling to his people (despite his anger and frustration with them) to change their ways, to come back to him, and to love him with all their hearts, verses just doing rituals that hold no real meaning and do not express or increase their love for God.
- The nation of Judah has turned it's back on God. However, God is willing to forgive the nation of Judah if they repent and turn away from their sinful ways and come back to him.
- It's hard for some of us to picture this loving father (especially if you didn't have one) who, despite frustration and heartbreak, just wants you back no matter how much you might have done to cause him pain. He loves you and he wants so badly for you to accept his love and to reciprocate it.
- If you examine your own heart, do you see any similarities between yourself and the people of Judah in how they behaved toward God? Do you ever feel like you are faking it and not really feeling it?
- Do you ever feel like you are just going through the motions or performing rituals, but not invested in your relationship with God?
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What steps could you take today to show God your love is genuine? Could it be:
- Committing more time to reading the bible?
- Getting involved in a Verve Group and learning to fall in love with God with other Ververs cheering you on?
- Confessing your shortcomings or struggles to God and asking him to help you walk through your struggles?