This week’s Haftarah portion is Isaiah 1:1-27. Listen in as Dr. Jeffrey Myers discusses the life of the prophet of Isaiah, who brought prophecies and words of admonition for the Kingdom of Judah at a time of spiritual decline in the nation, and how it applies to us today.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftarah:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftarah Portion – Isaiah 1:1-27
Isaiah’s ministry is during a time when both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms are declining politically and spiritually. The vision of Isaiah begins with Yah issuing a formal indictment against Y’hudah and Yershalayim. Isaiah warns Y’hudah and her kings of the consequences of their rebellion: The curse of disobedience according to the Torah will come upon the people, ultimately driving them into exile. Concerning the vision, Rabbi Abraham Heschel states, “To the person endowed with prophetic sight, everyone else appears blind; to a person whose ear perceives Yah’s voice, everyone else appears deaf”. In this day and age, we live in this is so clear and accurate. As the end times continue to push forward and it becomes clear Messiah is just right around the corner, it seems that people who claim to follow Yeshua are blind and deaf to the writing on the wall. Many prophets today are speaking about events yet to unfold, not just one witness but two and three, yet it seems Yah’s people remain with blinders on their eyes and their ears closed with the fullness of this world. Isaiah demands that Heaven and Earth listen as Adonai speaks. This summons by Adonai to listen to what He has to say indicates this is universal truth: it applies at all times and in all places. The problem is that the children whom He lovingly took care of, watched over, directed their path, gave them many opportunities, turned their backs on Him in rebellion and walked in their own way. This seems to be one of the most common problems we face today. Yah also pinpoints the most powerful thing about the blindness of these rebellious children, that is, their ingratitude! Isaiah points out that even animals know better! Animals are grateful for their loving care, but not the children of men. This is one of the problems highlighted in Isaiah—Why is it that mankind is so blind to the goodness and mercy of Yah?
How can anyone live without Yah? Every breath we breathe is by the mercy of Adonai. Everything comes from His love and providing Hands. However, we ignore and turn our backs on all that and live our lives like only man matters. What blindness! Adonai analyzes the situation in Israel and in one verse, a seven-fold indictment of the nation is given. It is in Isaiah 1:4 where we see the parallel to our own times. “Oh, sinful nation, a people weighed down by iniquity, descendants of evildoers, immoral children! They have abandoned Adonai, spurned the Holy One of Israel, turned their backs on Him!”
Let’s take a closer look at those seven things: First, Adonai says, Israel is a sinful nation. They have been infected with a fatal virus that causes everything they do to turn out wrong. The Bible states the problem is with the whole human race, our hearts are deceitfully wicked. However, some people find that hard to concede believing man is ultimately good. Yet, the Bible tells us no one is righteous, no not one! We are not what we were made to be and do not function the way we should. There is a taint, a poison spread throughout humanity, that causes even our efforts toward good to merely create new problems. The problem, the Bible declares, is sin—that is, selfishness, self-centeredness. We are all afflicted with a tendency to take care of ourselves first, to look out for number one. This has created in today’s culture and society, the “me generation”.
Secondly, these people are “ladened” because of sin. Think of the heavy burdens that came upon us because of this urge to self-centeredness within us. Terrible cost of child abuse, crime, unwanted pregnancies, to name a few. The burdens load us down as a people, a nation, as a Kehillah. So, Adonai analyzes our inability to follow His path and His ways. The third, fourth and fifth indictment is “offspring of evildoers”, “son of evildoers” which means the inherited problems have been passed along from generation to generation. “Sons of corruption” have passed their evil tendencies to the next generation forsaking Yah. Sixth, He declares “they have despised the Holy One of Israel” because they blasphemed the Yah of Glory, insulting His majesty and the ultimate result is number seven, “they are utterly estranged”. They are alienated from Yah and from each other. History confirms that when you lose Yah, you lose man as well. You can only understand man when you understand Yah, for man is made in the image of Yah. To lose the image of Yah is to lose the image of man. This is the problem with the world today.
As we continue to read Isaiah 1, we see the consequences of this seven-fold indictment; desolation, natural defenses removed, invaders take over and make life desolate and dreary. However, Yah is good and His mercy is everlasting. He is trying to awaken us. He tries to awaken a nation that will not hear, and make them listen to what He has to say. C.S.Lewis said, “Pain is Yah’s megaphone. He whispers to us in our pleasures. He speaks to us in our work, but He shouts at us in our pain.” Yah allows things so we pay attention, awaken from our slumber, take the blinders off and unstop our ears.
Y’hudah hears and knows Yah is upset with her so they go through the religious norms hoping their performance will appease their righteous Yah. However, Adonai is no pagan god whose anger is mollified by blood sacrifices, NO, these are symbols, and frankly, He has had enough of symbols which are empty without relationship. What good is a sacrifice if the heart is not involved? What good is it if there is no change in life? It is just play-acting designed to keep Yah happy so destruction won’t come, designed to keep Yah happy so He won’t destroy our plans or cancel prerogatives. What a low view of Yah, to think that He can be paid off by religious performance!
What does Yah want? Isaiah 1:16-17 says, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” It can be explained in two steps; one negative, one positive: Stop doing wrong; start doing right! This is what Yah wants! The sign of true faith is obedience and service. If these are not present, then the expression of faith that we are offering are nauseating in His sight.
Adonai tells us in Isaiah 1:18-20, “Come let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 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 Adonai has spoken.”
It could not be put any plainer. There is no help in man himself. We cannot heal ourselves. We need more than our habits changed. We ourselves need to be changed and that change can only occur in a relationship with the living Yah, accepting Yeshua as Messiah and allowing the Ruach to empower and live inside you. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Yeshua!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha!
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