14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the LORD,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,
“He did not make me”?
Can the pot say of the potter,
“He knows nothing”?
17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field
and the fertile field seem like a forest?
18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,
and out of gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind will see.
19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the LORD;
the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 The ruthless will vanish,
the mockers will disappear,
and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down-
21 those who with a word make a man out to be guilty,
who ensnare the defender in court
and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.
22 Therefore this is what the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says to the house of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed;
no longer will their faces grow pale.
23 When they see among them their children,
the work of my hands,
they will keep my name holy;
they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding;
those who complain will accept instruction.”
What is particularly enlightening in this, and many, passages of Isaiah is who he identifies as “the sinner”. Typically we think about people of violence or drunkards, people who commit obvious and egregious sins – and this is definitely true. God’s wrath is promised upon those who commit these types of sins.
But Isaiah’s conception of “sin” defies simple explanation. In this passage, he also identifies those who give false testimony in court, and by doing so, deprive the innocent of justice. Those who mock others, and especially those who mock God, thinking that they are wiser than he. In other passages we read of those who make partying and luxury their first priority, those who build up their lives without regard to God and his plans, and the list goes on and on…
This is a very good reminder to all of us. We should not discriminate when it comes to sin. Sinners are not only those who we read in the crime blotter in the newspaper, although they definitely fit that category. But sin also includes items of the heart, mentalities and actions that reveal deep idolatry of self or possessions, a willful ignorance of justice, a complacent lack of compassion. This is one of the most important revelations of Isaiah.
And this revelation leads to one of the most important self-revelations of this book: that we are sinners all. Sure, many of us have managed to avoid some of the most gross sins, but who has not lied in order to make themselves bigger, and others smaller? Who has not built up the defenses and bulwarks of their life without a single thought towards God? Who hasn’t pursued their own selfish interests, rather than interests of those who have no defender?
Without exception, we all sin, and consequently…we all need Jesus.
1. What actions do you typically think of when you hear the word “sin”?
2. What have you discovered through the book of Isaiah about the true nature of sin?
3. The power of Christ is the power over sin – which particular sin do you need the power of Christ to overcome in your life?