The 1st chapter in Isaiah’s prophecy begins with a serious call of repentance to a rebellious and disobedient People of God. Israel has played the harlot and worshiped foreign gods even while going-through-the-motions of offering sacrifice and ritual to the true God. The result is that God has become—humanly speaking—nauseous of Israel’s feigned worship. “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. ... ” (Isaiah 1:13–15, NIV)
But God is merciful, and, if they shall repent and come to Him in faith, He shall forgive them. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NIV)
Chapters 2-5 are Isaiah’s second sermon to the nation. (Although we’ll only look at chapters 2-4 this evening). In chapter two, the prophet contrasts what God intended Israel to be (2:1-5) with what she actually has become (2:6-4:1), and what God will me of her in the future (4:2-6). The progress of Isaiah’s sermon is from the ideal to the real, and back to the ideal.