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Isaiah 1:3 says,
3 “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”
God called Israel “My firstborn son,” but Israel soon ceased to recognize his Father. Israel had become senile before his time. The problem was that Israel had refused to recognize that they were “one nation under God.” Having displaced God from His throne, they set themselves up as the highest authority in the land and were ruled by the traditions of men.
Isaiah 1:4 gives us the prophet’s lamentation,
4 Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him.
Israel was turned from being sons of God to “offspring of evildoers.” Natural sons are unable to change fathers, but spiritual sons may easily change fathers, because it is a legal change, not a biological change. The same law by which these sons of God were turned into sons of evildoers has the power to turn us back into the sons of God.
Isaiah 1:5, 6 says,
5 Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint, 6 from the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.
The prophet says that God had disciplined them so much already that His son was full of bruises, welts, and raw wounds from head to toe, yet no amount of discipline could turn their hearts. God had brought Israel into six distinct captivities prior to the time of Israel’s monarchy, and in Isaiah’s day the Assyrians were soon coming to put them into a lengthy iron-yoke captivity.
Not much had changed since the days of Moses, when the people wanted to stone him. Since all previous disciplinary action had not produced repentance, except in the remnant, the time was drawing near for the law of the stubborn son to be enforced. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says,
18 If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall seize him and bring him out to the elders of the city at the gateway of his hometown. 20 They shall say to the elders of his city, “this son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.
This is one of the laws by which God put the nation of Israel to death. National death does not mean every individual was killed, but rather that the national entity had been destroyed. In other words, the nation of Israel no longer existed. The people were deported to Assyria, where one large group was settled in the land of Gamir and were known as Gamira, a name derived from Gomer, the wife of Hosea who was a type of Israel. Gomer, in turn, was the old spelling of Omri, the king of Israel whose son was Ahab.
Two centuries later, Assyria fell to Babylon, and many of these Gamira (also called Khumri, i.e., the Celts) immigrated into Europe. As time passed, they formed many different nations, but God did not allow any of them to take the name Israel. Hence, Israel as a nation was dead, having been stoned for persistently stubborn rebellion.
The modern state called Israel is a Jewish state, not an Israelite nation. God allowed them to take the name Israel for other reasons which I covered thoroughly in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright. The modern Israeli state is not what most Christians think it is, yet it is certainly in the divine plan. By understanding the divine law, we may see its purpose clearly.
The Surviving Remnant
Isaiah 1:8, 9 says,
8 The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. 9 Unless the Lord of hosts had left us a few survivors [sariyd], we would be like Sodom, we would be like Gomorrah.
Isaiah paints a scene of isolation like a tiny fortress in the midst of a siege. In other words, only a few people are left—in this case, a righteous remnant in a nation full of iniquity. The prophet calls them “survivors,” using the word sariyd. This is similar to she’ar, “remnant,” except that sariyd pictures a few survivors arriving as refugees after a massacre.
The prophet then compares Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah, not only in moral character but also insofar as divine judgment is concerned. He says that the only reason Israel was not treated like Sodom and Gomorrah (i.e., destroyed completely, never to arise again) is because “the Lord had left us a few survivors.”
In other words, the presence of the remnant stayed the hand of God, whereas in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, God removed Lot and his family from the city so that He could destroy it. The angel told Lot in Genesis 19:20-24,
20 Now behold this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved… 22 Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there. Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar [“little, small, insignificant”]. 23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
Lot was the “remnant” in his day. His presence preserved Sodom and Gomorrah for as long as he remained there. But the day came when God removed him so that judgment could come upon these wicked cities.
In the case of Israel, the nation was just as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah. It too was being preserved as long as there was a righteous remnant in the land. As we will see later, Isaiah had a son named She-ar jashub, “the remnant will return.”
It appears that Isaiah’s son served as a prophetic type of the remnant being removed from Israel in order to allow the Assyrians to destroy the nation. That is why Isaiah and his sons were in Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. Yet when Isaiah wrote the first chapter of his book, it appears that he was living in Israel and felt isolated in a sea of wickedness. For this reason, he would write as if the remnant was still present in Israel, preventing the nation’s final destruction.
The implication is that once Isaiah and his children moved out of Israel into Judah, the signal was given to the Assyrians to destroy the nation.
Israel Becomes Sodom
Isaiah 1:10 says,
10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah.
The people and their leaders were lawless. In particular, the story in Genesis 19 shows that Sodom and Gomorrah were known for their toleration of the homosexual lifestyle. In fact, this is the particular sin that confirmed the wickedness of the city when the two angels arrived to investigate (Genesis 19:5-8).
Such immorality had become an accepted way of life in Sodom. With Israel, too, Isaiah 3:9 says, “they display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it.” In other words, homosexual relations had been legalized and had come “out of the closet.” Israel had rejected the law of God, in particular, Leviticus 20:13,
13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
Of note is the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah had not been given the law of God, for its citizens were not present at Mount Horeb to hear the law. Nonetheless, they were held liable for their violation of the law, perhaps because homosexual behavior is not “natural.” Paul used this argument in Romans 1:20, applying it in part to homosexual behavior in Romans 1:26, 27,
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
From God’s perspective, once men began to worship creatures rather than the Creator, they quickly degenerated into immorality and did things which nature itself show to be “unnatural.” Ultimately, “God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which were not proper” (Romans 1:28).
There are some who argue that only Israelites are responsible to keep the law of God, since they were the ones who received the law at Mount Horeb. Jews today claim that non-Jews were only given the so-called “Noahide laws” in Genesis 9:1-7. However, these “Noahide laws” say nothing about homosexual behavior, so if this had been the only standard given for non-Jews, then how could God hold Sodom and Gomorrah liable?
God held Sodom and Gomorrah liable for their wickedness (i.e., violation of His law). That example proves conclusively that the law was not just given to Jews or Israelites but to all men. It is the righteous standard reflecting the nature of God Himself, and so it reflects what all of mankind will be in the restoration of all things.
I should also add that insofar as the earthly application of the law is concerned, the law does not judge homosexuality itself but only homosexual acts. The law is weak in that it cannot judge thought crimes. The law regulates behavior only, for it lacks the ability to change the heart, i.e., one’s nature. Only the Holy Spirit can change one’s heart, and so a Christian homosexual ought to appeal to the Holy Spirit while, in the meanwhile, refraining from overt acts that violate the law and nature of God.
If anyone is offended by this, keep in mind that my commission is to teach the word of God, not to reinterpret it to suit the world's view of morality.