Greetings in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine. (Isaiah 9:2)
Prophet Isaiah came to the temple to pray to God because King Uzziah died, one of the best kings in history. Under him, people lived comfortably and enjoyed prosperity during the reign of King Uzziah. As the king died, the entire nation was unsettled. They started to worry about their future. They also felt threats from neighboring countries. They knew their lives would no longer be the same. Prophet Isaiah was one of them, and he had no place to go except one — the temple where God was.
In the temple, Prophet Isaiah prayed to God. He unloaded a heavy burden in his heart for fellow people who got lost and were searching for an answer. Additionally, Prophet Isaiah knew God’s impending judgment on the northern kingdom, Israel. The northern kingdom had been behaving wickedly before God, and the southern kingdom was increasingly acting closely to the northern kingdom. Thus, God warned through Prophet Isaiah, but nobody was really serious about God’s warning messages given through Prophet Isiah. All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes rather than listening to and obeying God.
Even so, God kept sending His message through Prophet Isaiah:
Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth!
This is what the LORD says:
“The children I raised and cared for
have rebelled against me.
Even an ox knows its owner,
and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—
but Israel doesn’t know its master.
My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
Oh, what a sinful nation they are—
loaded down with a burden of guilt.
They are evil people,
corrupt children who have rejected the LORD.
They have despised the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on Him. (Isaiah 1:2-4)
Even animals knew their owner, but they were even worse than animals. Although they were God’s children, they refused to listen to God. They did not recognize God, and they rebelled against God.
How specifically did the people rebel against God? By not listening to and obeying God. They did not even recognize their sins and kept rebelling against God by continuing their wicked deeds before God.
Thus, God explicitly mentioned what they had to do.
Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
Learn to do good.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows. (Isaiah 1:16-17)
First, confess all sins committed to God so that God can clean them. Then sin no more. Why? Sin is the barrier between God and us, which completely severs the most beautiful relationship between God and us.
Before sinning, Adam and Eve used to talk directly to God as if they were talking to a close friend. And God directly spoke to them. God was their Father, and they were God’s most beloved children. Adam and Eve had no sin and no fear of God. However, sin destroyed the most beautiful relationship with God.
Please imagine today, at this moment, God comes down to us and reveals all things that we have done, including all thoughts in our hearts and minds we ever had. How shamefully fearful would it be? The entire world would know our sins in detail. It is not all. God will publicly judge all sins that we have ever committed one by one. Before Him, there will be no place to hide our sins, and then God, the righteous judge, will make us pay back all sins, tooth to tooth, eye to eye, with the measure that we use every day to settle all things on earth. It would be unbearable.
Will it be the end of God’s judgment, which we will get? Have you ever thought carefully about what kind of standard God will actually use against all our sins?
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The wages of sin are death. That is, we all be sentenced to death because none is without sin. Also, death is not an ordinary death but an eternal condemnation from God.
Additionally, from God’s point of view, even one sin is enough to sentence us to eternal condemnation. What’s the implication of this truth? There will be none who can escape from God’s judgment. And without exception, all will be sentenced to eternal condemnation in Hell, where nobody can get out forever.
Then will it be the end of the story of the entire humanity? No, God’s grace is greater than all our sins combined.
Out of His mercy, God sent Jesus Christ to save us. Through Him, God gave the free gift of eternal life. That is, it is free and nobody has to work to get the free gift of God. In other words, not by our own good deeds, but by God’s grace, we are saved from eternal condemnation. Nobody can indeed avoid God’s eternal condemnation, but through Jesus Christ, we can receive eternal life, which is the free gift of God.
Then what should we do, who grasp the enormous truth of God’s grace and have received God’s eternal life through Jesus Christ? In gratitude, we should live out Godly life.
Will it be easy to live out Godly life? No. As long as we are in this world, we will be continuously challenged and often struggle to live out Godly life, but we should not be dismayed because it is the evidence that we have faith in us. And it is precious to God’s eye.
Then, how do we know we really live Godly life? Search our hearts and lives to see whether we have helped those who cannot reciprocate our help. Again it is precious to God’s eye. Then we should remember what Jesus Christ said:
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6;1)
Jesus Christ warned us not to show up our generosity given to those who cannot pay back our charity given to them. If we publicly broadcast our good deeds, then others will praise what we have done. Then we might ask, “what’s wrong with this? “ Yes, it is nothing wrong on earth, but we will lose the eternal reward, which is much more precious and prepared by our Heavenly Father in heaven.
Here is a story about a wise boy who loves to go to a candy shop every day. One day, the candy shop owner told a small child to pick up candies as much as he could with his hand. But the small body did nothing while standing still. The owner, who was curious, asked why the body didn’t pick up the candies. The boy wisely answered, “Your hand is bigger than mine.”
If we truly believe in God and the glorious blessings only from God, then why do we desire to get praise from others? Again which one should we desire? Reward from others or God? Please choose wisely as the boy in the candy shop did.
Although God warned the people through Prophet Isaiah, nobody heard God. They kept living their sinful lives while following their own earthly desire. As Adam and Eve avoided God and hid from God after sinning, we all have been avoiding and hiding from God. Even so, God is tenaciously chasing us and is mercifully whispering to us, “Come, come to Me.” Why?
Nobody is sinless, and all will be eternally condemned. Many have tried to be sinless, but all failed. Some might be looking better than others, but none is sinless.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)
Thus, no one can come to God because of fearful eternal condemnation, which wages our sins. Thus, God says,
“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
God made His first move for all, both the people at that time and us living now on earth. God asks us to come to Him, not to condemn, but to settle all our sins and the consequences – our eternal death.
Some think our sins can be compensated for by doing good deeds, but it is not true. Doing good against our sins might make us feel good, but it does not eliminate our sins. Thus, our sin still remains in us no matter what we do. Then All sins will be judged by God and sentenced to eternal condemnation because the wage of sin is death. Another truth is that regardless of the size, magnitude, and the number of sins, we will all be equally sentenced to eternal death. Yes, it sounds unfair, but it is the truth.
Imagine pure white paper. Even a tiny drop of black ink on the paper ruins the purity of the white paper. Thus, God asks us not to sin at all and be pure, honorable, lovely, and admirable before men and God.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)
Isaiah, a truly faithful prophet, fervently prayed to God in the temple for God’s mercy on the people who kept living their sinful, wicked life before God while ignoring God’s warning message packed with mercy and grace. Then God revealed Himself to Prophet Isaiah to comfort Prophet Isaiah.
God was stilling on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings, they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3b)
The heavenly beings’ praises were not of the world. It was so powerful to shake the temple to its foundations. The entire temple was filled with smoke.
Isaiah found how sinful he was before God and said,
“It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the king, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Then Prophet Isaiah heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
And he said, “Yes, go, and say to this people,
‘Listen carefully, but do not understand.
Watch closely, but learn nothing.’
Harden the hearts of these people.
Plug their ears and shut their eyes.
That way, they will not see with their eyes,
nor hear with their ears,
nor understand with their hearts
and turn to me for healing.” (Isaiah 6:9,10)
Isaiah asked God, “Lord, how long will this go on?”
“Until their towns are empty,
their houses are deserted,
and the whole country is a wasteland;
until the LORD has sent everyone away,
and the entire land of Israel lies deserted.
If even a tenth—a remnant—survive,
it will be invaded again and burned.
But as a terebinth or oak tree
leaves a stump when it is cut down,
so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.” (Isaiah 6:11b-13)
The world has been going as they feel fit till reaching complete desolation, but God will never abandon the world. God promised to protect a holy seed for all, the light from God and Himself – the Savior.
Then Isaiah praised God by prophesizing:
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,d Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:6-7)
The above prophecy came true about 700 years later after Prophet Isaiah prophesized the Savior’s birth. The child is Jesus Christ, born about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, Judah. He is the Savior sent by God and God Himself to be the hope for all. Therefore, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will not never be condemned to eternal death but have eternal life. Praise God! We are freed from the bondage of sin forever.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)