The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
I like the introduction – we met the writer, learn that he is telling us what he saw, that it concerned Judah and Jerusalem through the reign of four kings. Then he tells us how God sees His chosen people:
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (Isaiah 1:1-4 KJV)
There’s much more in the lesson – and I’ll most likely touch on some later, but I want to spend time with this “sinful nation.” Just the week before I had read a blog about The Banning of Sin:
The unbeliever would have us muzzled unless we paint a pretty picture of religion and stop talking about sin. We can't call sin, "sin". We can't state something is "wrong." We can't look like a Christian. We can't speak like a Christian. If we dare, there is a price. Ridicule, prejudice, even violence. . . . Christians are required by the current political climate to restrain their Christianity because the non-Christian, which includes the faithless and those of other faiths, are offended by Christianity.The Bible specifically states what is and is not sinful. Most of the explanations are in positive ways, such as Jesus’ description of biblical marriage (Matthew 19:3-6), as Adam described in Genesis 2:24. Unfortunately, that doesn’t match what people want today, so instead of changing, they negate the word of God.
There isn't a reason to keep a full list of sins available, but in a couple of verses, Paul offers short list he was inspired to write:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)
I believe he caught me in there with hatred (I’ve been guilty of that!), wrath (sorry – and I do apologize for the temper I display). Envy? Most of that is past. I feel a great contentment and certainly would not trade what I have for any other person’s. But, in the past, that one got me, too. Come on, you can admit it – to yourself at least, no need to tell us – you fit in there somewhere, too, don’t you? If we continue to do such things we shall not inherit the kingdom of God. He said so, not some mean Christian.
Why wouldn't we inherit? Because He knows what comes next is forsaking the Lord, just as Isaiah saw happen in Judah. Don’t believe it? Look at our own nation today. There is undeniably envy, strife and absolute sedition among a people that have declared God dead and banned the label “sin” as it applies to their lives. Or, as some have done, declared that God may live, but He accepts them and their chosen path – since all roads lead to Him.
Regrettably, that’s not biblical. I don’t know what book they are reading – or have re-written – but my Bible still says:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)
Good News Translation (GNT): For sin pays its wage—death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.
American Standard Version (ASV): For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
English Standard Version (ESV): For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV): When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. But God gives his people a free gift—eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.