Unless the LORD of hosts Had left us a few survivors, We would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.Isaiah 1:9(NASB)
Much Old Testament writing pronounces judgement on apostate Israel and the surrounding pagan nations. But it also declares many gracious promises of restoration and renewal, for the tiny body of Israelite believers who faithfully maintain their trust in God's Word and hold fast to their hope in Him.
The first chapter of Isaiah makes some very serious accusations against unbelieving Israel because of their utter failure to adhere to the Mosaic Covenant over centuries of time, and it details the serious, divine judgement that will one day fall upon God's people.
The heavens and earth are called to hearken to God's complaint against His errant nation, whom Isaiah describes as a people "laden with iniquity" and "a brood of evildoers." They have forsaken the Lord, turned away from His path, sinned greatly, and provoked Him to anger.
God accuses them of being a rebellious people who are sick from the top of their head to the sole of the foot and that there is nothing wholesome in them, for they are covered with "wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores." Sadly, God's people made no attempt to rectify this shocking situation, despite God's fierce anger against them.
It is unlikely that God could have offered a more gross or loathsome condemnation of His people than the accusations He levied in this first chapter of Isaiah. However, we also have the most beautiful glimpse of God's grace and glory shining through, as He pleads with His people to come and reason with Him.
Their disgusting behaviour and rank disobedience was so monstrous that God had to withhold His blessings from His people so that their land lay desolate, their cities were besieged, and their pasture was burned with fire. They had started to act in a manner that reflected the practices of the wicked cities that God destroyed with fire and brimstone.
Instead of Israel being a dignified and distinguished people, they are described by Isaiah as being like a gaunt vagabond left standing in a pile of rubbish: "Like a watchman's hut in a cucumber field!" Like the leaders of Sodom, Gomorrah, and other pagan cities that were destroyed, God's people had deteriorated into offering religious sacrifices without a heart that was open and obedient toward the Lord.
Had it not been for the long-suffering mercy and grace of God, the entire nations would have disintegrated into a most perverse and immoral people: "Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a few survivors," is the shocking conclusion, "Israel would be like Sodom, and would have become like Gomorrah."
As we reflect on the depraved state of the world today and the shockingly apostate condition of Christendom, we have to acknowledge that we are also living in perilous times, when men are lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal people, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – holding to a form of godliness, yet denying its power.
We are instructed to avoid such men as these, to trust in the Lord with all our heart, and hold fast to that which is good. May we take heed of the depths to which Israel fell and be diligent to be found by Him in peace. May we endeavour to be blameless before the Lord so that we may present ourselves approved to God as workmen who do not need to be ashamed, when we finally stand before Him.
Heavenly Father, as I read through Your Word, I realise how quickly and easily a man of God or a woman of faith can become derailed when they begin to follow the things of this world. Keep me low at the Cross, broken before You, and teach me the lessons You would have me learn from Your righteous dealings with Israel. Thank You that in Your grace, You still maintain a tiny remnant of believers that do not stray from the path of peace but stand firm on the Word of truth. I pray that I too may be counted among the remnant. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.