76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus

Sermon 34 - Isaiah’s struggle against social evils and sacrifices.

July 14th, 1960

Received by Dr Samuels

Washington D.C.


I am here, Jesus.

Isaiah’s main efforts towards lifting up his people were directed to a more acceptable attitude towards life, not only in the area of strict morality and in habit, but also in the realization that the God of Israel was a Holy God - a God of absolute righteousness who was God not only of the Hebrews but of the whole world and the universe, such as was known of it at the time.

Among the social evils Isaiah condemned was the provocative dress worn by the aristocratic women of Jerusalem. The prophet felt that it was wrong for certain women, because of their wealth, to strut through the streets of the city displaying their charms for the purpose of seductiveness and as a lure for men to sin:

“Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, Walking and mincing as they go, And making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab. … Instead of sweet spices there shall be rottenness; And instead of a girdle, rags; And instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; Branding instead of beauty.”

(Isaiah 3: 16 - 17, 24)

Another evil practice, which rich Judeans were guilty of, was that of buying up real property, so that the poorer man had no chance to own a plot of land for himself. Since Judah was very small, acquisition of land for monopolistic purposes created a terrible hardship, especially for farmers who were driven to give up their holdings through rapacious maneuvers, including violent means, the bribing of unscrupulous judges, and foreclosures on loans. The result was that poor farmers were impoverished and forced to come to Jerusalem to live a marginal existence in any way available. Thus did Isaiah warn the rulers and people of this vicious practice:

“Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, Till there be no room, and ye be made to dwell, Alone in the midst of the land; In mine ears, said the Lord of hosts; Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, Even great and fair, without inhabitant. For ten acres of vineyard shalt yield one bath, And the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah.”

(Isaiah 5: 8 - 10)

In addition, strong drink, even in Isaiah’s day, was a contributing factor in the demoralization of the people. Hosea had already pointed out that “harlotry, wine and the new wine take away the heart.” (Hosea 4: 11) Thus had the Nazirite and Rechabite cults been formed prohibiting wine and drink. But Isaiah, with his keen sense of perceiving the destructive practices in the land, brought under fire the habit among the wealthier class to become intoxicated and to shun work, in indulgence and carousing, especially the Lord’s Work. Condemned in Isaiah’s tirade are the fake prophets and the priests, who actually reeled along the streets intoxicated, and defiled not only the dinner table, but also the table of the shewbread in the Temple and the altars, supposedly sacred unto them:

“Even these also reel with wine, and stagger with strong drink; Both priest and prophet reel with strong drink, They are swallowed up by wine, they stagger with strong drink, They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, So that there is no place clean.”

(Isaiah 28: 7 - 8)

Isaiah was very much like Amos and Hosea in his disapproval of the type of ritual connected with the worship of the Lord. Speaking for God, Hosea had declared:

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

(Hosea 6: 6)

And Amos, you may remember, said:

“I hate, I despise your feasts, And I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; Neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts… . But let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

(Amos 5: 21 - 22, 24)

This refusal of sacrifice by God, as the spiritual knowledge of Amos truly makes clear, was not merely refusal because of deterioration of the ritual, but of ritual itself. For God delivered the Hebrews out of the wilderness perils for forty years after the exodus from Egypt without ritual. For God said, through Amos:

“Did ye bring unto Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O House of Israel?”

(Amos 5: 25)

And Isaiah, as he was told spiritually, knew that Amos was right, and he wrote against sacrifices in very much the same manner. Ritual slaughter was futile and meaningless, but when injustice and bloodshed are added, God averts His face, so to speak, or is repelled. The people, prophets, priests and rulers all had to be taught that ritual was no substitute for righteousness:

“What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices? saith the Lord. I have had My fill of the burnt offerings of rams, And the fat of fed beasts; And I take no delight in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My Courts? Bring Me no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; …. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; Yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; Your hands are full of blood.”

(Isaiah 1: 11 - 13, 15)

I have purposely italicized the line “…who hath required this at your hand, to tread My Courts?” to emphasize that God, speaking through the prophet, had never told the priests to sacrifice animals, or any living creature, either as an offering for sin or as a firstling for appeasement or redemption (where the first of the crops, or living beings, belong to God), or for adoration or any other purpose. In addition, if worshippers came to prayer, but with evil in their hearts, He would reject their prayers, for such prayers could come only from the mind and offered for ostentation and public approbation, and could never come from the heart in sincerity, remorse and love. The passage does not mean that sacrifice was acceptable unto the Lord if the worshipper came with a pure heart. Sacrifice has never been approved by Him, and can never be used instead of heartfelt and sincere prayer to Him. And thus, like Amos, Isaiah ended his sermon in the same way: a tremendous appeal by God, through His prophet, to live the true religion that God revealed to the Hebrews earlier with Moses - the religion of doing what is right in the sight of God:

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before My Eyes; Cease to do evil, learn to do good. Seek justice, relieve the oppressed; Be fair to the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

(Isaiah 1: 16 - 17)

Jesus of the Bible


Master of the Celestial Heavens