The Passion Translation
1 Here is the vision[a] that Isaiah,[b] the son of Amoz, received by divine revelation concerning what was going to happen to Judah and Jerusalem during the times of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.[c]
A Nation in Rebellion
2 Listen, O heavens! Hear,[d] O earth!
For the Lord Yahweh has spoken:[e]
“I tenderly nurtured children and made them great,[f]
but they have rebelled[g] against me!
3 Even a dumb ox instinctively knows its owner
and the stubborn mule knows the hand that feeds him,[h]
but Israel does not know me[i]
nor do my people understand.”[j]
4 Oh,[k] how this nation keeps sinning!
See them dragging the heavy burden of their guilt!
They are corrupt children, descendants of evildoers.
They have turned their backs on the Lord God
and despised the Holy One of Israel![l]
They have cut themselves off from the help of God![m]
5 Why would you seek to be injured further?
Why would you stubbornly continue in your rebellion?[n]
Your whole head is sick,[o]
and your heart and your will are weak and faint.
6 You are corrupt from the bottom of your feet
to the top of your head. There is no integrity—[p]
nothing but bruises, putrefying sores, and raw open wounds!
They have not been drained or bandaged or soothed with oil.[q]
7 Your country is devastated
and your cities burned to the ground;[r]
foreigners plunder your crops before your eyes—
with nothing but devastation and destruction in their wake![s]
8 And the daughter of Zion[t] is left as helpless as
a deserted shack in a vineyard or
like a flimsy shelter in a field of cucumbers—
in every way like a city besieged![u]
9 If the Lord of Angel Armies[v] had not left us survivors,
our fate would have been the same as Sodom and Gomorrah![w]
Justice, Not Hypocritical Worship
10 Hear the word of Yahweh:[x]
“You leaders of Sodom, heed the correction[y] of our God!
People of Gomorrah, you’d better listen to his rebuke.”
11 And Yahweh keeps saying:
“Why such countless sacrifices—what use are they to me?
I’ve had my fill of your burnt offerings of rams
and your fattened animals.[z]
I find no delight in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats!
12 When you come before my face,
who asked you to come trampling on my courtyards?
13 Stop bringing your meaningless offerings.[aa]
Your burning incense stinks!
Your sin-stained celebrations,[ab]
your new moon festivals, Sabbaths,
your various pious meetings—I can’t stand them!
14 With all my soul[ac] I hate
your new moon festivals and your feasts;[ad]
they are nothing but a burden
that I’m sick and tired of carrying.
15 When you stretch out your hands to pray,
I will hide my eyes from you.[ae]
Repeat your prayers all you want, but I will not listen,
for your hands are stained with innocent blood.
16 Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean.
Remove your evil actions from my sight
and stop sinning![af]
17 Learn what it means to do what is good
by seeking righteousness and justice!
Rescue the oppressed.[ag] Uphold the rights of the fatherless
and defend the widow’s cause.[ah]
18 Come now and let’s deliberate over the next steps to take together.[ai]
Yahweh promises you over and over:[aj]
“Though your sins stain you like scarlet,[ak]
I will whiten them like bright, new-fallen snow!
Even though they are deep red like crimson,[al]
they will be made white like wool!”[am]
19 If you have a willing heart to let me help you,
and if you will obey me, you will feast on the blessings
of an abundant harvest.[an]
20 But if you are stubborn and refuse to obey,
the sword will eat you instead.”[ao]
The mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”
The Collapse of Society
21 Look how the once faithful city
has become as unfaithful as a prostitute!
She who was once the “Center of Justice,”
where righteousness made its home,
is now the dwelling place of murderers![ap]
22 She was once like sterling silver, now only mixture;
once so pure, now diluted like watered-down wine.[aq]
23 Your rulers are rebellious and companions of crooks.
They are self-centered racketeers
who love a bribe and who chase after payoffs.
They don’t defend the fatherless
or consider the rights of a helpless widow.
24 Therefore, here is what the Sovereign One decrees,
the Lord God of Angel Armies, the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah,[ar] I will get relief from my adversaries
and avenge myself on my foes![as]
25 I will bring my fiery hand upon you
and burn you and purify you into something clean.”[at]
God Promises Deliverers
26 “I will restore deliverers as in former times
and your wise counselors as at the beginning.[au]
Only then will you be called the Righteous City
and the Faithful City!”[av]
27 Yes, Zion will be redeemed with justice
and her repentant converts with righteousness.[aw]
28 There will be a shattering of rebels and sinners together,
and those who forsake the Lord will be consumed.
29 You will reap shame from the idols you once delighted in
and you will be humiliated by your cultic sacred groves,[ax]
where you chose to worship.
30 You will be like an oak tree with faded, fallen leaves
and like a withered, waterless garden.
31 The “powerful elite” will become like kindling
and their evil deeds like sparks—both will burn together
and no one will be able to put out the fire.
- Isaiah 1:1 Or “prophecy.” This refers to the entire book as a divine revelation from God. The Hebrew word chazown means to see spiritually, to have a revelation or dream, or to receive an oracle. This word was commonly used to describe how the prophets received divine communication.
- Isaiah 1:1 It is believed that Isaiah was an aristocrat, a member of the royal family and the nephew of King Uzziah. His father, Amoz, was the brother of King Amaziah.
- Isaiah 1:1 Even the names mentioned in v. 1 have something to teach us. Isaiah means “Yahweh is salvation (victory).” Amoz means “to be made strong or courageous.” Judah means “praise.” Jerusalem means “the teaching of peace (wholeness).” Isaiah prophesied during the reign of Uzziah (“the power of Yahweh” or “mighty is Yahweh”), Jotham (“the one Yahweh makes perfect” or “Yahweh is upright”), Ahaz (“possessor” or “to lay hold of”), and Hezekiah (“strengthened by Yahweh” or “the one Yahweh makes firm”). Here is what the meanings of the names of v. 1 teach us: We can see that prophetic vision from a courageous prophet imparts the power of Yahweh, which releases those whom Yahweh makes perfect to maturity. They will be possessors and those who lay hold of heaven’s promises until they are strengthened by Yahweh and made firm in all their ways! All of this will take place in the land of praise and in the teaching of peace.
- Isaiah 1:2 The Hebrew is literally “ear me.”
- Isaiah 1:2 God summons into his courtroom his two witnesses (Deut. 19:15), the heavens and the earth, concerning God’s seven-count indictment against Israel for breaking covenant with him. See Deut. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 32:1; Ps. 50:4; Jer. 2:12.
- Isaiah 1:2 Or “raised them up high (exalted).” The words translated as “nurtured” and “made them great” are two Hebrew synonyms that could be translated “exalt, advance, set on high, mature, increase, magnify, promote, raise up, and cause to grow.” This is what Father God will do for his children. In the book of Isaiah, God’s love toward Israel is displayed in a threefold way: He is Father (Isa. 1:2-3; 63:16; 64:8), a nursing Mother (66:12-13), and a Husband (54:5). God was Israel’s Father, Mother, and Husband.
- Isaiah 1:2 The Hebrew word for “rebelled” Ipasha’) indicates the breaking of a contract. The covenant Israel entered into with Yahweh was broken by their idolatry and unbelief. It was as though God’s children disowned their Father.
- Isaiah 1:3 Or “where to find its master’s feeding trough (crib).” God is showing that “dumb” animals have more devotion to their masters than God’s people have toward him.
- Isaiah 1:3 Although implied in the Hebrew, both the Latin Vulgate and the Septuagint (LXX) have “know me.” The Hebrew word for “know” is yada’ and refers to having a personal, intimate relationship with someone. God’s people had no intimacy with God, seemingly unaware of the incredible opportunity to be intimate with the God of heaven. At least the donkey knows where his master will feed him, while God’s people do not understand where they can be fed and strengthened by the Word and by the Spirit. It is time to know the Master and his manger. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus was laid in a donkey’s manger at his birth? The “owner’s manger” is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has come to feed us his living Bread.
- Isaiah 1:3 That is, “My people neither understand my ways nor how kind I am.”
- Isaiah 1:4 Or “Alas” or “Woe.” The Hebrew word (hoy) was used at funerals as a lament.
- Isaiah 1:4 This is Isaiah’s favorite title of God; he uses it twenty-six times in this book. Twenty-six is the numerical value of the Hebrew name for God, YHWH (Yahweh).
- Isaiah 1:4 Or “They are utterly estranged (alienated from God)” or “They have gone backward (running away from God).”
- Isaiah 1:5 Or “Why, knowing you’ll be beaten again, do you rebel again?” This is more the lament of a loving father than the indictment of a judge. The broken heart of God toward his wayward people is revealed.
- Isaiah 1:5 The “head” speaks of at least two things: the leadership of the nation and the thoughts that have turned from God.
- Isaiah 1:6 Their wounded “feet” speak of their walking away from God; the top of the head represents their thought life that crowded out God.
- Isaiah 1:6 Yet, if we turn to God, he will bandage our wounds and bring us healing (Luke 4:18; 10:34). Jesus was wounded from head to toe, bruised and beaten, to bring us life and healing. Jesus took all the punishment described in this chapter, and he took it all for us.
- Isaiah 1:7 This was literally fulfilled about 175 years after this prophetic declaration with the invasion of Babylon in 586 BC. See Jer. 25.
- Isaiah 1:7 God’s judgment takes the form of military invasion and destruction.
- Isaiah 1:8 Even during devastation, God calls his people the “daughter of Zion.” God’s people are his daughter, born out of Zion, the holy realm. Instead of being his dwelling place, they have become like a flimsy hut. The work of God, as seen in the book of Isaiah, is to restore this “hut” to the place of the divine shelter or dwelling place (see Isa. 66). Even the besieged city will one day become the New Jerusalem, where God and humanity mingle as one.
- Isaiah 1:8 Isaiah may be prophesying of the coming Assyrian invasion of Judah under King Sennacherib. See Isa. 36–37.
- Isaiah 1:9 Or “the Lord of every sort of host” or “Yahweh, who is hosts.”
- Isaiah 1:9 But mercy won and took dominion over judgment (James 2:13). God will leave survivors, a remnant in the land. A “holy seed” (Isa. 6:13) will spring up. The “remnant” is an important theme found in the message of the prophets (Isa. 6:13; 10:20-22; 11:11-13, 16; Jer. 6:9; 23:3; 31:7; Mic. 2:12; Zech. 8:12) and Paul (Rom. 9:27-29; 11:5). The theology of God preserving a remnant meant so much to Isaiah that he named one of his sons Shear-Jashub, “a remnant will return” (Isa. 7:3).
- Isaiah 1:10 Isaiah uses this command twenty-three times in this book.
- Isaiah 1:10 Although the Hebrew uses the word torah (“law, instruction”), it is used in the context to mean “correction or rebuke.”
- Isaiah 1:11 Outward sacrifices are empty if there is no inward reality (Ps. 51:16-17; Mic. 6:6-8; Matt. 23:23). God cannot be bought. He looks at the heart and requires offerings given in holiness and truth. The sacrifice of a fattened animal is an outward picture of what God wants to do inside of us. He wants to kill that “fattened” part of us that is stuffed only with the letter of the Word but not the humility taught by the Word (Deut. 8:2-3; 2 Chron. 7:14; Isa. 66:2; James 1:21).
- Isaiah 1:13 Or “your gifts of nothing.”
- Isaiah 1:13 Or “iniquity and obligatory assemblies,” a likely hendiadys. See also Jer. 7:11.
- Isaiah 1:14 God has a soul with emotions and desires. He is perfect throughout.
- Isaiah 1:14 God calls them “your feasts,” not his (Lev. 23:2). Their celebrations had become so shame-fully sin-stained that God didn’t even want his holy name associated with their sinful conduct on those sacred days. See Amos 5:21– 24.
- Isaiah 1:15 See 1 Tim. 2:8; Ps. 66:18.
- Isaiah 1:16 This was also the message of John the Baptizer (Matt. 3:8).
- Isaiah 1:17 Or “Vindicate the victim.”
- Isaiah 1:17 See Ps. 9:18; Isa. 58:7; Jer. 22:16; James 1:27.
- Isaiah 1:18 Or “Come now and let us argue it out together.” This is taken from the Hebrew word yākah, which has clear judicial overtones with an implication of a verdict in court.
- Isaiah 1:18 Instead of pronouncing judgment to the guilty, Judge-Yahweh, in his grace and mercy, offers complete forgiveness.
- Isaiah 1:18 The Hebrew for “scarlet” is taken from a root word for “double (dyed)” or “twice (dipped in scarlet dye),” making a permanent color.
- Isaiah 1:18 The word for “crimson” (Heb. tola) is also the word for a worm that, when crushed, bleeds a deep crimson color and is then used to dye fabric a permanent color. Jesus called himself a “worm (tola)” while on the cross, as one who was crushed and bleeding crimson blood. See Ps. 22:6.
- Isaiah 1:18 Snow and wool are both naturally white. The Lord will not only deal with our outward sins but he will cleanse our nature, changing us from the inside out. Grace includes full amnesty.
- Isaiah 1:19 Or “the best of the land.” For the believer today, this is the land of grace that the meek inherit. The best of the land is the fruit of the life of Jesus (Gal. 5:22, the harvest of the Spirit). The devouring sword is the flashing sword of the Word, exposing and piercing us to the innermost part of our being (Heb. 4:12).
- Isaiah 1:20 The Hebrew text contains an obvious wordplay. “If you listen, you will eat the harvest; if you rebel, you will be eaten by the sword.”
- Isaiah 1:21 Or “those who cause to execute,” a possible indictment of judges who condemned the innocent to death.
- Isaiah 1:22 What was silver (redemption) has now become dross. The choice wine (fullness and gifts of the Spirit) has become watered down and unintelligible. The gifts of God have been diluted by fleshly lives that did not measure up to the standard of holiness—the choice wine of the Spirit ruined (watered down) by the works of the flesh.
- Isaiah 1:24 Or “Woe!” The Septuagint reads “Woe to those who have power in Israel.”
- Isaiah 1:24 Sadly, because the once faithful people and their leaders turned away from what is right, God now calls them his “adversaries” and his “foes.” To fight against the sovereign God means that he may turn and fight against you.
- Isaiah 1:25 The Septuagint adds a sentence not found in Hebrew: “I will destroy those who refuse to obey and remove the lawbreakers from your midst.” The Hebrew is “I will turn my hand against you and smelt away all your dross and remove your alloy.”
- Isaiah 1:26 God promises a restoration of deliverers (Obad. 21) or “judges” and “wise counselors.” Apostolic judges and prophetic counselors are on their way. They are sent to challenge the status quo and make us consider our ways. The result of their needed ministries is that God’s people will become the Righteous City and be restored to be the City (Church) of Faithfulness. This is Isaiah’s glimpse of the New Jerusalem, the Bridal City coming to the earth. It will be a “City of Righteousness,” for God will dwell with his people.
- Isaiah 1:26 See also Gal. 4:26.
- Isaiah 1:27 The Septuagint uses the word mercy.
- Isaiah 1:29 The Hebrew word for “sacred groves” (or “terebinth”) rhymes with the Hebrew word for “false gods.” It is a play on words that is common to the prophets. The Baal cult worshiped at the groves of sacred oaks. See Ezek. 6:13; 20:28; Hos. 4:13.