Throughout the Bible, God asks many times for mankind to trust in Him implicitly, putting their full trust in His divine being, and points the folly of trusting in mankind.
Even the very centre verse of the Bible and the very verse following, the counsel is given, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” – Psalm 118:8,9
So often one of the greatest battles God has had with His people, is them turning away from His express command of how to truly worship Him, and going after other forms of worship. So often those forms of worship, while inspired by the devil, were conceived and made popular by mankind taking the shape of whatever may strike the imagination, but usually always uncouth and hideous to disgrace humanity.
In all the history of Israel it so often became so infected with false worship and idolatry that God likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah being a harlot, among many other names! By the time we get to the time of Isaiah, the ten tribes of Israel had gone, and God was about to bring the judgment hammer down on Judah and Jerusalem to be humiliated by Assyria and later Babylon. Their worship was a disgrace to God and He gives severe denunciation on His people.
Chapter one opens with Judah and Jerusalem in rebellion and what God thought of their rebellion. He is fed up with their profession of worship. He tells them they are laden with iniquity, the seed of evildoers, a source of corruption and their sacrifices are just a stink to Him. They will be left desolate, their cities will be burnt with fire and the land will be given over to strangers who will devour it in their presence. And Jerusalem will be left as a little shade shack in a field of cucumbers – very humbled. But in all that thunderous reprimand, there is still compassion on God's part. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” – Isaiah 1:18,19
By the time we get to chapter two, God tries to encourage His people upward to achieve what they could if they would only respond to His call. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” – Isaiah 2:2-5
Here there is power for Judah and Jerusalem. If they will welcome their God into their hearts, He will do great and mighty things for them. But again God has to deal with the present. Judah is in no fit state to receive God's smile of approval.
“Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low.” – Isaiah 2:6-12
Again God is extremely disappointed because His people have sourced their spiritual strength from soothsayers practising spiritualism from the Philistines and they have sought their pleasures from strangers. They draw from a land saturated in wealth, there is no need for faith because there is no trial. But not only is the land of Philistine wealthy, it is also corrupt with idols and they worship the work of their own hands – Judah likewise takes part in it.
God tells His people to hide in the rocks and cover themselves with the dust of the earth in disgrace because they can in no way face the glory of God in His majesty and purity in their present state. Those who are so proud of their achievements, and who have lead the people after them, will be humbled, taken down and brought low and God will ultimately be exalted.
Lessons for Us
It would do us well to take a leaf out of the counsel here given. Jesus Himself said while in ministry on this earth, “ Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes” – Matthew 21:42
And Paul leaves us in no doubt as to who that corner stone is, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. – Ephesians 2:20
Paul also emphasises who the rock of our salvation is. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 10:1-4
If man continues to stubbornly walk in His own path, following the devising of men, and does not enter into that Rock, Christ Jesus, they will be calling for the rocks of the earth to fall on them. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” – Revelation 6:15-17
God Gives Ample Warning
“For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake the terrible the earth.” – Isaiah 2:12-21
God Means Every Word
In these verses, God surely warns of the certainty to humble pride. One may wonder why trees and hills would be disgraced and brought down. Worship, when taken from its true setting in God's sanctuary, was often transitioned into groves of trees and the high places of the earth – the hills of the earth, and the worship of nature instead of the God of nature. God is not impressed, and further, will not tolerate this wickedness against His express command of worship. His name alone will be exalted and all idolatry will be completely destroyed when God shakes the earth terribly. In fact God is so adamant about it, He repeats it again in verses 20 and 21. If man will continue to worship this dead, senseless work of men's hands, their idols made of what they consider extremely valuable silver and gold will be thrown to the moles and bats, and the people themselves will run to the crevices of the rocks in fear of God, when He shakes the earth.With the double emphasis on what He will do to those who persist in worshipping idols, God will attempt to wake up all Judah to their folly. Already this wandering away from God should be an extreme embarrassment to this chosen people of God. Their apostasy has gone far and wide. Right at the outset of the book, Isaiah tells us how far this reprimand is going. “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. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken.” – Isaiah 1:1,2
While we cannot know how far reaching it has gone in heaven, we certainly know it has reached far and wide in earth. Even still today here on earth, we read of the terrible apostasy of Judah, and it has been recorded for every generation to read from 700 BC to our day.
Man is surely able to achieve wonderful feats. One need only look in the world to realise the amazing achievements man has reached. It can be in the field of engineering, entertainment or sport, to name a few. This certainly does attract admiration of fellow human beings, and much respect is gained, but caution must be exercised, as men or women who build such a reputation can become idols to society, or even worse, claim they are like God. But if these accomplishments are achieved by mankind's own merits, without any recognition to God, it is man's achievement only.
From What Plane are we Seeking?
Man going to man for counsel and edification is seeking counsel from a horizontal plane – learning one from another, but reaching no higher. But the Christian who has found God and gained a higher knowledge, is in serious danger of seeking spiritual counsel from those who know Him not. Christianity is to lift mankind higher. For us to go to man who knows not Christ for our counsel is a descending plane, and the last verse of Isaiah 2 clearly states what God thinks of the counsel of man. “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” – Isaiah 2:22
God so often called His people to put their trust in Him and turn away from the manmade inventions and imaginations – yes, idols – even in our day. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7
God wants far more for His people. He doesn't want them to travel on a descending plane, or what we call in our modern vocabulary ‘a slippery slope’ for their moral advancement and knowledge. No, He wants them to look upwards on a vertical plane. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” – Luke 21:28. Surely it doesn’t need much observation to see the end of the world is upon us. Now is the time to cease from man. Look up! Jesus is coming and He is our salvation from above.
In Isaiah Chapter 1, God asks a question of His people in wonderment. These are His chosen people, the people who have had great light, who have had Jesus revealed to them, and asked to bring to the world a knowledge of the Saviour. Now they are grovelling in the wretchedness of this world. “How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” – Isaiah 1:21
Fearful judgments were to come upon the rebellious, to get His people to take their eyes off man, to take their eyes off the things of this world and renew their trust in their God, and so the counsel is for us as well. “We are to remember that human beings are fallible and erring, and that He who has all power is our strong tower of defence. In every emergency we are to feel that the battle is His. – Prophets and Kings , page 02
Lift up your heads, lift them up to see the greatness of God, turn away from fallible humanity, to the everlasting arms of our God. He will be there for you every time. He never makes a promise without keeping it. “Jesus has been over the ground. He knows the power of every temptation. He knows just how to meet every emergency, and how to guide you through every path of danger. Then why not trust Him? Why not commit the keeping of our soul unto God, as unto a faithful Creator?” – Review & Herald, July 19, 1892
One Way of Gaining Unity
“Let us diligently cultivate the pure principles of the gospel of Christ - the religion, not of self-esteem, but of love, meekness, and lowliness of heart. Then we shall love our brethren, and esteem them better than ourselves. Our minds will not dwell on scandal and lying reports. But ‘whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ‘
“As a people, we have been reproved by God for doing so little. How important then that we guard carefully against everything that might dishearten or weaken the influence of one soul who is doing a work that God would have them do. There are victories to be gained if we present a united front and individually seek the Lord for strength and guidance.” —Testimonies to Ministers, page 505
Now is the time to leave off any dead idols and work for our living God.
Finally brethren and sisters, “Cease ye from man...” – Isaiah 2:22