Scripture Text:(click to open in a new window)
1. Who was president or prime minister of your country when you were born? What were your parents doing for a living then?
2. As a teenager, over what issues would you rebel against your parents?
3. In reference to Question #3, how long did your rebellion last? When did you grow out of it? (or did you ever?)
4. Isaiah’s ministry spanned the reign of four kings of Judah (almost 50 years). What do you know about the reigns of Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26)? Of Jotham (2 Chronicles 27)? Of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28)? Of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29, 31, and 32)? How would you sum up what was going on in Judah during their reigns?
5. Chapters 1 – 5 contain sermons that at some time Isaiah preached to the people. Though not arranged in chronologically, they introduce major themes to be developed throughout the book. What is the purpose of God calling heaven and earth to witness His complaint against His covenant people? What is His case against them (verses 2 – 4)?
6. What is their pitiable condition like? What sympathy do they get (verses 5 and 6)? What is going on in their country (verses 7 – 9; see also 2 Kings 16:5, 6 and 2 Kings 18:9 – 16)?
7. God compares the people of Judah with Sodom and Gomorrah (verses 9 – 20). What is the point of the comparison?
8. The Jewish people loved the feasts, ceremonies, and sacrifices. Then how come God took no pleasure in their sacrifices? Why are they “meaningless” and “evil”?
9. What does God call the people to do (verses 16 and 17)? What does God promise in accordance with their repentance? What’s happening in Judah that accounts for this call and promise (verses 15b, 21 – 23)?
10. Given their religious rituals (verses 11 – 15), how does the secular image of adultery (verse 21) fit their spiritual state? Likewise, how do “scarlet” and “red” fit? What is the condition upon which the forgiveness of their sins rests?
11. What is the purpose of the judgment awaiting those who forsake the Lord (verse 24 – 31)? What is the future for those who are penitent? How will it be different from their present situation?
12. Was there a time in your life when religion was meaningless? What changed your mind, or does it tend to be that way now? Why?
13. Is mere sincerity what counts with God (see Romans 2:17 – 24, 28, 29)? What could make your worship more meaningful?
14. Karl Marx said that religion is “the opiate of the masses” to numb them to the evils going on around them. In what sense is Isaiah saying something similar? What should be the result of worshipping God?
15. Some define spirituality in personal, moral terms. While others see it as a matter or working for social justice. Which better reflects your background? Your present church affiliation? How are both these concerns interrelated in this chapter?
16. How is your church seeking justice and encouraging the oppressed in your community? What situations ought it to address? What risks would that entail?
17. Someone has said, “justice is finding out what belongs to whom and returning it to them.” Another, “justice is the act of instituting love for those people you who don’t know.” How do you respond to these statements? How would you define justice?
18. Why is Isaiah so hard-hitting in his message? How do you know when to use shock treatment as he does, or a gentle word without skirting the main issue, as does Jesus with the Samaritan woman (John 4)?