The consequences of rejecting God

Hi friends,

Today’s lectionary reading from Isaiah 28 presents a stark warning to Israel’s leaders.

As I read Isaiah 28:1-13, I was struck by how Isaiah describes the consequences of rejecting God.

First, Isaiah courageously describes the problem:

Woe to the majestic crown of Ephraim’s drunkards,
and to the fading flower of its beautiful splendor,
which is on the summit above the rich valley.
Woe to those overcome with wine. (Isaiah 28:1 CSB).

The leaders of Israel are portrayed as drunkards who mock God’s word. Though they think of themselves as majestic, beautiful, and cultured, Isaiah exposes their disgrace:

all their tables are covered with vomit;
there is no place without a stench (Isaiah 28:8 CSB).

Isaiah’s challenge is not limited to political leaders; it extends to priests and prophets as well. Their intoxication blinds them to God, impairing their ability to discern right from wrong and to obey God:

Even these stagger because of wine
and stumble under the influence of beer:
Priest and prophet stagger because of beer.
They are confused by wine.
They stumble because of beer.
They are muddled in their visions.
They stumble in their judgments.

Isaiah challenges not just the political leaders but the priests and prophets. Because they are under the intoxicating influence of beer and wine, they can no longer see God, discern right and wrong, or obey God (verses 7-8).

Commentators suggest that verse 10 is the leaders’ taunt of Isaiah.

Derek Kidner writes:

The Hebrew of verse 10 is a jingle, almost the equivalent of our derisive ‘blah blah’, but not quite as meaningless…In other words, make nonsense of God’s sense and you will get your fill of it from Assyria (verse 11) and your doom from the words that were to save you (verses 12-13).

Because they refuse to listen to God’s kind and good word, they will be forced to listen to and obey the harsh commands of Assyrian taskmasters.

Isaiah’s message is clear: everyone listens to someone.

Who do we choose to listen to in our lives?

Are we drawn to God’s life-giving word or the empty promises of self-indulgence?

He had said to them,
“This is the place of rest;
let the weary rest;
this is the place of repose.”
But they would not listen (Isaiah 28:12 CSB)

God invites us to rest in His presence. It’s hard to confront self-indulgent political and religious leaders, challenging to seek God’s justice, and tempting to live for ourselves.

Yet, the cost of discipleship is a path to true peace and fulfillment. It’s exactly what Jesus said:

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 CSB).

The cost of following Jesus may be high, but it’s infinitely more rewarding than the fleeting pleasures of self-indulgence.

Rejecting God’s word leads to spiritual blindness and bondage, but embracing His guidance brings true freedom and rest.

Let us choose to listen to God and rest in his presence.