The Sins of Judah
In about 740 BC, God anointed a sophisticated and erudite man named Isaiah to be a prophet to Judah, and the first thing He asked him to do was to search out the land and compile a spiritual inventory of the sins of the people.
God knew the sins. This was His way of acquainting Isaiah with them first hand.
Isaiah’s subsequent report was startling and heartbreaking. It clearly revealed that the people whom God had so richly blessed had turned their back on Him and His Word.
And since these are the sins that motivated God to destroy the nation, the city and the temple He loved so much, we should pay close attention to what they were.
Isaiah’s report is found in chapter 5 of his writings, and he begins in verse 7 with the sin of injustice:
“He [God] expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.”
Next, he mentioned greed: (5:8)
“You buy up property so others have no place to live. Your homes are built on great estates so you can be alone in the midst of the earth!”
The next sin he discovered was pleasure-seeking: (5:12)
“They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties — lyre and harp, tambourine and flute — but they never think about the LORD or notice what He is doing.”
The fourth sin he reported was blasphemy: (5:19)
“They even mock the Holy One of Israel and dare the Lord to punish them. ‘Hurry up and punish us, O Lord,’ they say. ‘We want to see what you can do!'”
Next, Isaiah pointed to the shocking sin of moral perversion: (5:20)
“They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”
Isaiah lamented the sin of intellectual pride: (5:21)
“Woe to those who are wise and shrewd in their own eyes!”
Next, Isaiah identified the sin of intemperance: (5:22)
“Woe to those who are “heroes” when it comes to drinking and boast about the liquor they can hold.”
The final sin identified by Isaiah was political corruption: (5:23)
“They take bribes to pervert justice, letting the wicked go free and putting innocent men in jail.”
Isaiah concluded his list with a summary statement that identified the fundamental reason for all the sins: (5:24)
“…they have thrown away the laws of God and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”
So, the eight sins of Judah that Isaiah reported were: Injustice, Greed, Pleasure-Seeking, Blasphemy, Moral Perversion, Intellectual Pride, Intemperance and Political Corruption. All of which he asserted were produced by contempt for the Word of God.
Isaiah also reported that all his calls to repentance were met with scoffing and frivolity (22:12-13):
“The Lord God called you to repent, to weep and mourn, to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins, and to wear clothes made of sackcloth to show your remorse. But instead, you sing and dance and play, and feast and drink. ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry,’ you say: ‘What’s the difference, for tomorrow we die.'”
Isaiah responded to this crass indifference with a strong warning: (5:26-30)
“God will send a signal to the nations far away, whistling to those at the ends of the earth, and they will come racing toward Jerusalem…Their arrows are sharp; their bows are bent; sparks fly from their horses’ hoofs, and the wheels of their chariots spin like the wind. They roar like lions and pounce upon the prey. They seize my people and carry them off into captivity with none to rescue them.”
Sixty years later, God called a young priest named Jeremiah to do the same thing he had requested of Isaiah. He asked him to go forth and make an inventory of the sins of Judah.
When he reported back to God, he listed the same sins as Isaiah, but he added three new ones.
The first was immorality. This, of course, had been hinted at in Isaiah’s accusation of moral perversion. But Jeremiah got specific: (5:7-8)
He declared that God had fed His people until they were full, but they thanked Him by “committing adultery and lining up at the brothels.” He added, “They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for his neighbor’s wife.”
The second sin Jeremiah detected was religious corruption: (5:30-31)
“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land — the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way!”
The third sin he added to the growing list was closed minds: (6:10-11)
He declared the people do not listen when God speaks: “Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear. They scorn the word of the Lord. They don’t want to listen at all.”
Jeremiah then concluded with three powerful summary statements:
- “Their faces are harder than rock” (5:3).
- “They have a stubborn and rebellious heart” (5:23).
- “They do not know how to blush” (6:15).
Jeremiah issued a called to repentance, coupled with a stern warning (6:26):
“Oh, my people, dress yourselves in burlap and sit among the ashes. Mourn and weep bitterly, as for the loss of an only son. For suddenly the destroying armies will be upon you!”
But the people of Judah were so caught up in rebellion that they refused to repent, and they scoffed at the warning, responding by shouting, “The Temple, the Temple, the Temple!” (Jeremiah 7:4).
What they meant by this taunt was that they did not believe God would ever destroy their nation and their capital city because the Shekinah Glory of God rested in their Temple.
Meanwhile, while God was speaking through prophetic voices, calling the people to repentance and warning them of an ultimate judgment, He was simultaneously inflicting the nation with remedial judgments.
These are judgments designed to humble people and motivate them to think with an eternal perspective.
Before they entered the Promised Land, God had warned them through Moses that if they were not faithful to His commandments, they would suffer remedial judgments to call them to repentance. These judgments are listed in detail in Deuteronomy 28, and they include such things as crop failures, rebellion of teenagers, an epidemic of divorce, rampant disease, confusing government policies, defeats by enemies, foreign domination and the ultimate judgment — exile from the land.
But the people of Judah were set in their sins, and Jeremiah therefore declared that their “wound was incurable” (Jeremiah 10:19).
The result was the Babylonian conquest of the nation and its capital in 586 BC, resulting in most of the people being carried away into captivity.
God in His mercy allowed them to return 70 years later, but during the next 400 years, they persisted in their sins, and so, in 70 AD, God allowed them to be conquered by the Romans and dispersed worldwide, just as He had warned.
This sordid history of a richly blessed people rebelling against their God who had blessed them so overwhelmingly is summed up in two very sad verses in which you can almost hear the Lord weeping (2 Chronicles 36:15-16):
15) And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;
16) but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, until there was no remedy.
In the fifth part of our series concerning America’s destiny, we will discover how God deals with rebellious nations.
Dr. Reagan’s article is also available in video! To obtain your copy, order via our online store the God’s Prophetic Voices to America 2018 Bible Conference DVD Album.