The 66 chapters of Isaiah represent a complete presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It will include the announcement of the one who was crushed for our transgressions and was beaten for our iniquities. The book begins, however, at the same place the preaching of John the Baptist began, and Jesus’ message began. They preached “repentance.” In Deuteronomy, Moses calls heaven and earth as witnesses to the covenant the children of Israel entered into with God. Deuteronomy 4:26 says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” They agreed to keep the commands and statutes of the Lord. They broke their covenant with God and worshipped other Gods and were expelled from the Promised Land. But there is still hope. Isaiah’s message comes to Judah while they are still living in the land and they still have time to repent. So in Isaiah 1:2, he calls on the witnesses to testify, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.’”

Several commentators, like Friesen, see this as a court of law. He writes, “The introduction leads immediately into a summons of heavens and earth (1:2). The summons may be compared to a lawsuit in which witnesses are served with a subpoena to appear in court. The prophets sometimes depict the Lord in litigation with his people (Hillers: 124–42; cf. Deut 32; Isa 1:2–3; Mic 6:1–8; Jer 2:4–13). In Isaiah 1:2–3 and in Deuteronomy 32, for example, there are similar words and phrases (Rignell: 140–58). Both Isaiah and Deuteronomy call heaven and earth to witness (Isa 1:2; Deut 32:1). Both regard Israel as foolish and senseless (Isa 1:3; Deut 32:6). This suggests that Isaiah stands in solidarity with Moses, calling heavens and earth as witnesses to God’s raising up of a people and to this people’s failure to understand the One who sustained them (cf. Delitzsch, 1:55–59).”[1]

In Romans 3:10-12, Paul wants the indictment of Isaiah to hit home for his readers also. He quotes from the book of Isaiah and applies the truth of man’s sinfulness to all of us. Heaven and Earth would testify against you and me as well as against the children of Judah. Paul says, “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” Then in verse 23 he simply says it, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” There is no exception. This truth, and Paul’s pointing it out, make Isaiah a very important book for all of us in every generation. The salvation Isaiah will present to his readers, and that Paul elaborates on for you and me begins with the recognition that we need to be saved. We must agree with God’s appraisal of us. The Greek word for confession is “say the same thing” about our situation that God says. The Greek word for repentance is “to change the way we are thinking.” Confession and repentance might include admitting that we’ve done something wrong, but it is more of an acceptance of the truth that I am a sinner at the very core of my being. No power within me can save myself. I’m hopelessly drowning in an ocean of sin and I desperately need someone to save me. I am helpless and all is hopeless unless God acts. As we see in the book of Isaiah and throughout the New Testament, God sent his son, the Holy Life Guard, to jump into the ocean of our sin and pull us out. He doesn’t throw a life-saver, or a life jacket, or give us instructions on how to swim. He dives into the ocean of our sin and through His perfect life, and sacrifice of himself for our sins drags us hopeless and helpless beings from the torrent of our sin and places our feet on solid ground.

[1] Friesen, Ivan D. 2009. Isaiah. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press.