The Israelites were in bad shape in Isaiah 1. They were full of sin and alienated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Isaiah used the very striking metaphor of a sick man to describe their deplorable condition. He said in vv. 5-6, “Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment”. Sin, the affliction of the heart, needs to be examined.
The malady of sin shows us that sin is loathsome in nature. God, who once beheld man with delight, now beholds man full of sin and “pollution”. Sin easily spread from Eve all the way to the day when God regretted creating man (Genesis 6:6). Human reason, in all forms, has failed to restore a sinner back to God (cp. Ephesians 2:1-10).
The influence of sin affects the head, which is the seat of intelligence and knowledge, and the heart, which is the fountainhead of affection and love. When the mind is corrupt, it’s impossible to restore the heart to health, for one cures the affliction by knowing goodness and truth (Philippians 4:8-9). Sin truly defiles us in so many ways.
The remedy of sin is Scripture, for it explains where sin comes from and defines it for us (Mark 7:21-23; Galatians 5:19-21). Examine yourself and your condition before God. There’s no way to do this without faithfully having a knowledge of sin and its effects. Without the knowledge of sin, we can’t come to a true repentance of sin and we’ll never seek our own salvation (Acts 2:38).
Even though Isaiah uses the stunning example of the sick man, he also describes God’s willingness to offer salvation. He wrote in vv. 18-20, “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken”. Isaiah 33:24 states that no inhabitant of the land of Israel will be sick no longer. This is the wonderful effect of the gospel!