Read: Isaiah 1:4-9 (my notes from 1:1-3 here)
SINNING NATION. This has become Israel's new identity. A people that were called and chosen to be a blessing are now a people laden with sin. A people who were to be a blessing to the nations are now acting corruptly. Once identified as children of the Most High God are now labeled as "foreigners." These are described as children - offspring - of evildoers. Imagine thinking all is going well in your life and Isaiah throws this bad news in your face! God himself has spoken this hard word through Isaiah, and also to you and I, in order to produce a godly sorrow in them that leads to repentance. The intention here is bigger than any one sin. He goes after the rebellious heart and mind inside each of us.
HEAVY WITH INIQUITY. Isaiah sees things much worse than they do. He sees them missing the point entirely. Romans 1:21 seems to describe the situation well: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." They saw the light of the glory of God but instead chose darkness. They became foolish in their thinking, Isaiah pointing out earlier that even animals were smarter. At least they wouldn't bite the hand that feeds them..
FORSAKEN AND DESPISED. Alec Motyer translated this word despised as a spurning. Ray Ortlund says that is to "disrelish him, to put a discount on God while valuing other things." Later in Isaiah (42:8), we see God's thought: "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." God will not tolerate us exchanging His glory for anything else.
Kevin Deyoung says: Kabod is the Hebrew word for glory; it literally means “weight.” The glory of God is the weight of all that God is, the fullness of his understanding, virtue, and happiness, as Jonathan Edwards put it..We glorify God when we throw a spotlight on how great God is..God’s perfect love, power, wisdom, sovereignty, and grace make him glorious. Pointing others to the majesty of God and being satisfied with the worth and weight of this majesty make us God-glorifiers
GOD HATERS. That said, Israel reveals themselves to be God-haters in stealing glory from God. We do that too. When I prefer to make much of myself or act like a child of corruption instead of a child of God. Paul Tripp says we're all Glory Junkies: we’re addicted to pursuing, and basking in, our own glory. When we do that we have essentially spurned the Holy One.
SALVATION. As verse 9 points out, he will have a people that will, as Piper rightly puts it: glorify Him by being most satisfied in Him. He will have a people who relish him and value God above all things to such a degree that we can say with Paul: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
WHAT USE IS IT TO CONTINUE STUBBORN? Isiaiah here is wanting them to see things as they really are and have it lead to repentance. We are meant to glorify God. Each of us has a grand canyon size hole that only God can fill. But we are each like Israel here when we pursue lesser things, placing higher value on anything less than the glory of God.. that is like filling that huge hole inside us all with a teaspoon of dirt. What use is it to settle for anything less than the glory of God?? As CS Lewis said,
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
HOPELESS? By the end of verse 8, I'm left feeling the situation is rather hopeless. But actually it is much worse as Isaiah will soon point out. 1 Peter 2:9 is where God wants to take us: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you. He doesn't want us to be as a shack in the midst of a fallen vineyard or a body that is riddled with a cancerous disease from head to toe. He wants us to quit being stubborn in our ways and break under his lavish grace and goodness toward us.