In many ways, chapter 1 serves as a summary of the book. Isaiah paints a vivid picture of the wickedness that he sees. Then he proclaims how the Lord feels about it. Then a call to repentance. Then a promise of judgment should you not repent. Finally, there’s a blessing for repentance and curses for rebellion. And all of this is described in lively, picturesque language.
If I had to summarize the book of Isaiah in a verse or two, I would choose 1:16-17: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice,correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
The catch, of course, is that all these things can only be done by God’s Spirit working in us–more on that another day.
In these first 20 chapters, we also read some of Isaiah’s biographical information, including his call to become a prophet. It is my opinion that anyone who is called to the ministry should respond in a similar fashion. (See Isaiah 6 and William Perkin’s The Art of Prophesying.)
We also read of good songs (ch. 12), judgments on the nations (ch. 13-20), and a prophecy or five about Christ (ch. 4,7,9,11,12). He’s the Branch, Immanuel, born of a virgin, a Great Light, the Child, the Son, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, from the throne of David, possessing the 7 Spirits of God, the root of Jesse, the living water of salvation. If those names don’t fill you up, I don’t know what will.