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.
The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand."
What The Lord has to say through His prophet Isaiah is a harsh and direct indictment of the nation of Israel and the rejection they have done of Him. It comes fiercely with strong words right from the very beginning. God calls the universe to witness as He speaks the charges against His people.
God speaks as a judge. He summons the heavens and the earth to this hearing. God reads the charges against Israel. He convenes the tribunal and strongly states their offenses. He holds nothing back. He wants Israel to know clearly that He knows what they are doing.
God speaks as a Father. The relationship God has with Israel is parental and His children have come to age and chosen to turn against the Law and their Father's love. They have rebelled and are rejecting the relationship. God is broken over this and it is reason for His discipline to break forth.
Finally, God speaks like the people themselves, using a common agricultural metaphor to describe their condition. His point?... they are dumber than livestock. Even an ox responds and knows the farmer and a donkey knows to come home and eat in its own stall. But Israel won't come back to the farm. They are dumber than common beasts of burden.
This indictment will set the tone for the largest of the major prophets. In Isaiah, God's rulership, His authority, His right to judge, His tender Father's heart, and His rights to Israel as "landowner" all come through. Israel was called to love and worship a loving, sovereign Lord.