LEADERS WE DESERVE
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; be the unity embracing me today and all days.
Read Isaiah 1:21–31
21 See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.
24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;[a]
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.
26 I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City.”
27 Zion will be delivered with justice,
her penitent ones with righteousness.
28 But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
and those who forsake the Lord will perish.
29 “You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks
in which you have delighted;
you will be disgraced because of the gardens
that you have chosen.
30 You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
like a garden without water.
31 The mighty man will become tinder
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
with no one to quench the fire.”
- Isaiah 1:25 That is, against Jerusalem
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink of five qualities you would hope to see in a leader of your community.
A feature of this passage is the way it shifts back and forth between references to the city leaders and to the society as a whole. It is as if the two are intertwined. The leaders came out of the community. The whole group is, in one sense, to be held responsible for the corruption of those in charge (23). Perhaps we should consider this reality when we grumble about our politicians!
However, at the same time, it does seem that the powerful amongst wrongdoers are to be singled out as especially guilty. This is a theme of Scripture as a whole (Proverbs 16:10; James 3:1). A connected biblical truth is that God has a special heart for the poor and needy – and expects leaders to prioritize their care (17,23).
The imagery in this chapter is both rich and frightening. God’s wrath is directed at the essentially moral failings in His city rather than particular policies or details. The Lord’s goal is spelled out in verse 27, and this is as true of our own cities today as it is for ancient Zion. Justice and righteousness are not affected by cultural or political movements. And God’s fire is eternal, whether it is to consume us at a terrible end, or to purge and refine us for a new beginning.
Why not claim verse 26 for your own nation today? Read the verse again and ponder it in prayer for your own context.
Lord, I know it is much easier to drift away from You than to wholeheartedly follow You. Today I once again set the course of my life toward You and Your kingdom.
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