Immanuel, God with us, I rejoice in You today and look forward to reading Your Word and learning new truth about You.
Read Isaiah 1:1–20
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
A Rebellious Nation
2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
4 Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.
5 Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
your whole heart afflicted.
6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with olive oil.
7 Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
8 Daughter Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
like a city under siege.
9 Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
- Isaiah 1:17 Or justice. / Correct the oppressor
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.
ReflectWhat is the nearest you have ever been to having a ‘vision,’ however you understand the term?
We should not try to read the Old Testament, wearing a ‘modern hat.’ Isaiah does not tell us he is beginning a book. Nothing of the sort existed in the eighth century BC. Of course, his words were written down, but first they would probably have been proclaimed orally, in short sections. Imagine Isaiah accosting corrupted VIPs, all of whom would prefer not to hear. Nor should we suppose that this message is mostly about the future (from the point of view of Isaiah’s listeners), or only about the past, from where we are sitting. Isaiah announces a vision in verse 1 and, in case we are in doubt, then confirms that ‘the Lord has spoken.’ So, these verses shift from fascinating history or prediction into truth of eternal consequence.
For us, this has implications. Verses 2 to 17 give us plenty to ponder about our own nation as well as our personal lives. Peeling away the ancient imagery, what parallels can you find with modern times, from our load of guilt (4) to our useless attempts to resolve the mess we are in? But then, after all the classic Old Testament wrath and condemnation, comes a shock no one could expect: the God who loves us invites us to ‘reason together’ with Him (18, ESV).
Read verse 17 again. How can you reasonably apply this verse to your own life?
Merciful Father, I take ownership of my sins and release them to Your forgiving grace. I long to know You in more than just empty rituals.
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