Scarlet and White
As you prepare to read the uncomfortable words of Isaiah, pray that today you might live as a child of God.
Read Isaiah 1:1-20
 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.  Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.  The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”  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.  Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted.  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.  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.  Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege.  Unless the LORD Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.  Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!  “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.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?  Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations- I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.  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.  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!  Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.  “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.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;  but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat warning and invitation does God issue here?
Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, was sick, but not because its people had forsaken religion. Ritual seems to have been flourishing (11-15), but their heart was not in it. Instead of a love of justice and kindness that is at the heart of true worship of God, their actions were evil and violent. This affected most the weakest in the land, the orphan and widow (17). The people clearly believed that outward show was all that was needed, and that their lifestyle need not reflect their worship. These people had a choice: to respond to their sins by repentance and transformation so that their crimson, blood-covered hands and hearts were washed until they were white as snow, or to stay in their rebellion and face destruction. Their moral failure was matched by the sin of presumption: the belief that God would protect them, however much they were disobedient to his ways. But God loved them too much to leave them in that vulnerable place, and his judgment was the means of redeeming and purifying them. As with us: “the Lord disciplines those he loves” (Heb. 12:6).
Is there a warning or invitation here from God to you? Ponder that question in silence for a moment.
Loving God, don’t leave me as I am. Instead, transform me by Your Spirit into the likeness of Jesus.
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