PASS, FAIL, RESIT, RESULT
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.
‘All my hope on God is founded; / all my trust He shall renew; / He, my guide through changing order, / only good and only true’1
Today’s verses are a microcosm of the whole of the first 39 chapters of Isaiah. They basically say to Israel, ‘You were, you are, you could be!’: you were fairly OK, you are almost universally dreadful, you could be either those who belong to Zion ‘the City of Righteousness’ (26) or those who belong to the ‘rebels and sinners’ (28), who will be completely burned up. Most of Isaiah’s writing explains what is needed to put them in the first or second category. It is tempting for us, looking back, to concentrate solely on the vision of a wonderful future that God will provide for His people, but we wouldn’t be taking Scripture seriously if we ignore the larger context of the disastrous future that Israel, or at least most of them, are heading for.
Most teachers know how hard it is when speaking to a whole class to make sure the message gets to the right students. If you say, ‘Some of you will fail unless you work much harder’ it is likely that those who are lazy will say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t mean me, it is only “some”’ and those who are really overdoing it will start thinking they have to work even harder. If you say, ‘Some of you are working too hard, you will improve if you ease up and relax’ the reverse happens! Isaiah wants to make sure that those who are continuing to follow God wholeheartedly don’t lose sight of the great hope that does lie ahead, while also ensuring that the majority, who are not, realize the terrible seriousness of their situation. New Testament writers face the same problem of making sure that believers understand the extent of their freely given future security while also realizing that their current attitude and behavior are extremely significant!
Are you more inclined to doubt your security or to underestimate your responsibility in Christ? Set your hope on God’s grace and ‘be holy in all you do’.2
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.
1 Robert Bridges, 1844–1930 2 1 Pet 1:13–15