Readings: Isaiah chapters 1-5
We move on from the fate of Samaria, the northern kingdom, to the kingdom in the south. Isaiah now speaks to the city of Jerusalem, Judah. We travel through long and winding trails today, through five chapters of Isaiah, each with condemnation from God to the nation of Judah. It’s difficult to read. The words offer very little hope and lots of despair. Remember the people of the southern kingdom are left behind, not taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Their king Ahaz had made a deal with the devil., the Assyrian government. But their fate would come years later. One-day they would feel God’s wrath. It just wasn’t there time yet. God warns them in these passages of their fruitless worship, their continued idol worship.
Today I want to focus instead of what God wants of them and of us. These words of truth are tucked throughout the passages of condemnation. He spoke this through Isaiah. (Isaiah 1:16-17 , Isaiah 5:7b)
Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
Learn to do good.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.
I want you to only obey me, and you will have plenty to eat.
I expected you to seek justice, but instead I only see oppression.
I expected to find righteousness, but instead I hear only cries of violence.
That’s it. Among all of the words of despair and hopelessness, this is the recipe. God’s only recipe. And Jesus reminds us of this later in his sermon on the mount. Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. ……..Anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven . ” (Matthew 5: 17, 19b)
Spend some time in meditation today on the words above as you listen to this lovely song “Adonai” by Chris Renzema about God’s mercy. “I promise you I will not waste Your time. Thinking of ways to clear my name. oh, Adonai, have mercy on me.” “But if you’re still listening to me. There’s only one thing that I need now. Oh, Adonai, have mercy on me. ”