I need to share some sweetness with you today.
first chapter of the book of Isaiah.
Right now. It won’t even take a full 5 minutes.
So interesting, right?
A bit of background for you:
The book of Isaiah is a collection of the prophecies of a man named Isaiah, and the book records his visions over the span of many years. It is more of an “anthology” book than one with a linear story line.
In this first chapter, Isaiah captures prophesy that did indeed come true for the people of the country of Israel.
What were you like as a teenager? Did you obey your parents? Did you realize all they had done for you and, in turn, believe that they had your best interests in mind? Or did you do the stark opposite?
These people of Israel were like seriously troubled, angsty teenagers who ignored their parents’ wishes. God says to them:
Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged. (verse 4)
You see, the reason the Lord was so utterly ticked off was because of the special relationship God had with the people of Israel. They were His chosen ones, the people who had been led to Canaan (a super-amazing land of plenty) and had been led there by Abraham to live an abundant life in this new haven.
However, they epically failed.
The people whom God wanted to bring Him glory turned into a people of evil. Corruption, thievery, and rebellion became the norm. God’s people performed “religious rituals”, but they became meaningless:
13 Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them. (verses 13-14)
Have you ever heard that song by Matthew West, “The Motions”? The chorus goes like this:
“I don’t wanna go through the motions/I don’t wanna go one more day/
Without your all-consuming passion inside of me…..”
I think the people of Israel could have benefitted from listening to that song. Despite “going through the motions” of giving burnt offerings, lighting incense, and holding feast days, the people of Israel were empty. Their actions were void of any true desire or honor for God, and their daily actions further demonstrated their loss of regard for their Heavenly Father.
The close, intimate, loving relationship these people had with their Creator had been torn apart.
We are the people of Israel. We are the broken, shattered ones who have forgotten Him.
After all, we are sinful by nature. And only God can heal that sinfulness.
Perhaps we need to take a lesson from the Israelites and look at our relationship status.
And no, I’m not talking about Facebook.
For me, I think the most powerful part of Isaiah 1 is the demonstration of the character of God. Yes, God’s wrath is powerful, and He is a God of justice. Yet at the same time, Isaiah shows us that He is just as much a God of love:
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool. (verse 18)
This is the verse that stands out to me the most in this first chapter.
How amazing is our God? Despite our ugly, disgusting, pitiful behavior, God is still willing to take our sins and erase them - to take our red stings and make them pure white. White as snow.
Jesus took that sting on the cross. In our place. And we can restore our broken relationships with our Almighty.
All it takes is giving your life to the God that is equal parts justice and love.
Forgive me for my foolishness. All too often I forget your love, and I live solely for my own pleasure. I forget to exalt you as my Savior. I fail to remember that you are the one, true Love of my life. Help me to remember today and every day that you have my best intentions in mind, and to serve you with a passion that not even the Devil can quench. A passion that will show others the way to You. I love you, and I seek to act more like you each day.
In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.