Thursday after the Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Isaiah 1:1-28 (NKJV)
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; 3 The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.”
4 Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward. 5 Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Unless the LORD of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah:
11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12 When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 “Come now, and 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 be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. 21 How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; Righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers. 22 Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. 23 Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them. 24 Therefore the Lord says, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, and take vengeance on My enemies. 25 I will turn My hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your alloy. 26 I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” 27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her penitents with righteousness. 28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
The Lord makes clear His will for His people. He teaches us to repent of our sins, and hold fast to His Words. Unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians insist on making things more difficult, less clear, and ultimately more sinful than they need to be. One does not always need to look to the world to see wickedness. It is just as easy to see in the sins of those who are supposed to be God’s children.
Like Israel in Isaiah’s time, church bodies are plagued with the wounds and putrefying sores of unfaithfulness. They ignore parts of God’s Word, yet insist that they have done nothing wrong and refuse to repent of their manifest corruption. And often their folly is so crass that one does not have to be an experienced theologian to see that they are making such compromises for self-serving reasons.
The prophet Isaiah sets forth for us the Lord’s clear, basic principles for being among His faithful children: repent of your wickedness, and cling to His Word. Our Lord Jesus preached the same thing during His public ministry, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). So the faithful do not hide behind convoluted justifications, or appeal to their so-called great acts of faithfulness in order to avoid repenting of their manifest sins. They do not act as obstinate children who lash out or offer shallow token apologies. We do as our Father has taught us; we repent and return to His Word. It is only in that Word that we have true righteousness, not because we keep it, but because that is where we are kept alive in Christ Jesus, our Redeemer and Savior.
We pray: Lord God, forgive us our trespasses, and renew us always in the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified. Amen.