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Isaiah ben Amoz: Political Prophet (Isaiah: ) | My Jewish Learning
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Even in the midst of judgment, God showed His mercy to Judah. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts? 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. 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. You rulers of Sodom… you people of Gomorrah : God was obviously trying to get the attention of the leaders and people of Judah.
He did this by associating them with two cities synonymous with sin and judgment. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me : Even in the midst of their rebellion, Judah continued its religious ceremony and ritual. They continued the sacrifices , they continued the burnt offerings , they continued offering the fat of fed cattle , they continued burning incense , they continued their assemblies and their sacred meetings — and God was sick of them all! See how the LORD describes His reaction to these religious rituals: I have had enough… bring no more futile sacrifices… an abomination to Me… I cannot endure… My soul hates… they are a trouble to Me… I am weary of bearing them.
This is a sobering thought. We can offer God all kinds of religious rituals and ceremonies, all kinds of religious service, and He may hate it and consider it an abomination! Without the right heart, God hated their religious ceremony and service. When you spread out your hands : This was the posture of prayer in that ancient culture. Instead of praying with heads bowed and hands folded, they would pray with the face turned towards heaven and the hands spread out to heaven. We may be certain, that in the midst of all this religious ceremony, there were many fine prayers offered.
Many eloquent, stirring, and emotional prayers were said. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. It is smart. It is the best way to live. It is madness it is reject and resist a God of infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite grace, and infinite power. True reason will drive any honest man to the humblest adoration and submission towards God. The angels surrounding the throne of God are covered with eyes, which speaks of their great ability to perceive and know Revelation These are perhaps the most intelligent, rational beings God ever created, and they spend every moment of their existence lost in total praise, total adoration, and total surrender to God.
This is where the highest reason will drive us. It is just plain reasonable to follow God. What a waste that was!
Quite the contrary, we find that Christians on their deathbed are trusting and loving God more than ever. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool : The LORD offered a repentant, humbled Judah true and complete cleansing from sin. Their condition of sin can be transformed from deeply stained to completely white.
In this passage, Isaiah says nothing about how this cleansing comes. But we know that it comes because Jesus took upon Himself our stain of sin, and God judged sin perfectly and completely in Jesus, so we can be accounted white as snow and as white as wool. We really can be clean from the stain of sin. Only the work of Jesus can make us white as snow! We really can have a break with the past, and a new beginning in Jesus Christ. The power of sin, the shame of sin, the guilt of sin, the domination of sin, and terror of sin, and the pain of sin can all be taken away in Jesus.
You need not try to diminish the extent of your sin, or seek to make it appear to be less than it really is. No; whatever you say it is, it is all that, and probably far more. Your deepest sense of your sinfulness does not come up to the truth concerning your real condition; certainly, you do not exaggerate in the least. Your sins are scarlet, and crimson; it seems as though you have put on the imperial robe of sin, and made yourself a monarch of the realm of evil.
You have kept a place where the entertainment was so low, so grovelling, that you awoke the slumbering passions of evil in the minds of either young or old, and so you shall sink to hell with the blood of others on your head, as well as your own damnation, not with one millstone about your neck, but with many.
God wants the separation between you and He to be gone now. He wants the best for us now! Come now; you may never have another warning; the heart may never be so tender as it is to-day. Come now ; no other eyes may ever weep over you; no other heart may ever agonize for your salvation. Come now, now, now, for tomorrow you may never know in this world.
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Death may have sealed your fate, and the once filthy may remain filthy still. Come now ; for to-morrow thy heart may become harder than stone, and God may give thee up. Why delay to be happy?
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Would you put off your wedding-day? Will you postpone the hour when you are pardoned and delivered? Come now : the bowels of Jehovah yearn for you. The eye of your father sees you afar off, and he runs to meet you. Come now ; the church is praying for you; these are revival times; ministers are more in earnest. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword : Here God offered Judah a choice. They could find hope in the midst of their chastisement, relief from empty religious ritual, and cleansing from their sin.
But they had to surrender their heart before God, and not refuse and rebel. Instead, they had to be willing and obedient. No one perfectly matches either phrase, but which phrase better describes your life? Is it willing and obedient or refuse and rebel? There is a consequence for either course: eat of the good of the land or be devoured by the sword.
How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; Righteousness lodged in it, But now murderers. Your silver has become dross, Your wine mixed with water. 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.
The faithful city has become a harlot : The faithful city is Jerusalem, the city once known for its faithfulness to the LORD. It was full of justice : The days of justice and righteousness are long past in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was filled with murderers , political corruption Your princes are rebellious , thieves , fraud Your silver has become dross, your wine is mixed with water , bribes , and favoritism against the weak They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them. God expects them to keep the peace against murderers , have integrity instead of being rebellious and the companion of thieves , and to defend the weak the fatherless and widows.
The spiritual adultery of Judah showed itself in this kind of sin. In a sense, the corruption among the leaders of Judah was a symptom of an even deeper spiritual problem.
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I will turn My hand against you, And thoroughly purge away your dross, And take away all your alloy. 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.