Day 347: December 13, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Isaiah 1:1-18
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 

2 Listen, heavens, and pay attention, earth, for the Lord has spoken: “I have raised children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against Me. 3 The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s feeding trough, but Israel does not know; My people do not understand.”4 Oh sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, brood of evildoers, depraved children! They have abandoned the Lord ; they have despised the Holy One of Israel; they have turned their backs on Him. 5 Why do you want more beatings? Why do you keep on rebelling? The whole head is hurt, and the whole heart is sick. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, no spot is uninjured — wounds, welts, and festering sores not cleansed, bandaged, or soothed with oil. 7 Your land is desolate, your cities burned with fire; foreigners devour your fields before your very eyes— a desolation demolished by foreigners. 8 Daughter Zion is abandoned like a shelter in a vineyard, like a shack in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. 9 If the Lord of Hosts had not left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, we would resemble Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the Lord , you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “What are all your sacrifices to Me?” asks the Lord . “I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. 12 When you come to appear before Me, who requires this from you— this trampling of My courts? 13 Stop bringing useless offerings. Your incense is detestable to Me. New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies — I cannot stand iniquity with a festival. 14 I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals. They have become a burden to Me; I am tired of putting up with them. 15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. 

16 “Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from My sight. Stop doing evil. 17 Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come, let us discuss this,” says the Lord . “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.”

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

Though your sins are like scarlet,they will be as white as snow;though they are as red as crimson,they will be like wool. —Isaiah 1:18b

Dead or Living Stones
by Eric Newton,

The children of Israel were God’s chosen people. God chose them to be a royal priesthood, a holy, set apart nation to show other nations the way to the true God of the universe. God had good things in store for Israel, but they continually rebelled and disobeyed Him.

Isaiah starts off his “visions” about Israel (Judah and Jerusalem) telling how far the children of Israel have fallen, how sinful they have become.

As you read these verses in Isaiah 1:1-18, notice how Isaiah points out that the Israelites sins are destructive to them and how they get progressively worse.

  • They no longer recognize God’s care for them (verse 3).
  • They are loaded down with guilt (verse 4).
  • They despise the Holy One (verse 5).
  • They invite punishment (verse 5).
  • They are battered from head to foot (verse 6).
  • It is impacting the entire country negatively (verse 7).
  • Jerusalem is destroyed (verse 8).
  • The Israelites would have been wiped out if God had not spared a few (verse 9).

Nothing has changed over the years. People still don’t recognize that God loves them and wants the best for them. Instead, they rebel and seek their own way. This eventually leads to destruction if they don’t repent and turn from their sin.

It looked like the Israelites were doing the right things—they were offering sacrifices and going through their religious activities. But that’s never been what God desired. From the beginning He’s wanted a relationship with His people, not religious activities.

Isaiah tries to get the Israelites back on the right activities. It starts with repentance (verse 16), then it leads to true spiritual sacrifice. Learning to do good, seeking justice, helping the oppressed and those that can’t take care of themselves.

God always wants the best for us. Never forget that. He wants to get us back on the right track. He wants to forgive us and cleanse us of all of our sins, to make us white as snow (verse 18).

Just as God called the people of Israel to be a unique nation with a special purpose among the pagan kingdoms, the church has also been called to be a unique witness of Jesus Christ in the midst of a wicked world.

Our heads might swell at the notion that we're chosen by God, unless we realize that this wasn't an election for which we campaigned. It wasn't something we earned or deserved.

Just as the Hebrew people weren’t chosen based on any merit of their own (Deuteronomy 7:7), so Christians haven’t been chosen because of their superior intellect, beauty, influence, or morality.

We’re chosen by grace.

Reflection Questions

  1. How are you drawing near to Him?
  2. Are you letting sin ruin your life?
  3. Do you recognize that God only wants the best for you, not fake religious activities? Turn to Him today and become the living stone He has called you to be. Don’t make the same mistakes Israel made.

About the Author

Eric Newton