Opening Prayer

Lord, please speak to me from your Word. Help me to grasp its practical implications for me as I seek to serve you.

Read ISAIAH 1:1–20

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

A Rebellious Nation

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
    For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”

Woe to the sinful nation,
    a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
    children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
    they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
    and turned their backs on him.

Why should you be beaten anymore?
    Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
    your whole heart afflicted.
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
    there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
    and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
    or soothed with olive oil.

Your country is desolate,
    your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
    right before you,
    laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
Daughter Zion is left
    like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
    like a city under siege.
Unless the Lord Almighty
    had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
    we would have been like Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
    you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
    what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
    of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
    in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
    who has asked this of you,
    this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Read full chapter


  1. Isaiah 1:17 Or justice. / Correct the oppressor

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘In you all can be found. Why should I look elsewhere or go elsewhere? You have the words of eternal life, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’1

Think Further

It’s not always clear why settled, loving homes sometimes produce rebellious children. In Philip Roth’s novel, American Pastoral,2 the daughter of a devoted and morally assiduous father is exposed as a terrorist. This mirrors the Lord’s experience. His covenant love, which nurtures his children, is ‘rebelled against’ (v. 2) and ‘spurned’ (v. 4), leaving him ‘forsaken’ (v. 4). Turning their backs on God, the people behave like strangers to their families, the images of disloyalty comparing unfavorably with farm animals who understand their dependence on their owners (v. 3). The New Testament warns us not to forsake our first love.3

The Holy One of Israel (v. 4) cannot simply ignore or indulge their ingratitude. It provokes a ‘woe’ on his own children and disciplinary action to alert them to the profound consequences of their folly. Sinful behavior has dire consequences for the health of a nation and its environment (v. 7). Judah is in ruins, as enemies, strangers, and foreign nations gain the ascendency. Judah, however, is still considered a daughter (v. 8). That cannot change.

But the people of Judah are never entirely abandoned. Their plight would be like that of the totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah unless the Lord had other plans (v. 9). They will avoid destruction, but not by the means they think. The remedy does not lie in trying to appease God with outward signs of devotion, which will multiply his anger or simply bore him (vv. 14, 15). What does God look for? Refraining from doing wrong and starting to care for the oppressed, the orphans and the widows, grasping what he is concerned for. Their repentance must be about loving their neighbors as they love themselves.


Can our worship sometimes distract us from what God really wants from us? Be alert to ritual that is divorced from genuine penitence and transformed attitudes.

Closing prayer

Holy Lord, I confess that my thoughts and actions do not always please you. Thank you for the forgiveness that is mine through Christ Jesus.

Last Updated on June 24, 2024 by kingstar

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