Monday, April 26, 2010

Red and White, Sin and Snow...

"After all we've done for you, this is the thanks we get?"

That question has been the cry of many bewildered parents as they've watched their children make devastatingly harmful choices. As a mother, my heart grieves for friends and loved ones who deal with rebellious adolescent and adult children, and I'm reminded as I read the first four chapters of Isaiah that God knows exactly what that pain feels like.

In Isaiah's time, the nation of Israel was in crisis. Assyria was poised to engulf them, and Judah faced threats from surrounding nations. It was during those perilous days that Isaiah spoke to Israel and Judah, warning them of what was in store if they did not recognize the error of their ways and return to God.

Through Isaiah, God expressed His contempt for their meaningless expressions of ritualistic religiosity because He recognized the vast contrast between the actions of his people and the actual condition of their hearts. Maybe He was thinking, "After all I've done for you...".

I cannot improve on Isaiah's words and they need no explanation. My prayer is that God will never turn His ears from me or those I love because of empty religion or rebellion, and that we will heed His challenge to care for widows, orphans and the oppressed because just as in the day of this bold prophet, there is a hurting world out there that needs to know our living, forgiving God.

Isaiah 1:

11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
says the Lord.
“I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fattened cattle.
I get no pleasure from the blood
of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to worship me,
who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
and your special days for fasting—
they are all sinful and false.
I want no more of your pious meetings.
14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.
Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,
for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
17 Learn to do good.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.
18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.

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