In the opening of Isaiah, God says something that, to me, is astounding. He calls the readers to do something that sounds, well, unreasonable. He says, “Come now, let us reason together.” Crazy, right? No, think about it: The sovereign Lord of all that is, who created by the power of His Word, who controls all that ever was, who speaks and no one can respond, who, with the power of a thought can build up or destroy, whose ways are higher and thoughts deeper than anything that could compare, calls us to reason with Him.
Here’s the backstory: The Father has just laid out a grievance against Judah, that they have come to Him with acts of worship, but filthy hands and hearts. Rhetorically, He has asked them where they got such an idea. Do you think I like this? Has anyone told you to do this and act this way towards me? Do you think I’m stupid? Did I say that I like for you to make a mockery of worship? (Yeah, a little bit of paraphrasing there). He then tells them what He wants them to do (which we’ll get to in a minute) then calls for them to be reasonable in their response. Look at how He lays this out (so easily a baby could just about reason through this):
1. Your sins are disgusting —-> they’ll be cleansed like snow.
2. If you’re willing and obedient —-> I’ll bless your socks off.
3. If you refuse and rebel —-> you’ll lose your socks. (look how strongly the Lord states this: “you shall be eaten by the sword.” Gives the idea of complete consumption/destruction, no?).
4. I said it. That’s it. No other options. (“…the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”)
Simple, right? So, the reasonable response is……? Of course, any reasonable person would do what God says. OK, so…..do we? Do you?
What God Said
Isaiah 1: 6-7 tells us what we’re to do that, in doing so, will lead to the blessings of God:
1. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil.
2. Learn to do good. (personal experience – it is a process.)
3. Seek justice.
4. Correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
So this is what God said. Now, what did He mean?
In summary, He tells us to separate ourselves from sin (repent) and do works in keeping with repentance. These were the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:8.
How does it work? Simple. In our context (A.D.), it is coming to terms with the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, who, having made peace with the Father on our behalf (that is, since He was pure and had no need to have His own sins purified, He could, in perfection, stand in and trade His purity for our impurity by dying the death we deserved, bearing the penalty of sin for us, absorbing the wrath of God towards sin so we don’t have to eternally and then rising from the dead so that Death is defeated forever), and repenting. That’s the “Gospel” or Good News in a nutshell. In my opinion, when you think of what’s at stake and what is gained, “good news” is an understatement!
The repenting part is the application of Christ’s pardon on our lives. If I don’t repent, I don’t get the benefit. It’s like getting a coupon for a free meal at a restaurant: Somebody is paying for that meal, though I get it for free. However, I actually need to redeem the coupon in order to receive the meal. Repentance (that involves not only being sorrowful over sin, but actually turning away from that sin and believing what Christ has done) is that act of faith where I believe “the meal” has been paid for and is mine for the enjoying.
Now the rest is the outflow of what has flowed in. Christ has given me salvation, called me to Himself, broken me over my sin, applied the ointment of healing through forgiveness as I repent, and sealed my soul for eternity with Him. Now, if that is real, I see the world differently:
- I see injustice and I want to fix it.
- I see people hurting and I want to help them.
- I see people broken and I want to heal them.
- I see people lonely and I want to comfort them.
- I see people treated badly and I want to defend them.
Though I may have been blinded to these things before, being absorbed by my selfishness, empty religion, or short-sightedness, now Christ has given my His own eyes. I begin to see the world as He sees it and want to doing something about it. This is a natural process brought about by the indwelling Spirit of God (note: many people do these things who are not followers of Christ…keep reading).
So, a couple of questions:
1. What is your attitude towards sin?
2. What is your relation to Jesus?
3. What is the condition of your soul?
4. How do you see the world?
5. What are you doing about it?
Doing “justice” for the sake of justice may be noble (and many people are doing just that), but if not prompted as a natural result of what Christ has done in your life, it is ultimately meaningless. You can make a hungry person full for a while but they’ll hunger again. Empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, however, will change the world (and you) both now and for eternity.
If you’d like to explore this Good News further, shoot me a message.