January 3, 2011
God loves His children enough to speak the truth to them in love. While His love at times has sobering clarity in its voice, it is a love that always has saving grace as its goal.
"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the LORD has spoken:
“Children 1 have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master's crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the LORD,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.
Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
If the LORD of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.
Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching 2 of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the LORD;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
13 Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause.
Come now, let us reason
together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
How the faithful city
has become a whore, 4
she who was full of justice!
Righteousness lodged in her,
but now murderers.
22 Your silver has become dross,
your best wine mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
and the widow's cause does not come to them.
Therefore the Lord declares,
the LORD of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
and avenge myself on my foes.
25 I will turn my hand against you
and will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
26 And 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.”
Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
28 But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29 For they 5 shall be ashamed of the oaks
that you desired;
and you shall blush for the gardens
that you have chosen.
30 For you shall be like an oak
whose leaf withers,
and like a garden without water.
31 And the strong shall become tinder,
and his work a spark,
and both of them shall burn together,
with none to quench them.
If you were blessed to receive a new Bible for Christmas, you get to break in a section of God's Word that many others who have had a Bible for a long time need to break in as well. Welcome to the "sticky pages" of the Prophets.
"Prophets"—the mere mention of them makes us think of rebuke and judgment. Not exactly the things we desire to meditate on when we sit down to get some refreshment.
Philippians and its reflections on joy . . . maybe. Proverbs and its simple wisdom . . . definitely. The Psalms and their comfort . . . absolutely. But rebuke? I think not! Pass me more pumpkin pie and keep the Brussels sprouts to yourself.
Alas, such is the thinking of an unhealthy fat man. There are many places in God's Word that address folks who don't appreciate others who help them with their "diet," but Proverbs 12:1 says it best: "Whoever loves discipline (Brussels sprouts) loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof (cauliflower) is stupid."
I did a word study on stupid just to make sure we could get the most out of this moment together, and in short, the word means STUPID. We get the English word from the Latin stupidus (I'm not kidding), which means "to be numb." That's right, stupid = numbskull. Was there ever a better definition for sinners?
Sinners: people numb to the goodness of God. Sinners: people like you and me who keep looking for life apart from God. Sinners: people who need Prophets. Need truth tellers. Need sticky pages to not be sticky.
Believe it or not, you don't find only distasteful reminders here. You are going to find grace on grace. God is asking you not only to come to your senses, but to come to Him and find life again. Not only can we get "de-numbed" here, we can get REBORN here. His unreasonable patience is waiting for your reasonable response.
There is nothing quite as unreasonable as God's way of reasoning . . . but then again, we're stupid. So I say we light a fire, sit down, crack open the Prophets, and come to our senses.
1. Have you read Isaiah 1 yet? This year, make it a habit to read the Scripture before you read The Journey "scribes." Dig on your own first, then mine the work of others.
2. Pick up the phone right now (or send an email of encouragement) to the few true friends you have who play the Prophet in your life. Read Proverbs 27:5-6 to them and thank them for being a faithful friend.
3. If you don't have biblical community in your life, email email@example.com right now and ask our community team to help you get connected TODAY!
4. Read Isaiah 1:17 and purpose to do something today that would satisfy the encouragement of these words. If you need help, go to www.watermarkworldwide.com and sign up to help one of our kids today.
5. Choose one thing you need to "wash your hands of" (verse 16) today and call your Prophet friends to pray for you.
This year, The Journey adds a Weekly Family Activity written by Watermark's Children Ministry to encourage parents to read God's Word with their children and to facilitate family discussions about the daily Journey passages. Each week will bring a new family activity.
WEEKLY FAMILY ACTIVITY
ISAIAH 1-5 (JAN 3-7)
Activity Part 1: Take a small, washable object and cover it with mud. As you cover it, take turns talking about behavior that is disobedient/rebellious towards God.
Read Isaiah 1:1-6 & 16-20.
Verses 4 and 5 tell us that the Israelites are rebellious, hardhearted, and far from God.
What was Isaiah encouraging them to do because of the condition of their hearts (verses 16-17)? Give examples of when you have rebelled/disobeyed authority in your life (God, parents, teachers, bosses, or coaches). What do you think makes you want to rebel/disobey? Also give examples of times of obedience and what made you want to obey.
How do you get to know God in a way that your heart consistently wants to honor and obey Him, rather than rebel and disobey? Think about the need daily to take a bath/shower. How do we do that with our hearts?
Activity Part 2: Now go back to your object. Talk about what needs to be done to remove the dirt from the object. Have fun getting the object clean and repeating together what Isaiah says in verses 16 and 17.
Talk together about how each of you can keep your hearts clean daily.