to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
August 20, 2019 – Tuesday
Isaiah 1:16-20 NIV
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.
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.
First of all a comment on Isaiah made by Bultema and quoted in David Guzik’s commentary on the first verse of the book of Isaiah in his Enduring Word
Isaiah “has the courage of a Daniel, the sensitivity of a Jeremiah, the pathos of a Hosea, and the raging anger of an Amos; and moreover he leaves all of them far behind the in the unique art of holy mockery. His courage is of such a nature that he never, not even for a moment, shows himself to be weak or timid.”
In this chapter, verse two through verse thirty-one are a prophecy from God and a description of how far the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem has fallen. No punches are pulled. The NIV gives these verses the title A Rebellious Nation while the NRSV gives the title The Wickedness of Judah through verse twenty and then a new title The Degenerate City. These may be compared side by side here.
In the verses preceding our verses for today God condemns the sacrifices as meaningless offerings and would not even listen to their prayers because they were in such a state of rebellion. Thus when we come to the verses above God provides an answer to the problems in Judah. First stop doing wrong! Then
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Clearly they were not doing right, nor seeking justice. Thus they did not defend the oppressed or help the fatherless and widows. This is a common theme in the Old Testament, judgment often came when those involved in great sin no longer cared for the fatherless and widows or the poor and needy. See
Ezekiel 16:48-50 when we learn this was the tipping point for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Next we come to let us settle the matter which in reality is God telling the people of Judah what He can do for them. He can remove the grime in their souls and make them clean again. But how is this done? What is required of the people of Judah so that they may eat the good things of the land instead of being devoured by the sword?
Very simple and straight forward, they must become willing and obedient. It is interesting the obedience must be from the willing, not some forced obedience with a hidden agenda. This implies a sincere seeking to be obedient to God’s will in their lives.
The same is true for us today. God wants us to come to Him willingly through His Son Jesus and in doing so seek to live our lives in obedience to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That means stop doing wrong and then Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Let us be about our business as Christians and do just that.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)