Read Is 1:1–28
Isa 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching 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…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; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. (18) “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…25 I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy… 27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
What damning things the Lord speaks to Israel. Yes the Lord is speaking to Israel here. He is calling her the wicked cities he had once destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah! Here our Lord compares their sacrifices that he had once commanded to those of the surrounding pagan countries. He is not pleased with them. Jesus would at the beginning of his ministry make a similar comparison: Mat 11:23-24 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (24) But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
The people of Israel and Judea were not pleasing to God because they ceased to have unfeigned faith in the Lord their God. As the author of Hebrews writes, Heb 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Instead they worshiped gods of their own understanding. They worshiped in a way that was pleasing to themselves. Because of this God would send the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans to conquer his people and hopefully through these trials bring them to repentance.
The repentance that the Lord is looking for is ceasing to continue to do evil and the commencement of doing good. But such repentance is only possible if there is a promise from God to receive it. It is only possible by trusting what the Lord promises. What does the Lord promise? He promises to turn our sins which are like scarlet and crimson into being white as snow and wool. The bloodshed which our sins bring about, the Lord our God will wipe out. How will he accomplish this? Jesus brings this about through justice and righteousness. Not that he brings justice upon us or having his righteousness wipe us out but instead Jesus receives justice upon his own flesh and by the righteousness of God, the Lord punishes our iniquity by placing it on Jesus. No sin is left unpunished. No unrighteousness is left unatoned for. You have been declared innocent and not guilty. You have been declared righteous for Christ’s sake. Repent therefore and believe the good news.
Heavenly Father, though you condemn our wickedness it is not your desire to annihilate us but to bring us to repentance and restore us to yourself. Grant us a repentance unto salvation through the merits and works of your son Jesus and make us, sinful as we are, white as snow and wool that we may enter that good land you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.