#DailyDevotion All Our Righteousness Is As Filthy Rags
Isaiah 64 6We’ve all become like an unclean person, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. All of us fade like a leaf, and our wrongs carry us away like the wind. 7There’s no one calling on Your name or rousing himself to take hold of You, since You have hidden Your face from us. You have handed us over to the tyranny of our wrongdoing. 8But now, LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay and You the Potter, and all of us are the work of Your hands. 9Don’t be too angry, LORD, and don’t remember wrong forever. Now please consider, we are all Your people.
Isaiah cries to the LORD and confesses his sin and the sin of the people to the LORD as he sees the coming destruction upon Israel at the hands of the Assyrians. We have all become like an unclean person and all our righteousness are like filthy rags. Not the most pleasant image. The were numerous things in the Torah that could make a person unclean. One would be a woman in her menstrual cycle. That would be the reference to “filthy rags.” Yes, I know, not the image you want in your mind. Yet if you looked at the deeds of the Israelites, you would see not much good among them. That is why the LORD is sending them into exile. Idol worship, sexual immorality, oppression of the poor, widow, orphan and stranger were the highlights of the LORD’s complaints against them. Looking at our own culture and day we may well wonder when the LORD is going to send the Assyrians to make short work of us. Should they or we have any good works, any righteousness we could point to in and of ourselves, perhaps it would be best to confess this with Isaiah who most certainly was a righteous man if there was one and leave up to Christ whether or not to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
The people of Israel were fading like a leaf. Indeed, all our sins make us less than ourselves, which is to be in the image and likeness to God. Their sins carried them away to parts of the Assyrian empire never to be seen or heard of again. Let us examine ourselves to enlighten any dark recesses of our hearts, minds and souls and expose them to the light of Christ that we may, through faith in Christ, we given the weight of eternal glory.
Isaiah’s complaint before the LORD confesses there is no one who calls upon the name of the LORD because the LORD had hidden himself from them. Indeed, when we turn our backs on the LORD and do what our sinful flesh wants to do, there is the danger the LORD will leave us to ourselves and punish us with letting us sin all the more. Isaiah says, “You have handed us over to the tyranny of our wrongdoing.” Addictions to sinful behavior are a manifestation of this handing over. We decide we know better than God and engage in sexual immorality, drunkenness, idolatry of wealth, you name it, some behavior outside the will of God and God lets us go and serve these false gods from whom we are wanting every good. We think they give us freedom and then they control every aspect of our lives.
In this passage is one of the few places the LORD is referred to as “Father.” He is turning to God not only as a master and lord, but as someone who would care for us. Fathers are to look after their children, protect them, teach them how to live, and love them. He is hoping our Father in heaven would discipline his people and bring them back. He’s hoping he would have mercy upon them. The image of the potter and clay he calls out so that the LORD would remember we are fragile people whom he has made. Our make up is weak. Isaiah appeals to the LORD not to remember our sins and wrongdoing but to recall that we are his people. With contrite hearts then let up appeal to our Father in heaven as Isaiah does our weakness and our sinfulness. Call him to remember he has called us to be his people through baptism into his Son Jesus Christ and ask him to give us greater faith that we may put off our sins and to live for him.
Merciful God and Father, we are sinful and unclean for we have not done what you have commanded us. For the sake of Jesus Christ forget our sins, cleanse us with your Holy Spirit and remember we are your people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.