A Whole Load Ruined

Have you ever managed to do a white wash and got something of a different colour in it?  However small, that one thing manages to colour the rest of the load – everything with it is tainted by it.

Isaiah 1:10-18 (CEV)

Justice, Not Sacrifices

10 You are no better
    than the leaders and people
of Sodom and Gomorrah!
    So listen to the Lord God:
11 “Your sacrifices
    mean nothing to me.
I am sick of your offerings
    of rams and choice cattle;
I don’t like the blood
    of bulls or lambs or goats.

12 “Who asked you to bring all this
when you come to worship me?
    Stay out of my temple!
13 Your sacrifices are worthless,
    and incense is disgusting.
I can’t stand the evil you do
    on your New Moon Festivals
or on your Sabbaths
    and other times of worship.
14 I hate your New Moon Festivals
    and all others as well.
They are a heavy burden
    I am tired of carrying.

15 “No matter how much you pray,
I won’t listen.
    You are too violent.
16 Wash yourselves clean!
I am disgusted
    with your filthy deeds.
Stop doing wrong
17     and learn to live right.
See that justice is done.
Defend widows and orphans
    and help those in need.”

An Invitation from the Lord

18 I, the Lord, invite you
    to come and talk it over.
Your sins are scarlet red,
but they will be whiter
    than snow or wool.

The people thought that they had got things right.  They thought they were doing all the right things, making the right sacrifices in the right way – and they believed that meant they were doing what God asked of them.

What they totally overlooked was the way they behaved the rest of their lives away from the temple.  Their behaviour elsewhere is condemned as nothing short of evil – so whatever they did in the Temple was meaningless, it was not their true selves.  It doesn’t matter how awesome and holy the sacrifice looks, if the rest of life is not right.  Their behaviour in bringing sacrifices did not effect the rest of their lives; rather their everyday behaviour tainted their apparently pious offerings to God, making them unworthy and unacceptable.  If only they cared as much about justice as they did about looking good!

The powerful bit comes in verse 18.  Wow! an invitation from God – Having got things so wrong is not the end of the story.  God invites the people to come and talk it over.  Nothing is too bad, beyond redemption or too far gone.  God invites us to come to him, and what seems scarlet, can become whiter than ever.

To return to the laundry, I don’t know how successful it is, but you can buy a product that “turns back the clock on most colour run disasters”.  That is what God offers to each one of us for our lives.

However bad the stain, it can be sorted out.  Whatever we have done, God invites us to come and let him remove the stains.  We need not despair.

I don’t know about you, but I need that in my life.  As I think back over things I have ruined, people I have hurt, things that have gone wrong by my interference…

By God’s invitation there can be a clean start.

Wash Me Lord

Oh Lord,
there is so much I have got wrong,
so many ways I have lived my life
so differently to how I might present it,
my offerings have been meaningless,
or a cover for how I really am.

Wash me Lord
I pray.
Where my everyday actions
have tainted the whole of my life,
wash me clean,
restore the whiteness in me.
I come at your invitation,
and accept your cleansing.

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