Tag Archives: Isaiah 1:10-18

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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Monday to Saturday living

There seems to be a constant competition amongst laundry product manufacturers to produce the ‘best ever’, ‘whitest whites’, ‘cleanest and freshest’.  They all want  us to believe that their product can make our clothes as clean and fresh as possible.

True cleanness and deepest white is what God wants for our lives.

The theme of this reading follows right on from last weeks challenge by Jesus, as to how lives are lived.  Not what we want everyone to think, but the reality.

 

Isaiah challenges the people of Jerusalem about their behaviour.  Not on the Sabbath, but the rest of the week.  Like the Pharisee in last weeks reading they come into the Temple, they bring all the “right” sacrifices, they’re doing what they think is the right thing – but they are not.  They may be doing the apparently right thing, but for all the wrong reasons – which makes it the wrong thing to do.  It’s not just what we do, but why we do it that really matters in life and faith.

 

Jeremiah points out to them that it is no good bringing all the right sacrifices to the Temple, if the minute you leave you are doing the wrong things.  They were bringing offerings to God, and then going away doing evil, being violent, watching injustice.  However good an offering is, it is no good if it’s not backed up by actions.  It’s not what we do in the Temple that matters, but what we do outside for the rest of the week.

It can be so easy to come to church, stand up in all the right places, sing the hymns, put something in the collection when it passes, but do we let it effect the rest of our lives?  Do we let God speak to us and change us, and take that away with us and live by it.

God’s challenge, stop the evil, see justice done, help the oppressed – that is the offering he really wants to see.

And what a wonderful invitation from God.  You are stained, but I will wash you as white as snow.  We do get things wrong, but God can put them right.  He makes us white as snow, better than the best washing product, with the finest optical brighteners, God offers to wash us whiter.

His invitation to “come and talk it over”.

How amazing is that.  God who knows us best of all; who knows the reality of our lives, not the public face we present; who knows the true depths of our stains invites us to talk to him, to let him clean us and free us – that we might go and free others from violence, oppression injustice and shame.

So, come to God.  Receive what he offers.  Welcome his invitation.  Accept his forgiveness. And live in his ways.

Everyday!