(Read Isaiah 1:12–20)
“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. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18–20 ESV)
Isaiah is speaking as a prophet to Judah and the nation of Israel. According to the first chapter at least, the people of God had lost their heart for God but continued doing the rituals prescribed by him. He had established sacrifices, feasts, and special assemblies that all had purpose and intention. But the people carried their cherished iniquity into the assembly, and made offerings that were vain instead of submissive and humble of heart. God hates these kinds of sacrifices and offerings. He desires for our hearts to be engaged, not for us to just go through the motions.
God’s dealing with his people (including us today) is a two edged sword. He hates when our hearts are not engaged with him in the things that we do. He tells us that if we will not repent of our iniquity, we shall be “eaten by the sword.” But if we come to him through Christ in repentance and faith, if we come and reason with him based upon the sacrifice of Christ, he will wash us and make us “whiter than snow.” With the one edge of the sword he destroys and kills, and with the other he protects and covers; thus God wields his two edged sword.
Questions for the kids:
- Read verse 15 of chapter 1. God tells his people (us included) that he will not listen to them even though they make many prayers. When and why does this happen?
- How does God seek to remedy this problem? (verses 16–18)
“When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “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. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:12–20 ESV)