Summary: God says, make yourselves clean. And he furthermore holds out the promise that we really can become clean.
Isaiah 1:10-20 Come, Let Us Reason
7/2/00e D. Marion Clark
We are finally getting back to Isaiah. If you can recall four weeks back, God was rather upset with Israel. When I use the term Israel, by the way, I am using the covenant name for God’s people. Isaiah is actually preaching in and most to Judah, but he will often refer to the country with the covenant name of Israel. Anyhow, God is upset because his covenant people have rebelled against him persisting in sin.
After a quote from God complaining about Israel in verses 2 and 3, Isaiah bemoans the sin and condition of his nation, concluding with this observation in verse 9:
9 Unless the LORD Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.
God’s chastisement was so severe that, if he had not checked his punishment, Israel would have been as thoroughly destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities obliterated in the book of Genesis. The mention of those two cities set up Isaiah’s introduction to the next portion of his message from God.
The Insult 10
Have you ever been insulted? I mean really insulted. Someone calls you by the most offensive term to you or refers to you in the most despicable image you could imagine. If so, you might be able to understand the insult that Israel receives from God.
10 Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
Before, Isaiah compared the devastation Israel received to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here he calls both Israel’s rulers and Israel’s people by the names of the cities that embody the ultimate in degradation. That Israel was not destroyed was not due to the people being less sinful than the degraded citizens of those wicked cities, but to God’s mercy. In truth, the people of God’s covenant were just as offensive.
God Offended 11-15
In these next verses, which further express how offended God is by his people, we are made to understand what their sin and rebellion was not. The people had not abandoned the worship of God. They had not, at least consciously rejected God and his Law. Indeed, they would have considered themselves rather faithful in their observing the religious laws of the covenant. They are bringing sacrifices to the Temple, good ones too – animals fattened specifically for sacrifice. Hebrews 10:22 says, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. They were shedding lots of blood through their sacrifices. They attended the Temple frequently and participated faithfully in the religious celebrations established by the law of Moses. They regularly prayed. The practice of religion was as strong as ever, and God hated it.
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the LORD.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure