The sins of the people in the country called Judah
1:1In Part 1 (Chapters 1-5), Isaiah describes the people who live in the country called Judah and in its capital city, Jerusalem.
1:1We can put Part 1 into smaller parts. This makes it easier to understand:
1:1Isaiah 1:1-9 The Problems of their Country
1:1Isaiah 1:10-20 and 2:6-21 The Problems of their Religion
1:1Isaiah 1:21-31 and 2:22-4:1 The Problems of their People
1:1Isaiah 2:1-5 and 4:2-6 are not about problems. They contain promises.
1:1Chapter 5 is not about problems. It tells the people what God will do to them. Because they have not obeyed him, he will punish them.
1 This is what Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw. He saw things about his country that was called Judah. And he saw things about the city called Jerusalem. It happened when Uzziah, then Jotham, then Ahaz and then Hezekiah were kings of Judah.
2 Hear the Lord, those who live in heaven! And listen to him, you earth, because the Lord has spoken! He has said, ‘I have helped my sons to grow. And I have loved them. But even they have fought against me!
3 A cow knows its master. And a horse knows where the farmer feeds it. But Israel's people do not know me. My people do not understand me.’
4 Oh! You are a country of people who do not obey me. All your people are like people who are carrying heavy things. They are the wrong things that you have done. You are a family of people who are always doing bad things. You are sons who destroy everything. They have left the Lord. They think that the Holy God of Israel is silly. They have become strangers. Their backs are towards him.
5 So, you continue to fight against God. God will only hurt you again. Your whole head is not well and your whole heart is ill.
6 From the part under the feet, even to the head, there is no health in you. There are only places where people have hit you. There are only places that hurt. People have cut you until you bleed. Nobody has cleaned you. Nobody has tied a cloth round the places where you are bleeding. Nobody has put medicine on them.
7 Your country is empty. Fire has burned your cities. Foreign people have taken everything from your fields. They did it in front of you. Strangers have destroyed your country.
8 The Daughter of Zion, (Jerusalem), is still there like an empty hut in a vineyard. (Jerusalem is) like a hut in a field of fruit. It is like a city that an enemy is attacking.
9 Unless the Lord of Many Armies had left some people alive, we would have been like Sodom. We would have been like Gomorrah.
The problems of the religion of the country called Judah
10 Hear what the Lord says, you rulers of Sodom. Listen to our God. He is saying what you must do, you people in Gomorrah.
11 ‘All your sacrifices do not matter to me.’ The Lord is saying, ‘I have had enough sacrifices that you have burned as gifts to me. I have had enough male sheep and the best bits of fat animals. I have had enough of the blood of bulls, goats and young sheep. They do not give pleasure to me.
12 You come to appear in front of me at certain times. But nobody asked you to do that. Do not walk heavily round my temple.
13 Do not bring gifts to me that do not mean anything! I do not like your incense. I do not like your new moons, your Sabbaths and your special meetings. Those meetings are bad.
14 I really do not like your new moon meetings and your holy days. They have become like a heavy thing for me. I am tired because I have to carry them.
15 I will hide my eyes from you, when you lift up your hands to me. I will not listen to you, even if you pray often. Your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean! Take away the bad things that you are doing. Then I will not see them. Do not continue to do what is wrong.
17 Learn to do what is right. Your purpose must be justice. Do not let masters be very cruel to people. Do not let people hurt children who have no father. Say good things on behalf of widows.
18 Come, now,’ the Lord is saying. ‘We should talk about this together. Even if your sins are as bright red, they will be as white as snow. Even if they are as dark red, they will be like wool.
19 Agree with me. And obey me. If you do those things, you will eat the best food in the country.
20 But if you do not do those things, the sword will kill you. It will kill you if you do not obey me. It will kill you if you continue to fight against me.’ That is what the Lord himself has said.
The problems of the people who live in the country called Judah
21 Oh! The City that loved the Lord (as a wife) has become like a prostitute! The city was full of justice. Good people lived in her. But now there are people who murder other people there.
22 Your silver has become dirt and you have mixed water with your best wine.
23 Your rulers are fighting against God. And they are friends of robbers. They all accept gifts from people. And then they help people that they should not help because of those gifts. And they all hope for gifts like those. But they do not help children who have no father. They do not help those children when people hurt them. The widows have problems. But nobody tells the rulers about those problems.
24 So the Lord says this. He is the Lord of Many Armies and he is the Powerful God of Israel. ‘Oh! I will get rest from my enemies. And I will punish those people who fight against me.
25 And I will turn my hand against you. And I will burn with very hot fire everything that makes you not clean. So then you will be clean.
26 And I will give back to you your judges, as you had them a long time ago. And I will give back to you your advisors, as you had them at the beginning. After that, you will be called The Good City, and The City that Loves Me.’
27 God will use justice to make Zion free. He will make things right for the people who return to him.
28 But he will kill people who sin. And he will kill those people who continue to fight against him. The Lord will kill everybody who goes away from him.
29 Really, they will be ashamed of their special trees called oaks. You have found a lot of pleasure in them. The gardens that you have chosen will make you really ashamed.
30 You will be like an oak tree with dying leaves. You will be like a garden without water.
31 The strong man will become like something that burns easily. His work will be like something that causes things to burn. They will both burn together and nobody will put out the fire.