Isaiah 1:2-20

God's people are guilty

1:2In chapters 1-5, Isaiah describes the people who live in Judah and in its capital city, Jerusalem. They have problems because they are not obeying God. God says that he will punish them.

2 Hear the Lord, those who live in heaven! Listen to him, you people on the earth! Listen carefully because the Lord has spoken! He says, ‘I have helped my children to grow. I took care of them but now they have turned against me!

1:2When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.

3 An ox knows its master. A donkey knows the place where its master feeds it. But Israel's people do not know me. My people do not understand me.’

4 Oh! Israel, you are a nation of people who do not obey me. The people are guilty of many evil things. Their sins are like a heavy weight on their backs. They are a family of people who do wicked things. They have turned away from the Lord, the Holy God of Israel. They have turned their backs against him.

5 You continue to fight against God. Why do you do that? God will continue to punish you. You are weak and you hurt all over. Your mind and your body have great pain. 6 From the bottom of your feet, to the top of your head, everywhere hurts! There are wounds all over your body that are still bleeding. Nobody has cleaned your wounds or covered them. Nobody has put olive oil on them to make them better.

7 Your land has become useless. Fire has destroyed your towns and cities. Foreign people have taken the crops from your fields, while you stood there and watched. Strangers have destroyed everything in your country.

8 Jerusalem is now like a hut in a vineyard or in a field of crops. It stands there alone, with its enemies all round it.

9 Unless the Lord Almighty had left some of us alive, we would have become like Sodom. We would have been completely destroyed, like Gomorrah.

10 Yes, you are like the rulers of Sodom, so listen to the Lord's message! You are no better than the people in Gomorrah! So listen to what our God is saying to you.

11 The Lord says, ‘All your sacrifices are not important to me. I have received too many sacrifices that you have burned as gifts to me. I have received too many sheep and fat animals. I do not want any more blood from bulls, goats and lambs that you have offered to me as sacrifices. They do not give me any pleasure.

12 You come to worship me in my temple. But are you doing what I want? Did I ask you to march round the temple yards with all your animals?

13 Do not bring any more useless gifts to offer to me! I do not like your incense. You like to have feasts at new moons, or on Sabbath days. But because of your sins, I hate all your holy meetings.

14 I hate your new moon feasts and your holy meetings. They have become like a heavy load for me. I cannot carry it any longer!

15 When you lift up your hands to pray to me, I have to look away. Even if you pray very many times to me, I do not listen to you, because your hands are full of blood.

1:15‘your hands are full of blood’ means that they have killed people, and they have done many bad things.

16 Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean! Remove your sins, so that I no longer see them. Stop doing evil things!

17 Instead, learn to do what is right. Be honest and fair in what you do. Help people who are in pain. Make sure that widows and children who have no family receive justice.’

18 The Lord says, ‘Please come, so that we talk about this together. Even if your sins are like a red stain, they will become as white as snow. Even if they are bright red, they will become like white wool.

1:18God is saying that he will forgive them, even if their sins are very bad. A stain is a strong mark that spoils something that is nice.

19 I will forgive you if you agree to obey me. If you are ready to do that, you will again eat plenty of good food from the land. 20 But if you refuse to obey me and you turn against me, you will die in war.’

That is what the Lord himself has said.