Advent Readings Day 2
Reading: Isaiah 1:11-17
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me… Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:13, 17
When I read Isaiah I get the impression that God’s People started to miss the point along the way. Spend any time reading any of the Prophets and I think you’ll come away with a similar feeling. What did God’s People do that was so bad after all?
Isaiah shows us here that the people were continuing in their public worship services. They were bringing sacrifices and offerings. They were observing the Sabbath and other holy days. They were praying. Yet, the people are accused of having hands full of blood. They were doing wrong, rather than being people of justice and righteousness.
Notice what Isaiah gives as examples, though. Do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow. Isaiah did not give us a list of moral failures or a list of don’ts. Rather he very quickly points to a failure to express God’s heart for justice and for the forgotten. After all, that truly is what righteousness means – it means to act in right ways that display God’s character and His heart.
In some ways Isaiah’s words echo Jesus words when He ministered on earth and held his harshest comments for those who appeared to be following God with their all. They had the worship service down. They were following the moral code to a T. They were kings of what external worship looked like. Yet, they were missing God’s heart.
What about you and I today? As we walk through Advent we are continually reminded of Jesus’ coming as the right and true One who through His death and resurrection took our sin away. He made it so that we no longer have to strive and gave us the promise of life that starts today and goes into all eternity. He took away the need for sacrifice and religious ceremony and instead declared us righteous once and for all through His righteous standing, sacrifice and resurrection. We are washed and made clean by Him. We now are Sons and Daughters of the King of Kings.
Yet, in the midst of that right standing with God through Jesus, we need to hear Isaiah’s call to us and wrestle with it. What are our lives marked by? Isn’t it fair to suggest that since Jesus took care of all sin and separation for us on the cross and that through Him we are not only called His, but also have crossed over from death to life – that our lives would have marks of the People of God? If God is the God of righteousness and justice who cares for the oppressed and forgotten, doesn’t it make sense as His people that we would do right? That we would seek justice? That we would defend the oppressed? That we would take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow?
We are now His…so we are called to act like Him. We are not earning salvation – it is already ours. Rather, we are simply acting as people who truly have crossed over from the Kingdom of Darkness and now are citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Today, let Isaiah’s words search your heart. And as we focus on Jesus’ coming changing everything, find some ways to act like a citizen of His Kingdom towards those who while forgotten are very close to His heart.