If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. – Isa. 1:19-20 NIV
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The Prophet Isaiah remains one of the greatest prophets in biblical times with his ministry activities covering both the Northern kingdom of Samaria and the Southern kingdom of Jerusalem. His message was mainly to highlight to the Israelites of both kingdoms the need for them to repent from their evil ways as all that can come out from such acts will be the anger of the Lord. The biblical book named after him commenced with the views of the Almighty God about the Israelites as was shown to him. The Lord admitted that He had raised rebellious children who would not acknowledge Him, have spurned Him and have turned their backs on Him – Isa. 1:2-4.
With the Almighty God wondering why they persist in doing evil against Him despite His several afflictions on them and His intention not to relent unless they change their ways, the Prophet Isaiah advised the Israelites and their elders to heed to the instructions of the Lord. – Isa. 1:5-10. He informed them of how the Lord considers their sacrifices and burnt offerings as an irritation just as He has no regard for their supposed sacred gatherings as the Lord has taken a decision to turn His ears away from their prayers because their hands are full of blood – Isa. 1:11-15. The Prophet Isaiah made them realise that refusal to change will only bring destruction.
Should they however be willing to change, he suggested the following steps:
- They will need to wash and make themselves clean – Isa. 1:16a. As much as physical cleanliness is important to the Lord in order to be well positioned to worship Him, the reference here is more to avoiding spiritually filthy acts. The Christian must stop any involvement with negative spiritual activities and take a decision to live a life that is spiritually healthy. Without this spiritual cleanliness which translates to holiness, it is simply impossible to see God, more so relate with Him – Heb. 12:14.
- They will have to take their evil deeds out of his sight, stop doing wrong and learn to do right at all times – Isa. 1:16b. It seems doing the wrong thing is the default setting of man as it is rare to see someone who at some point would not have been involved in one form of evil or the other so when the Prophet Isaiah used the word “learn”, he was sure that man would have to be tutored on doing good. To learn to do good, the Christian must relate with the Word of God on a regular basis as that is the only source of knowledge of good. Knowing good will not be sufficient as such would also be expected to learn to do good. This will be possible if the enablement is provided by the Holy Spirit. The lure to do evil is very strong and natural ability of man will be insufficient to overcome it except with the supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit – Psa. 34:15.
- They will have to seek justice at all times and in all situations – Isa. 1:17a. To seek justice is to seek to out up good behavior and mete out good treatment to all people at all times. The one who claims to be a Christian but cares less about justice may still find him/her self on the wrong side of the Almighty God.
- They will have to defend the oppressed at all times – Isa. 1:17b. The one that claims to be a Christian but turns away from acts of oppression, deciding to do nothing about it should not expect to receive favour from the Almighty God as He considers oppression as evil. The Lord expects the one who claims to be His follower to not only avoid oppressing anyone but put up acts in support of the one that is being oppressed.
- They have to take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow – Isa. 1:17c. That the Almighty God is interested in the affairs of the fatherless and widow should be clear to anyone who claims to have a relationship with him. The psalmist says he is the father of the fatherless and husband to widows – Psa. 68:5-6. The one who shows care for these group of people should expect special appreciation of such gestures from the Lord just as the one that ignores them or participate in their oppression should expect the anger of the Lord.
He made them aware of the invitation from the Lord asking them to come to him so all matters can be settled. The extent of the sin will not matter because irrespective of the sin, He is willing to forgive and grant then the opportunity of a new beginning. He concluded his advise to them with the scripture that is the foundation of today’s devotion which is that, should they be willing to accept the invite of the Lord, they will eat the good things of the Land. This conclusion eliminates all doubt about the presence of goodness on the land but the obvious inability of the Israelites to enjoy such goodness. They probably would have concluded that the Lord was not wrong when He told them they were coming to a land flowing with milk and honey.
Many Christians today are in the situation that the Israelites in the time of Prophet Isaiah found themselves. They have joined others in complaining about the hardship in the land. In terms of difficulty in surviving the challenges of life, there is no difference between what the Christians and non-Christians are going through. This is not because the Lord is not capable of creating a difference but because supposed little issue like those listed above are still being overlooked. Indeed they have come to know the Almighty God as the only god and profess the Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, but they continue to be involved in actions that daily separate Him from them. Just like the Israelites, they are facing unnecessary difficulties in resolving life challenges as that is the lord’s way of bringing them to order but either out of ignorance or desire to have what the Lord does not want them to have, they continue on a path that can only lead to more pain and distress and possibly destruction.
The Christian today had better do a review of his/her actions with the intention to ensure that he/she is not running foul of any of the above requirements as nothing apart from a change from such wrongful acts will save such from the distress he/she is going through. The good news is that the Almighty God does not consider any transgressions too much to be forgiven. All He demands is a sincere decision to repent and turn a new leaf and He is ready to wipe away all the sins of the past and its consequences. Take the decision to do the needful today and begin to live the new life. May God help you to the needful in Jesus name. Amen.