Read Isaiah 57
57 The righteous perish,
and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
to be spared from evil.
2 Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace;
they find rest as they lie in death.
3 “But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,
you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4 Who are you mocking?
At whom do you sneer
and stick out your tongue?
Are you not a brood of rebels,
the offspring of liars?
5 You burn with lust among the oaks
and under every spreading tree;
you sacrifice your children in the ravines
and under the overhanging crags.
6 The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;
indeed, they are your lot.
Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings
and offered grain offerings.
In view of all this, should I relent?
7 You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;
there you went up to offer your sacrifices.
8 Behind your doors and your doorposts
you have put your pagan symbols.
Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,
you climbed into it and opened it wide;
you made a pact with those whose beds you love,
and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.
9 You went to Molek with olive oil
and increased your perfumes.
You sent your ambassadors[b] far away;
you descended to the very realm of the dead!
10 You wearied yourself by such going about,
but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
and so you did not faint.
11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared
that you have not been true to me,
and have neither remembered me
nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent
that you do not fear me?
12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,
and they will not benefit you.
13 When you cry out for help,
let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me
will inherit the land
and possess my holy mountain.”
Comfort for the Contrite
14 And it will be said:
“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 I will not accuse them forever,
nor will I always be angry,
for then they would faint away because of me—
the very people I have created.
17 I was enraged by their sinful greed;
I punished them, and hid my face in anger,
yet they kept on in their willful ways.
18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
19 creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
which cannot rest,
whose waves cast up mire and mud.
21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
This chapter is mainly focused on the guilt and demise of the wicked. At the beginning of the passage, we see the plight of the righteous, and how following their death, God extended them peace as a blessing. Immediately following this, you can feel the intensity of God’s wrath as the passage switches into a confrontation between the listener and the speaker. It starts with a laundry list of insults/accusations that the listener is obviously guilty of. When we view this list of accusations, we can very quickly adopt an attitude of pride by thinking “woah, these people were really bad” or “I’m not as bad as these people.”
The trouble is that this attitude is partially what got these wicked people in trouble. In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus uses the plank analogy to reprimand people’s hypocrisy for judging others while being blind to their own sins. In this analogy, a person who has a plank in his own eye is pointing out a speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye. In Isaiah 57, this is the same point that the speaker makes in verse 4, saying “who are you mocking?” The passage is trying to humble the wicked into realizing the metaphorical planks in their own eyes.
The scary part about some of these sins/accusations that are listed here is that they are generational and applicable to us. We are children of sinners just as they are. Although we may not be literally giving offerings to idols, what are we giving our money to? Who or what do we give our praise to? What pictures are hanging on the walls of our house? Has lust taken control of our thoughts? Upon close inspection, one can find this list of offenses unfortunately relatable. The dreadful depictions of what is in store for the wicked is a terrible warning of what can await us. Thank God that He doesn’t desire these things for us, and has offered grace through repentance. As in this passage and in life, He has provided an opportunity to avoid the “no peace” (verse 21) that we have earned.
- Does this passage point out any specific sin in your life?
- How does this passage change your view of sin?
- God offers a chance for repentance. What other passages come to mind when you think of God’s grace and repentance?
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