Isaiah opens with some tough words. The prophet’s job, after all, is to call Israel back to God. In verse ten Isaiah calls the Israelites Sodom and Gomorrah. These two cities were famous for their wild and sinful lifestyle, typified by sexual immorality and idol worship. No good Israelite would ever go to these places! So Isaiah opens by telling the people of Israel that they are now just as bad as two of the most evil-filled places ever. It is definitely a way to get their attention.
Isaiah then goes on to reveal how they clothe who they really are on going through the religious motions. The people of Israel are still offering sacrifices at the temple and are still reciting their daily prayers. The people do offer sacrifices but return at once to their sins. So God rejects their hollow prayers too because their “hands are covered in blood”. The people’s insides are still full of sin and evil. Their empty religion is trying to mask this.
Today, are we still living this way? Do we sometimes act like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah? Do we sometimes practice a fake or hollow religion? Do we sometimes fall into sin? I am afraid the answer to all of these questions is at times ‘yes’.
Sin is and always has been one of the realities of human life. We are imperfect therefore we sin. At times we go to church or a Bible study and our mind is consumed by something from work or from home. We practice fake religion in these times. We are there but we are not there. Isaiah offers us a better option.
Isaiah calls us to seek justice, to encourage the oppressed, to defend the first fatherless, to plead the case of the widow. He advises us to be a servant to others. By doing the things God calls us to do we will be led back to God and to God’s ways. This day may we seek to be in service to God, through loving the least and the lost, the poor and the oppressed.