The Message

Isaiah 1

Messages of Judgment

Quit Your Worship Charades

1The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw regarding Judah and Jerusalem during the times of the kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

2-4 Heaven and earth, you’re the jury.
    Listen to God’s case:
“I had children and raised them well,
    and they turned on me.
The ox knows who’s boss,
    the mule knows the hand that feeds him,
But not Israel.
    My people don’t know up from down.
Shame! Misguided God-dropouts,
    staggering under their guilt-baggage,
Gang of miscreants,
    band of vandals—
My people have walked out on me, their God,
    turned their backs on The Holy of Israel,
    walked off and never looked back.

5-9 “Why bother even trying to do anything with you
    when you just keep to your bullheaded ways?
You keep beating your heads against brick walls.
    Everything within you protests against you.
From the bottom of your feet to the top of your head,
    nothing’s working right.
Wounds and bruises and running sores—
    untended, unwashed, unbandaged.
Your country is laid waste,
    your cities burned down.
Your land is destroyed by outsiders while you watch,
    reduced to rubble by barbarians.
Daughter Zion is deserted—
    like a tumbledown shack on a dead-end street,
Like a tarpaper shanty on the wrong side of the tracks,
    like a sinking ship abandoned by the rats.
If God-of-the-Angel-Armies hadn’t left us a few survivors,
    we’d be as desolate as Sodom, doomed just like Gomorrah.

10 “Listen to my Message,
    you Sodom-schooled leaders.
Receive God’s revelation,
    you Gomorrah-schooled people.

11-12 “Why this frenzy of sacrifices?”
    God’s asking.
“Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
    rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don’t you think I’ve had my fill
    of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
    whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
    all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?

13-17 “Quit your worship charades.
    I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
    meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
    You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
    while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
    I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
    I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
    people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
    Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
    so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
    Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
    Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
    Go to bat for the defenseless.

Let’s Argue This Out

18-20 “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.”
    This is God’s Message:
“If your sins are blood-red,
    they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
    they’ll be like wool.
If you’ll willingly obey,
    you’ll feast like kings.
But if you’re willful and stubborn,
    you’ll die like dogs.”
That’s right. God says so.

Those Who Walk Out on God

21-23 Oh! Can you believe it? The chaste city
    has become a whore!
She was once all justice,
    everyone living as good neighbors,
And now they’re all
    at one another’s throats.
Your coins are all counterfeits.
    Your wine is watered down.
Your leaders are turncoats
    who keep company with crooks.
They sell themselves to the highest bidder
    and grab anything not nailed down.
They never stand up for the homeless,
    never stick up for the defenseless.

24-31 This Decree, therefore, of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    the Strong One of Israel:
“This is it! I’ll get my oppressors off my back.
    I’ll get back at my enemies.
I’ll give you the back of my hand,
    purge the junk from your life, clean you up.
I’ll set honest judges and wise counselors among you
    just like it was back in the beginning.
Then you’ll be renamed
    City-That-Treats-People-Right, the True-Blue City.”
God’s right ways will put Zion right again.
    God’s right actions will restore her penitents.
But it’s curtains for rebels and God-traitors,
    a dead end for those who walk out on God.
“Your dalliances in those oak grove shrines
    will leave you looking mighty foolish,
All that fooling around in god and goddess gardens
    that you thought was the latest thing.
You’ll end up like an oak tree
    with all its leaves falling off,
Like an unwatered garden,
    withered and brown.
‘The Big Man’ will turn out to be dead bark and twigs,
    and his ‘work,’ the spark that starts the fire
That exposes man and work both
    as nothing but cinders and smoke.”

New International Reader's Version

Isaiah 1

1Here is the vision about Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah saw. It came to him when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were ruling. They were kings of Judah. Isaiah was the son of Amoz.

The Nation Refuses to Obey the Lord

Listen to me, you heavens! Pay attention to me, earth!
    The Lord has said,
“I raised children. I brought them up.
    But they have refused to obey me.
The ox knows its master.
    The donkey knows where its owner feeds it.
But Israel does not know me.
    My people do not understand me.”

How terrible it will be for this sinful nation!
    They are loaded down with guilt.
They are people who do nothing but evil.
    They are children who are always sinning.
They have deserted the Lord.
    They have turned against the Holy One of Israel.
    They have turned their backs on him.

Israel, why do you want to be beaten all the time?
    Why do you always refuse to obey the Lord?
Your head is covered with wounds.
    Your whole heart is weak.
There isn’t a healthy spot on your body.
    You are not healthy from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head.
You have nothing but wounds, cuts
    and open sores.
They haven’t been cleaned up or bandaged
    or treated with olive oil.

Your country has been deserted.
    Your cities have been burned down.
The food from your fields is being eaten up by outsiders.
    They are doing it right in front of you.
Your land has been completely destroyed.
    It looks as if strangers have taken it over.
The city of Zion is left like a shed
    where someone stands guard in a vineyard.
It is left like a hut in a cucumber field.
    It’s like a city being attacked.
The Lord who rules over all
    has let some people live through that time of trouble.
If he hadn’t, we would have become like Sodom.
    We would have been like Gomorrah.

10 Rulers of Sodom,
    hear the Lord’s message.
People of Gomorrah,
    listen to the instruction of our God.
11 “Do you think I need any more of your sacrifices?”
    asks the Lord.
“I have more than enough of your burnt offerings.
    I have more than enough of rams
    and the fat of your fattest animals.
I do not find any pleasure
    in the blood of your bulls, lambs and goats.
12 Who asked you to bring all these animals
    when you come to worship me?
Who asked you and your animals
    to walk all over my courtyards?
13 Stop bringing offerings that do not mean anything to me!
    I hate your incense.
I can’t stand your worthless gatherings.
    I can’t stand the way you celebrate your New Moon feasts,
    Sabbath days and special services.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your other appointed feasts
    I hate with my whole being.
They have become a heavy load to me.
    I am tired of carrying it.
15 You might spread out your hands toward me when you pray.
    But I do not look at you.
You might even offer many prayers.
    But I am not listening to them.
Your hands are covered with the blood of the people you have murdered.
16     So wash and make yourselves clean.
Get your evil actions out of my sight!
    Stop doing what is wrong!
17     Learn to do what is right!
Treat people fairly.
    Help those who are treated badly.
Stand up in court for children whose fathers have died.
    And do the same thing for widows.

18 “Come. Let us settle this matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Even though your sins are bright red,
    they will be as white as snow.
Even though they are deep red,
    they will be white like wool.
19 But you have to be willing to change and obey me.
    If you are, you will eat the good things that grow on the land.
20 But if you are not willing to obey me,
    you will be killed by swords.”
The Lord has spoken.

21 See how the faithful city of Jerusalem
    has become like a prostitute!
Once it was full of people who treated others fairly.
    Those who did what was right used to live in it.
    But now murderers live there!
22 Jerusalem, your silver isn’t pure anymore.
    Your best wine has been made weak with water.
23 Your rulers refuse to obey the Lord.
    They join forces with robbers.
All of them love to accept money from those who want special favors.
    They are always looking for gifts from other people.
They don’t stand up in court for children whose fathers have died.
    They don’t do it for widows either.
24 The Lord is the Mighty One of Israel.
    The Lord who rules over all announces,
“Israel, you have become my enemies.
    I will act against you in my anger.
    I will pay you back for what you have done.
25 I will turn my power against you.
    I will make you completely ‘clean.’
    I will remove everything that is not pure.
26 I will give you leaders like the ones you had long ago.
    I will give you rulers like those you had at the beginning.
Then you will be called
    the City That Does What Is Right.
    You will also be called the Faithful City.”

27 Zion will be saved when justice is done.
    Those who are sorry for their sins will be saved
    when what is right is done.
28 But sinners and those who refuse to obey the Lord will be destroyed.
    And those who desert the Lord will die.

29 “Israel, you take delight in worshiping among the sacred oak trees.
    You will be full of shame for doing that.
You have chosen to worship in the sacred gardens.
    You will be dishonored for doing that.
30 You will be like an oak tree whose leaves are dying.
    You will be like a garden that doesn’t have any water.
31 Your strongest men will become like dry pieces of wood.
    Their worship of other gods will be the spark that lights the fire.
Everything will be burned up.
    No one will be there to put the fire out.”