New International Version

Isaiah 1

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

A Rebellious Nation

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
    For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”

Woe to the sinful nation,
    a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
    children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
    they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
    and turned their backs on him.

Why should you be beaten anymore?
    Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
    your whole heart afflicted.
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
    there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
    and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
    or soothed with olive oil.

Your country is desolate,
    your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
    right before you,
    laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
Daughter Zion is left
    like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
    like a city under siege.
Unless the Lord Almighty
    had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
    we would have been like Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
    you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—
    what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
    of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
    in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
    who has asked this of you,
    this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
    stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;
20 but if you resist and rebel,
    you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21 See how the faithful city
    has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
    righteousness used to dwell in her—
    but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
    your choice wine is diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
    and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;[b]
    I will thoroughly purge away your dross
    and remove all your impurities.
26 I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
    your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
    the City of Righteousness,
    the Faithful City.”

27 Zion will be delivered with justice,
    her penitent ones with righteousness.
28 But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
    and those who forsake the Lord will perish.

29 “You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks
    in which you have delighted;
you will be disgraced because of the gardens
    that you have chosen.
30 You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
    like a garden without water.
31 The mighty man will become tinder
    and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
    with no one to quench the fire.”

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 1:17 Or justice. / Correct the oppressor
  2. Isaiah 1:25 That is, against Jerusalem

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.”