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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 1, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Isaiah 1:1, 10–20

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Hear the word of the Lord,
    you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the teaching of our God,
    you people of Gomorrah!
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls
    or of lambs or of goats.

When you come to appear before me,
    who asked this from your hand?
    Trample my courts no more!
Bringing offerings is futile;
    incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and calling of convocation—
    I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.
Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
When you stretch out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove your evil deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil; learn to do good;
seek justice; rescue the oppressed;
defend the orphan; plead for the widow.

Come now, let us argue it out,
    says the Lord:
If your sins are like scarlet,
    will they become like snow?
If they are red like crimson,
    will they become like wool?
If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land,
but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be devoured by the sword,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (NRSV)

Well, this is a tough passage! We have God, who is angry with the people of Israel, for their behavior and their continued sacrifices for forgiveness, which maybe were not very genuine. I think we all have moments when our actions are not kind, and we dismiss them, and move on from there.

I think back to the heavy time of the pandemic, before vaccines were available. I was terrified for my health and the health of my family and was not all that kind to my neighbors. I had plenty of uncomfortable encounters with others, out of fear, but that did not excuse my behavior. I remember having a moment in the hallway of our apartment building, in tears, apologizing to a neighbor for my unfriendliness, and rude demeanor I had over seeing him without a mask. We made amends, and I’m glad that I took that step to make our situation better. It was such a relief!

This pandemic has taken a major toll on all of us, especially on those that are less fortunate. I’ve had the privilege of having employment, working from home, good health insurance—the list goes on. It is our time (and has been for a long time) to fight for those who are less advantaged. My NIV Bible states “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed.” That is our call. What will we do to fight for others?

Gracious God, thank you for always loving us, even when we struggle to be kind and helpful to others. Help me to fight for those in need, and be a kind, loving person to all that I meet. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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