1 These are the messages that came to Isaiah, son of Amoz, in the visions he saw during the reigns of King Uzziah, King Jotham, King Ahaz, and King Hezekiah—all kings of Judah. In these messages God showed him what was going to happen to Judah and Jerusalem in the days ahead.
2 Listen, O heaven and earth, to what the Lord is saying:
The children I raised and cared for so long and tenderly have turned against me. 3 Even the animals—the donkey and the ox—know their owner and appreciate his care for them, but not my people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still don’t care.
4 Oh, what a sinful nation they are! They walk bent-backed beneath their load of guilt. Their fathers before them were evil too. Born to be bad, they have turned their backs upon the Lord and have despised the Holy One of Israel. They have cut themselves off from his help.
5-6 Oh, my people, haven’t you had enough of punishment? Why will you force me to whip you again and again? Must you forever rebel? From head to foot you are sick and weak and faint, covered with bruises and welts and infected wounds, unanointed and unbound. 7 Your country lies in ruins; your cities are burned; while you watch, foreigners are destroying and plundering everything they see. 8 You stand there helpless and abandoned like a watchman’s shanty in the field when the harvesttime is over—or when the crop is stripped and robbed.
9 If the Lord Almighty had not stepped in to save a few of us, we would have been wiped out as Sodom and Gomorrah were. 10 An apt comparison![a] Listen, you leaders of Israel, you men of Sodom and Gomorrah, as I call you now. Listen to the Lord. Hear what he is telling you! 11 I am sick of your sacrifices. Don’t bring me any more of them. I don’t want your fat rams; I don’t want to see the blood from your offerings. 12-13 Who wants your sacrifices when you have no sorrow for your sins? The incense you bring me is a stench in my nostrils. Your holy celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath, and your special days for fasting—even your most pious meetings—all are frauds! I want nothing more to do with them. 14 I hate them all; I can’t stand the sight of them. 15 From now on, when you pray with your hands stretched out to heaven, I won’t look or listen. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are those of murderers; they are covered with the blood of your innocent victims.
16 Oh, wash yourselves! Be clean! Let me no longer see you doing all these wicked things; quit your evil ways. 17 Learn to do good, to be fair, and to help the poor, the fatherless, and widows.
18 Come, let’s talk this over, says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool! 19 If you will only let me help you, if you will only obey, then I will make you rich! 20 But if you keep on turning your backs and refusing to listen to me, you will be killed by your enemies; I, the Lord, have spoken.
21 Jerusalem, once a faithful wife! And now a prostitute! Running after other gods! Once “The City of Fair Play,” but now a gang of murderers. 22 Once like sterling silver; now mixed with worthless alloy! Once so pure, but now diluted like watered-down wine! 23 Your leaders are rebels, companions of thieves; all of them take bribes and won’t defend the widows and orphans. 24 Therefore the Lord, the Mighty One of Israel, says: I will pour out my anger on you, my enemies! 25 I myself will melt you in a smelting pot and skim off your slag.
26 And afterwards I will give you good judges and wise counselors like those you used to have. Then your city shall again be called “The City of Justice” and “The Faithful Town.”
27 Those who return to the Lord, who are just and good, shall be redeemed. 28 (But all sinners shall utterly perish, for they refuse to come to me.) 29 Shame will cover you, and you will blush to think of all those times you sacrificed to idols in your groves of “sacred” oaks. 30 You will perish like a withered tree or a garden without water. 31 The strongest among you will disappear like burning straw; your evil deeds are the spark that sets the straw on fire, and no one will be able to put it out.
- Isaiah 1:10 An apt comparison, implied.