Starting things off right away here, we are introduced to Isaiah. He’s the son of Amoz, and he has a vision regarding Judah and Jerusalem. “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord has spoken; Children I have raised and exalted, yet they have rebelled against Me (Isaiah 1:2).” It seems that this vision is taking place alongside many of the events that I read about in Melachim. But now, instead of hearing the facts on the ground, we’re hearing directly from someone in contact with God about His reaction to the events – more of the why than the what. God believes that the people are ungrateful to Him as their creator and protector, and therefore they have sinned and corrupted future generations through their actions. The situation has become pretty dire, and still the people don’t stop. “Your land is desolate; your cities burnt with fire. Your land – in your presence, strangers devour it; and it is desolate as that turned over to strangers (Isaiah 1:7).” The people seem incredibly childlike, in the worst way possible. They know they’re doing wrong, and yet they have no self control to stop it.
The people are still sacrificing, but without the actions to back it up, it’s all in vain. I feel like that message can be heard in so many situations. So many people are terrible all year, and then once or twice they atone, either to God on Yom Kippur, or families on the various days designated for them, or on staff appreciation days at work. What really counts isn’t the empty gestures of one day, but the unsung actions on all of the others. “Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the robbed, perform justice for the orphan, plead the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17).” Unlike so many commandments which seem weird to me, this one makes total sense. Do good in the world. Done.
I already like how this chapter made me think and reflect much more than nearly all of Melachim did. I’m excited to see how this continues.