1 The righteous have perished, but there is not a man who cares. And loyal men are being gathered, while there is no one who understands, because the righteous one is being gathered from the a place where there is wickedness. 2 he enters peace; they will rest on their beds, walking straight ahead of him. 3 “And you, come near here, you children of a magic arts practitioner, offspring of an adulterer and she who commits fornication. 4 Who are you making fun of? At whom do you open wide your mouth making your tongue long? Are you not criminal youth, offspring of deception, 5 who make yourselves burn with lust among the oaks, under every leafy tree, who slaughter children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks? 6 Your fate rests with those gemstones of the valley; they, they are your destiny; in fact, to them you have poured out a drink offering, you have brought a food offering. should I change my mind about these sins?
gemstones as a destiny
Using religion for self-satisfaction, pornography, illicit sex, infanticide, living for accumulation of wealth alone – these are some of the things that the neighbouring nations did. The self-respecting Israelites would stand with their mouths wide open and their tongue extended in astonishment at these openly evil acts. They expected those who did such things to be punished by Almighty God. In the end, they expected the wealth of these nations to be destroyed, and the people with it.
But Isaiah dares to accuse these self-righteous Israelites of harbouring the same greed, lust and rebellion that motivated the pagans surrounding them. Yahveh asks these secret sinners if they expect to get away with the very sins that they expect him to destroy the Gentiles for. Should God change his mind about these sins, just because they are within his covenant community?
God has a plan. He wants to lead these pagan neighbours to his righteousness, to forgive their sins and cleanse them. But, how can he do this when the very covenant community he plans to bring them into is secretly seeking the same life of lust, murder and greed as the communities he wants to take them out of? God’s kingdom should be different.
LORD, cleanse our hearts. We do not want you to overlook our sins. We want you to take us away from that life that is heading for destruction.