Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evil doers,

Children who deal corruptly!

They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel,

They are utterly estranged.

Isaiah 1: 4

 

It would be easy to look at these words from the prophet and say that they apply to the ancient people of Israel and that they are about a time in their history when the chosen nation had become terribly distanced from God due to their sinful disobedience. This would be true. We could also take this cautionary thought and consider it a warning intended to jolt into an attitude of repentance those other people in our society who are obviously living unrighteously; this would be partially true. These interpretations of Isaiah’s words are, frankly, the ones that are most comfortable and the least personal for me. The problem with this approach is that it seriously limits what God is saying to us, and it does nothing to challenge God’s people to follow Him and to act upon His expressed will.

 

It is my belief that God is speaking to our time in history. His words are intended for the ears of you and me and describe the place where we live today. Isaiah cries out with words of dire warning that are directed at the way that each of us has chosen to live. No matter where we live, who our parents are, or what we do in this life we are all born and raised into a spirit of sinful disobedience. Unfortunately, even after we have accepted Christ’s gift of a saving relationship, it seems that most of us are not all that willing to place ourselves in that uncomfortable and even risky place of standing up to our depraved culture and joining Isaiah in uttering God’s appeal to repentance and to righteousness.

 

Standing up for justice, truth, and holy living means that we must reject much of what our culture holds up as sacred. Yet, while we do this, God grants us no margin for becoming judgmental and unloving when it comes to relating to people. This is a fine and a hard line to walk. The course that Christ calls us to follow is one that is charted upon the fact that thinking, saying, and doing what is right in the eyes of God is not going to be popular or readily accepted. However, when people follow God’s law and remain faithful to Christ despite the cost, they find life. We are called to be people who bring the life that is found in God’s truth to our darkened land. This starts now. It is done by individuals who determine to stand strong in the face of a culturally endorsed anti-God movement. Finally, God’s voice is heard most clearly when His people set aside their insignificant differences and join together in worship of the true King which leads to repentance and to fearless engagement with our world’s false and destructive doctrines.