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FAITH: God always offers hope

Rev. Brad McKenzie

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

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.

Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.

If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear 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 well-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 has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread 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 the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.  Isaiah 1: 1-17 ESV

I have referenced this passage in meetings and taught on it in a Bible study over this past week.  There is much to unpack which this article will not be able to address.  I encourage you to read the passage closely and see the different issues the Lord references and consider what it speaks to you.  Where I want to draw us for this moment is the grief and the burden I feel of how well our culture and country compares to this description of Judah and Jerusalem.  This obviously cannot compare to the grief the Lord feels for His people, living beings who He created and gave His son to redeem, and the death giving sin entangling them.

Yet, God always offers hope!

 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall 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 eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Isaiah 1: 18-20 ESV

God says, If you are willing and obedient, you will be blessed, but if you refuse and rebel, the reality and consequences of sin and evil will consume you!

I leave you with this, you and I have the opportunity to follow the Lord and worship Him with our lives.  He has given us everything we need to be faithful and obedient to Him, we just have to do it!

There is no sin so great the power of God can’t bring freedom!  That is Good News!  You are Valued and Loved, Pastor Brad

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.