Greetings to you! We are in the eighth Sunday before Easter and ten days before Ash Wednesday. The theme for our morning’s meditation is “Our sins begin with refusing to hear God.”
In our own lives we are able to discern what is right and wrong but we choose not to do what is right. We refuse to hear God even though he constantly speaks to us and warns us to repent of our sinful ways. We are called to hear the warnings that Christ has given and repent of our sinful ways.
In the Old Testament passage from the book of Isaiah, we notice that Israel as a nation failed to obey and trust in God. Isaiah calls to the heavens and the earth as witnesses. The court is convened and all creation is called to be witnesses because the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah was going to teach Israel that there was a relationship between keeping the covenant and the prosperity of the nation. Isaiah brings three key charges against Judah. Yahweh says, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
Two examples from nature are given to show how Judah had rebelled against Yahweh. A child normally would reflect their parents because they had brought them up. But the people of Judah had rebelled against Yahweh, just like a rebellious child. The second example is about the ox and the donkey. Oxen listen to their master’s voice and the donkey knows the source of its food. From these two example Isaiah shows that sin is contrary to the nature. Even the animals had common sense to go back to their masters, but Israel did not even have that amount of common sense.
The second point that Isaiah makes is the abandonment of the Lord which shows that sin is contrary to privilege. Isaiah says, “Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”
The people of Judah were a privileged people because God had called them out to be a ‘holy nation’ but on the contrary, they had become a ‘sinning nation’. They were to be the people of God – redeemed and unique. But now they were the people of the evil one who were heavy with iniquity. Their character had been corrupted and Judah as a nation lived contrary to the will and character of Yahweh. They were to be the children of Yahweh but they became the children of corruption.
They not only forgot their commitment to Yahweh but actively rejected him. They reject the Holy One of God – a pure and holy God who had taken a people out to reflect something of his character and nature. Holiness is the heart and nature of God but they had treated him with scorn by leading immoral lives.
We too can reject the Holy One of God by leading immoral lives and persisting in our wicked ways and refuse to hear God. God challenges us this morning to hear his voice, to repent and turn back to him. If we know the truth and deliberately persist in wrong doing then we will face judgement.
Thirdly, sin is contrary to reason and productive of disaster. “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.”
Judah had been punished severely and yet they persisted in rebellion. Inspite of all the punishments they had received by all the foreign invasions, they still persisted in rebellion. Their head was injured and their heart afflicted and therefore their ability to think had become warped and their love had gone awry.
Isaiah reminds the people of Judah to see what their rebellion had led to—anxiety, sickness, destructor and death. In other words, even though we have been hurt by our own sinful behaviour we keep on repeating the same sins over and over again. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
God calls us this morning to turn back to him and to listen to his voice. May we truly repent and turn back to him.
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