In the first fifteen verses of chapter one, Isaiah spells it out; you are stubborn, you are ungrateful, you are saturated with sin. It's only because of God's mercy that all of you haven't been burned up and completely destroyed like the evil doers of Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah then goes on to say that sacrifices, prayers and religious rituals are worthless when they are offered up by a people who DO NOT approach God with hearts of repentance and obedience. In fact, those types of offerings aren't about God at all - those are people doing the church thing to look good to other people. It's going through the motions; it's being a pretender. God doesn't like it, in fact God finds that behavior repulsive. But then God delivers these words: "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. '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 as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient you will eat the best from the land; BUT if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." Isaiah is a long book - almost 100 pages in my Bible, but God doesn't want to save hope for the end of the message; He includes it with the introduction! Make no mistake, God is going to swiftly deal with sin, but there is restoration possible for those who repent. Praise God!
Stop doing wrong Stop sinning. Don't just feel bad, don't settle for guilt. Repent. Acknowledge the sin, don't deny it. Turn from the sin, don't just talk about not sinning any more. Sin no more.
Learn to do right It's not enough to just stop sinning. Next I have to choose to learn what God requires of those who love, serve and follow Him.
Seek justice Take the time to learn what is right and righteous and then then take action.
Encourage the oppressed Life is hard enough. I should look for practical ways to ease (and not increase) the burdens of those around me. I may even have to make amends for some burdensthat I have placed on others.
Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow I have a responsibility to the marginalized in my society. I need to speak up and stand up for those who have no strength or voice.
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. God's desire is to purify and redeem - and that is awesome!
If you are willing and obedient you will eat the best from the land God doesn't require that I am perfect, He requires that I am willing and that I obey. It's about God - His purpose, His plan, His standard and His will. God blesses and honors obedience.
BUT if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." If I stubbornly cling to my will, my way and my sin - it will ultimately lead to my destruction.
In these verses there are only two choices presented: I can be willing and obedient or I can resist and rebel. A journey of hope or a journey of hopelessness; A path to deliverance or a path to destruction.
It's my choice to make.
It's your choice too.