Isaiah's vision and message
1This is a vision that God showed to Isaiah, the son of Amoz. It was a message about his country, Judah, and the city of Jerusalem. #1:1 Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah. God showed it to Isaiah at the time when Uzziah, then Jotham, then Ahaz and then Hezekiah were kings of Judah.
God's people are guilty #1:2 In chapters 1-5, Isaiah describes the people who live in Judah and in its capital city, Jerusalem. They have problems because they are not obeying God. God says that he will punish them.
2Hear the Lord, those who live in heaven! #1:2 When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there. Listen to him, you people on the earth! Listen carefully because the Lord has spoken! He says, ‘I have helped my children to grow. I took care of them but now they have turned against me!
3An ox knows its master. A donkey knows the place where its master feeds it. But Israel's people do not know me. My people do not understand me.’
4Oh! Israel, you are a nation of people who do not obey me. The people are guilty of many evil things. Their sins are like a heavy weight on their backs. They are a family of people who do wicked things. They have turned away from the Lord, the Holy God of Israel. They have turned their backs against him.
5You continue to fight against God. Why do you do that? God will continue to punish you. You are weak and you hurt all over. Your mind and your body have great pain. 6From the bottom of your feet, to the top of your head, everywhere hurts! There are wounds all over your body that are still bleeding. Nobody has cleaned your wounds or covered them. Nobody has put olive oil on them to make them better.
7Your land has become useless. Fire has destroyed your towns and cities. Foreign people have taken the crops from your fields, while you stood there and watched. Strangers have destroyed everything in your country.
8Jerusalem is now like a hut in a vineyard or in a field of crops. It stands there alone, with its enemies all round it.
9Unless the Lord Almighty had left some of us alive, we would have become like Sodom. We would have been completely destroyed, like Gomorrah.
10Yes, you are like the rulers of Sodom, so listen to the Lord's message! You are no better than the people in Gomorrah! So listen to what our God is saying to you.
11The Lord says, ‘All your sacrifices are not important to me. I have received too many sacrifices that you have burned as gifts to me. I have received too many sheep and fat animals. I do not want any more blood from bulls, goats and lambs that you have offered to me as sacrifices. They do not give me any pleasure.
12You come to worship me in my temple. But are you doing what I want? Did I ask you to march round the temple yards with all your animals?
13Do not bring any more useless gifts to offer to me! I do not like your incense. You like to have feasts at new moons, or on Sabbath days. But because of your sins, I hate all your holy meetings.
14I hate your new moon feasts and your holy meetings. They have become like a heavy load for me. I cannot carry it any longer!
15When you lift up your hands to pray to me, I have to look away. Even if you pray very many times to me, I do not listen to you, because your hands are full of blood. #1:15 ‘your hands are full of blood’ means that they have killed people, and they have done many bad things.
16Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean! Remove your sins, so that I no longer see them. Stop doing evil things!
17Instead, learn to do what is right. Be honest and fair in what you do. Help people who are in pain. Make sure that widows and children who have no family receive justice.’
18The Lord says, ‘Please come, so that we talk about this together. Even if your sins are like a red stain, they will become as white as snow. Even if they are bright red, they will become like white wool. #1:18 God is saying that he will forgive them, even if their sins are very bad. A stain is a strong mark that spoils something that is nice.
19I will forgive you if you agree to obey me. If you are ready to do that, you will again eat plenty of good food from the land. 20But if you refuse to obey me and you turn against me, you will die in war.’
That is what the Lord himself has said.
Jerusalem is guilty
21Oh! Jerusalem! Once you loved the Lord, as a wife loves her husband. But now you have become like a prostitute! At one time, the city was full of justice, and honest people lived there. But now the city is full of murderers!
22Your pure silver has become dirt. You have mixed water with your best wine.
23Your rulers have turned against God. They are friends of robbers. They all accept bribes and they love to receive gifts. But they do not help widows or children who have no family. They do not make sure that they receive justice.
24So the Lord says this. He is the Lord Almighty, Israel's Mighty One. He says, ‘Oh! I will punish my enemies as they deserve. I will pay them back!
25I will turn against you, Jerusalem. I will make you pure again. But you will be like metal that burns in a very hot fire to remove all the dirt.
26Then I will again give you honest judges, as you had a long time ago. I will also give you wise officers, as you had before. After that, you will be called “The Righteous City” and “The Faithful City”.’
27God will use justice to make Zion free. He will do what is right for those who return to serve him.
28But he will destroy people who turn against him, and those who continue to do wrong things. People who no longer trust the Lord will live no more.
29You will become ashamed because you trusted special oak trees to help you. You worshipped idols in your special gardens, and you will be ashamed because of that.
30You will be like an oak tree with leaves that have become dry. You will be like a garden that has no water.
31Even your most powerful men will disappear. They will be like a piece of string that burns in a fire. Their sins will be the fire that destroys them. They and their sins will burn together, and nobody will put out the fire.