The Faithful City - Part 1

By Nate Hartman

September 12, 2020

“Hear me me, you heavens! Listen earth! ... 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.”

The book of Isaiah opens with God telling His people that their guilt is great; He calls them corrupt children, accuses them of turning their backs on Him. He asks them why they persist in harming themselves, resisting relationship with Him?

“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.”

They choose their own destruction. They have rejected the One who calls them into relationship and seeks to give them goodness. It seems foolish, but we are tempted every day to do the same.

“The multitudes of your sacrifices — what are they to me? I have more than enough of burnt offerings...When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my temple courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings...They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them...The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire.”

No one is there to quench the fire. This way is not worship; these efforts are not enough. These pursuits are a path to nowhere, to a most unholy communion with ourselves.

Our efforts to please and pacify and impress God are so often motives to make ourselves look and feel good; we cast our own visions of what holiness and responsibility and commitment and righteousness look like. We are tempted to pursue those with vigor and determination, yet God has asked not for that. He has asked for our hearts first, has offered relationship that will create a different focus for our lives — not one devised by us, but a true one.

“Your hands are full of blood. Wash and make yourselves clean...Come now, let us settle the matter...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.”
Israel was offered forgiveness if it would only submit to God’s way, be made white as snow. But the people chose to be a prostitute, murderers, dross, rebels, thieves, lovers of bribes. Enemies of God.

Lord God, spare us from the temptation to follow our own way. Purge away our dross. Remove our impurities. Let us be made the Faithful City. Let us accept your call into relationship and eat the good things of the land.

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