Growing up in a Christian, mainline denomination church we focused so much on Jesus that we didn’t spend much time in the Old Testament. As an adult, I’ve come to see that Jesus is on every page of the Bible, not just the New Testament! And that’s what makes the Text so wonderful. It’s God’s overarching story of His plan for the redemption of His children. Us.
The story of Israel is both a New Testament story and an Old Testament story. It’s founding is detailed in the pages of Genesis through Malachi. And much of its history and future is found in the book of Isaiah. I had the chance to go to Israel twice in 2019. I heard our Jewish tour guides quote from Isaiah daily. So, I’ve decided to dive into the complex writings of the prophet for myself. What follows over the course of the next 66 days is my simple reading and pondering of what these words mean and how they might be applied in our context today.
Here’s my highlight from Chapter 1 if you’re so inclined to join me…
“Wash yourselves clean! I hate your filthy deeds. Stop doing wrong and learn to live right. See that justice is done. Defend widows and orphans and help the oppressed.” I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over. Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool. If you willingly obey me, the best crops in the land will be yours. Isaiah 1:16-19 (CEV).
“Wash yourselves clean…” The Jewish ritual bath is called a Mikveh and the ruins of these ancient sacraments are all over The Land. Unlike a Christian baptistry, a Mikveh has water flowing through the tank, usually by way of a natural spring. And they often have a wall separating the going down side from the coming up side. The idea is that one might enter the stream “unclean” or “filthy” and then, once the waters have washed over the person, they are free to ascend the steps on the clean side, washed a new.
It’s not just a physical cleansing, which it is. It’s also symbolic of being pure before God. The Old Testament people would go to the Mikveh every time they went to the synagogue or Temple. Some would go daily.
Isaiah reminds those of us who are Believers in Jesus, we have been washed clean by His death, His sacrifice on the Cross, and His resurrection — once and for all.
Our sins are washed away and we are made clean because Christ gave His own body as a gift to God. He did this once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 (NLV)
Our sins were scarlet red. But they are now whiter than snow!
But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. 1 John 1:7 (CEV).
Because of that sweet redemption, our response is to walk regularly “up the clean steps,” to be faithful in defending the oppressed, the widow, the orphan, those less fortunate.
What steps can we take today to remember that we are redeemed and that we have a responsibility to “live right” before God and man?
Oh, there’s a promise for us when we do. “The best crops in the land will be yours.” Our motivation for living right is to honor God, because it’s the right thing to do. An ancillary benefit is the gift of God’s provision and care. Because He loves us so.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.