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  • Writer's pictureSt. John's Lutheran

WE Cannot Climb Up to God!

Isaiah 1:10-20 New International Version (NIV)

10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations-I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.[a]Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” 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. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Mon. November 30

The cross of Jesus is both a curse and a blessing. The cross is first a curse because it counts all of your good deeds as worthless rags. The prophet Isaiah compared God’s people, the Israelites to the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah, cities that God condemned and destroyed in Genesis 19. Every Israelite would have known the reference and been offended by this. The cross, too, offends because nothing we do will change God’s mind. We can never climb the ladder up to God. Everything we do is a “worthless rag.” (Isaiah 64:6). Yet, acceptance of that reality is our death where the curse becomes a blessing. As Pastor Tim Keller puts it: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The cross removes all our filthy attempts to save ourselves and leaves us clothed in the free, undeserved mercy of Jesus.

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