Verse of the Day Devotion: Isaiah 1:17
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17
Isaiah is speaking to Judah about its wickedness. They are not living as they ought. “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me.” Isaiah 1:2. Judah has revolted against God. They are not following His ways but their own. In fact, the Lord speaking through Isaiah declares that they do not even know Him. “An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.” Isaiah 1:3. He compares His people to an ox and a donkey and basically says they know more than Judah, for at least they know who their master is. He continues with, “Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.” Isaiah 1:4.
Based on verses 2-4, Judah has abandoned God, choosing to walk in their own way and not God’s way. How sad that God’s people in the time of this writing, having seen all that God has done for them, would walk away from Him when, in their eyes, did not appear to believe they needed Him.
However, God has not rejected them. He still loves them and has a purpose for them. He now tells them what they must do. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,” Isaiah 1:16. This verse, just prior to our focus verse, tells them what they must do because of their rejection of His way. First, they must wash themselves, making themselves clean. He is telling them to put away their sins, stop committing them anymore. Sin is represented in the scriptures as defiling or polluting the soul, making it filthy. This idea is alluded to by King David when he wrote, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1-2 Sin is like dirt that makes us unclean, and we must wash this filth from us.
God then goes on to say through Isaiah, remove this sin from my sight. Since He sees everything, and nothing can be hidden from Him, He is basically saying to cease from doing evil. Stop it altogether. Do not just wash yourselves, but do not get dirty again.
Now, this takes us to the focus verse. He says to learn to do good. They were obviously ignorant of what was good, so God was telling them to study to see what is good. These include, but are not limited to, seeking justice. This is to be done between 2 or more people when a wrong is done, without respect of persons. They are to reprove those who are ruthless, those who take advantage of others or are cruel and heartless to others. They must not allow them to continue in their evil ways but correct them and get them to stop. They are to defend the orphans and plead for the widow. Both of these groups had no one to plead their case back in this time. They were ignored and left to fend for themselves.
Today, we have similar situations. Our county is moving toward atheism and rapidly at that. Many in this country are defying God and living as they please. And we, or those who come back must learn what it truly means to do good. We must cleanse ourselves from sin and stop doing whatever evil we find ourselves doing. We must protect those who need protecting and help those who need help. We must see other more highly than we see ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We must honor God in all we do. Let us learn what is the right thing in everything and focus on doing them. That is what He calls us to.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.