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Isaiah 1:10-17 (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. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah was called by God to let the nation of Israel, and especially her kings and the ruling class, know that, in spite of their many worship services, God was angry with them. Today’s reading is a portion of many that you can find in Isaiah and other prophets with this theme. God is so bold to say that because the leaders practice injustice, violently using their power to make themselves rich, while ignoring the needs of the power, they are just as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah (two cities God destroyed because of their wickedness). Because of this, God will stop listening to their prayers. But there is still time, if they ‘stop doing wrong, seek justice, and defend the powerless’. Read Amos 5:21-24 for another example of this kind of prophecy. Pray for God to help you see how your own abundance of material possessions and easy living is making it hard for you to have compassion for the poor. Then pray for the Spirit to renew your heart, so that you are bold to speak out for the rights of the needy.