“Wash, make yourselves clean, remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Rescue the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow.”
– Isaiah 1:16–17
Oh, God is talking to a people who worshiped him regularly through their offerings and their sacrifices. Picture it like they were in church every Sunday, yet they were missing the whole point. And so God speaks clearly, sternly to them, says, “Wash, make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your doings from my eyes. Cease to do evil.” They were walking in disobedience to him and using their worship as a coverup for that. Is it possible for you and I to go through the routine of worship and not pay attention to areas of disobedience in our lives? Absolutely, that’s possible for any one of us.
Isaiah 1:16–17 Leads Us to Seek Justice
God says stop it, learn to do good, and then he defines that. Seek justice, worship that doesn’t lead to doing justice is not true worship. Rescue the oppressed. Worship that doesn’t lead to rescuing the oppressed is not true worship. Defend the orphan. Worship that doesn’t lead to defending the orphan, the fatherless, is not true worship. Plead for the widow. Worship that doesn’t lead to pleading and working for the widow is not true worship. This is strong language from God that should drive all of us to our knees in prayer, for sure, and to repentance in any way that we are prone to worship God and not do any of these things that he commands us to do with exclamation points at the end.
God, we pray, based on Isaiah 1:16–17, well first and foremost, we confess. We cannot make ourselves clean. We need you to make us clean. And Jesus we praise you for dying on the cross, rising from the grave and sending your Holy Spirit in to our hearts. Cleansing us and filling us and so we pray that you would help us, by the power of Jesus in us, his blood-bought sacrifice for us, his indwelling spirit in us.
Help us to remove the evil of our doings before your eyes. Help us to cease to do evil. God, help us to walk in obedience to you, to repent of every evil thought, desire, word, action we are doing, have done. God, help us to do good. We pray that you would help us to do justice. Help us to rescue the oppressed. Help us to open our eyes to those who are unjustly treated and oppressed around us. And help us to work on their behalf.
Isaiah 1:16–17 Helps Us to Defend the Orphan
God, help us to defend the orphan, to care for, look after the fatherless. We pray that you would help us to plead for and work for the widow. God, there are so many ways we can do this right around us. We pray for faithful obedience to your word. Don’t let us. God, please don’t let us continue in hollow worship that neglects all these things.
And God we pray specifically today for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan who are oppressed and who are being unjustly treated. God, we pray for your provision for them and you would help us to do In this episode of Pray the Word on Isaiah 1:16–17, David Platt asks God to keep us from ignoring justice, oppression, and orphans among Afghan believers. for them, to work on their behalf to the extent which we are able. God, we pray for the offering that we took up at Secret Church, that people can still give to.
This Verse Leads Us to Pray
God, we pray that you would use those gifts that we have given and are giving to provide for our brother and sisters amidst persecution there, amidst oppression there. We pray for these microloans that we are working on to help strengthen and support financially our brothers and sisters there. God, please help us to work for justice, to work on behalf of the oppressed, especially our oppressed brothers and sisters. Oh God, please help us by your grace in us, by the power of your spirit in us to obey. Isaiah 1:16 and 17, to offer you true worship. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.