A Tale of Two Cities

Rowan Hilsden | Jul 21, 2019

Scripture: Isaiah 1:1–2:4

Isaiah 1:1-2:4 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns[a][b] of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah.

Judah on Trial

Listen, heavens, and pay attention, earth,
for the Lord has spoken:
“I have raised children[c] and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s feeding trough,
but Israel does not know;
my people do not understand.”

Oh sinful nation,
people weighed down with iniquity,
brood of evildoers,
depraved children!
They have abandoned the Lord;
they have despised the Holy One of Israel;
they have turned their backs on him.

Why do you want more beatings?
Why do you keep on rebelling?
The whole head is hurt,
and the whole heart is sick.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
no spot is uninjured
wounds, welts, and festering sores
not cleansed, bandaged,
or soothed with oil.

Your land is desolate,
your cities burned down;
foreigners devour your fields
right in front of you—
a desolation, like a place demolished by foreigners.
Daughter Zion is abandoned
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a shack in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
If the Lord of Armies
had not left us a few survivors,
we would be like Sodom,
we would resemble Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “What are all your sacrifices to me?”
asks the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams
and the fat of well-fed cattle;
I have no desire for the blood of bulls,
lambs, or male goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who requires this from you—
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing useless offerings.
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons and Sabbaths,
and the calling of solemn assemblies
I cannot stand iniquity with a festival.
14 I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals.
They have become a burden to me;
I am tired of putting up with them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will refuse to look at you;
even if you offer countless prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

Purification of Jerusalem

16 “Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves.
Remove your evil deeds from my sight.
Stop doing evil.
17 Learn to do what is good.
Pursue justice.
Correct the oppressor.[d]
Defend the rights of the fatherless.
Plead the widow’s cause.

18 “Come, let us settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are crimson red,
they will be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land.
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21 The faithful town—
what an adulteress[e] she has become!
She was once full of justice.
Righteousness once dwelt in her,
but now, murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross to be discarded,
your beer[f] is diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels,
friends of thieves.
They all love graft
and chase after bribes.
They do not defend the rights of the fatherless,
and the widow’s case never comes before them.

24 Therefore the Lord God of Armies,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah, I will get even with my foes;
I will take revenge against my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you
and will burn away your dross completely;[g]
I will remove all your impurities.
26 I will restore your judges to what they were at first,[h]
and your advisers to what they were at the start.[i]
Afterward you will be called the Righteous City,
a Faithful Town.”

27 Zion will be redeemed by justice,
those who repent, by righteousness.
28 At the same time both rebels and sinners will be broken,
and those who abandon the Lord will perish.
29 Indeed, they[j] will be ashamed of the sacred trees
you desired,
and you will be embarrassed because of the garden shrines
you have chosen.
30 For you will become like an oak
whose leaves are withered,
and like a garden without water.
31 The strong one will become tinder,
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
with no one to extinguish the flames.

The City of Peace

The vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established
at the top of the mountains
and will be raised above the hills.
All nations will stream to it,
and many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us about his ways
so that we may walk in his paths.”
For instruction will go out of Zion
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will settle disputes among the nations
and provide arbitration for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plows
and their spears into pruning knives.
Nation will not take up the sword against nation,
and they will never again train for war.


  1. 1:1 Lit saw in the days
  2. 1:1 ca 792–686 BC
  3. 1:2 Or sons, also in v. 4
  4. 1:17 Or Aid the oppressed
  5. 1:21 Or prostitute
  6. 1:22 Or wine
  7. 1:25 Lit dross as with lye
  8. 1:26 Lit judges as at the first
  9. 1:26 Lit advisers as at the beginning
  10. 1:29 Some Hb mss; other Hb mss, Tg read you
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

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