21 See how the faithful city
has become a harlot!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!
22 Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels,
companions of thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.
The Truth of Sin
Throughout Isaiah, you will find incredible metaphors and descriptions, some of the most beautiful found in all of Scripture. We will come in contact with more of them with time, but we first deal with a not-so-pretty metaphor, equating Israel with a whore. Although this is a harsh description, it is not an uncommon one – the entire book of Hosea uses a similar idea, where Hosea takes an unfaithful woman as his wife, an analogy of how Israel is unfaithful to God. It is also a common image that is used in apocalyptic literature like the book of Revelation.
A few items to think about: first, it is important to understand that God may hate a behavior without hating a person. Here we see prostitution as an obviously negative metaphor, but God doesn’t despise prostitutes – instead, it seems that Jesus welcomed them and helped them reform their lives. The same applies to Israel – although they are described in harsh terms, God’s love for them is not diminished. He despises their behavior, but still loves them as his people.
But at the same time, this description is not an exaggeration. I often feel this way about Scripture, that some passages must be an exaggeration: “That really didn’t happen, that’s just God trying to make a point, etc.” But let’s suppose for a moment that the language that is used here is NOT an exaggeration, but an accurate description, that when we follow other idols, and when we refuse to help those in need, it’s like we are whoring ourselves, and nothing less
Again, this doesn’t mean that God loves us any less…but it does mean that our behavior is repulsive and should be dealt with immediately. The truth of our sin isn’t pretty, but very fortunately, is balanced out by the faithful love of our Father.
1. What do you consider the most repulsive, disgusting sins that someone could commit? Why are these sins more disgusting than average?
2. What is the danger in placing a grade or value on types of sin, as worse or better?
3. The message of this passage is that our sin is terrible, but our God is wonderful – which of these do you have a harder time accepting?