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Isaiah 1:16-17

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.


To wash, as used here, is to wash oneself, to bathe or lave, it differs from washing one’s clothes. So it has to do with the person being clean and not just the clothes they are wearing.

The LORD is rather stern with His people here and tells them earlier in the chapter that I am tired of your feasts, your worship and all these great prayers you are making. In so many words, you stick your hands up in my face in worship and they are full of blood. What an accusation against God’s people. It is hard for me to imagine that the LORD would tell me, I don’t want your worship because when you lift your hands to me I see blood.

The LORD then tells them where the innocent blood in their hands came from. God’s people were oppressing others and they were ignoring the fatherless, orphans, and the widows. The oppressed, the orphans and the widows do not have anything to offer us. When we help them they will still be dependent upon us afterwards. They can not reward us for coming to their rescue.

In Luke 14:13-14 the Bible says, “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Jesus said very clearly in Matthew 25:40 that when you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.

It’s not so much an issue for us to help someone when we feel like we will be recognized or rewarded in some fashion for doing so but it becomes an entirely different matter if it’s going to cost us time, effort or resources and nobody is ever going to know how good we are. We make much public display of having on clean clothes and looking right and yet our hands are dirty and full of blood before the LORD because our actions don’t match our words.

Dear Jesus please forgive us and help us to put away the evil of our doings and learn to do well instead.