Imagine this: you go to a worship service, and most of the congregation are lifting their hands in praise. But you notice something strange: everyone singing has blood on their hands, and these aren’t farmers. This unlikely scene would strike fear into anyone’s heart. In Isaiah 59:3 tells us that Israel as a nation of worshiping people has blood on their hands while they make offerings and sacrifices. This blood is not from the sacrifices. Rather, this blood represents their business practices that destroy (Isaiah 59:5), robbing the innocent of their rights and acquitting the guilty (Isaiah 59:4), and violent acts (Isaiah 59:6).
God chastises Israel for crying out in frustration for God’s lack of deliverance from their evil foes while Israel have become evil themselves (Isaiah 59:1-2). God’s justice isn’t just about rewarding moral rights and punishing moral wrongs, but rather about making and pursuing a just society. God’s justice rectifies wrongs, and he intends for His people to be instruments of such justice. Instead they prefer shallow worship, fasting, and prayers while they mistreat their brothers and sisters whom God loves.
Isaiah began with a call to focus on justice over fasting. As we wind down this marvelous book, let’s remember that pursuing justice is part of being God’s people, lest we find our hands stained with blood.