Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.
If you want to see God’s heart, read chapter one of Isaiah. The parental frustrations we feel have been felt by the God who created us. His heart cries for his children. He wants to give us the very best, but we make it difficult because of our rebellion.
To get past the language barriers some Bible translations cause, I’ve made up my own paraphrase, the LSV, or Laura’s Simplified Version. I read verse 2 like this: “I raised children, but they rebelled against me.”
I know how it is to plan good for my children and have to change plans because I can’t let the in-my-face disobedience go by without notice. I have to make my kids aware that they’re not going to be rewarded for bad behavior.
God taught us how to raise our kids. He taught us how to love with kindness and with discipline. He taught us how to recognize the empty pleadings of children who aren’t sorry they sinned, but are sorry they got caught.
Verses 13-15 speak to that. (LSV: Laura’s Simplified Version) Stop begging. Your prayers aren’t being answered because they’re not being heard.
Or in The Message, it reads like this. “Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings – meetings, meetings, meetings, – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way.”
But God doesn’t complain about our bad behavior without giving a way to improve our attitudes and actions. Check out verse 17: (NASB) “Learn to do good. Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”
God also tries to give us help with our decision-making. He wants us to know that a reward is available. There is something to work toward. Verse 18-19 sounds like this to me: (LSV) Think this through. Be reasonable. There is hope for the obedient.
Part of the reward for obeying God fully is being known as God’s obedient child. Verse 26 lists a couple of other names: (LSV) After I restore justice, you will be known as the faithful and righteous city.
Just like I love my kids enough to do what it takes to help them turn away from bad behavior, God is determined to help us get our heads on straight. He’ll discipline us if we need it. God shows us that his ways are better than ours, and he will help us become what he designed us to be. Verse 27 is filled with hope for us. (NIV) “Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.”