Old Testament Reading
Isaiah 4:2-6 speaks of a coming day when God’s judgment will give way to blessings for the people left in Jerusalem. These blessings are to visit the people after “the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem.” These sins are detailed in yesterday’s reading, Isaiah 3:1-4:1, where they deal with pride in terms of sexual promiscuity. In this passage, we find that the judgment of God here is accompanied by “a spirit of burning.” With this, the prophet is telling us that God’s intention is not just to punish the people but that God wants to purify them. These people will be “called holy” because of what God has done. They have been purified by fire and not saved because they were already pure. Their sanctification is a result of God’s activity. The final outcome of this purification is a blessed state for Jerusalem. This blessedness will be characterized by protection from the destructive forces of nature.
How do we most often think of judgment? Do we often think of judgment in terms of punishment only? Do we ever envision judgment in terms of purification?