your country lies desolate;
    your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
    foreigners devour your land;
    it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.

and the daughter of Zion is left
    like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
    like a besieged city.

if the Lord of hosts
    had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like sodom,
    and become like gomorrah.

[isaiah 1:7-9]


we have two choices,:


rebellion in our flesh-

or repentance by the Spirit, out of our awe in a holy Father, extended to us by his Son:


Jesus made very similar statements to isaiah’s warnings:


then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.  “woe to you, chorazin! woe to you, bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in tyre and sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. but i tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for tyre and sidon than for you. and you, capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? you will be brought down to hades. for if the mighty works done in you had been done in sodom, it would have remained until this day. but i tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of sodom than for you.” [matthew 11:20-23]


this warning seems stern, but this is the choice we make as we live out our lives:


for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. for to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. [romans 8:5-6]


will we choose presence and awe, life and peace, or will we choose rejection and rebellion, flesh and death?


above, when Jesus pronounces his woes, we can feel like it can all seem overly harsh–but look at the reference–you may know a different passage from matthew 11, in fact, you may have it memorized–it very closely follows the ‘woes’, and in fact, is offered as the solution for those who reject Jesus:


come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest. take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for i am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [matthew 11:28-30]


this is how live according to the Spirit, and embrace life and peace. let us, like isaiah and Jesus, warn one another, and ourselves of the judgment to come to those who do not stand in awe of the Lord–in that warning, let us also point to and heed Jesus’ advice–that the only place we can go to avoid that judgment is into his presence and into his rest.