"Holier Than Thou"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 220

Context: Isaiah, prophet of the Lord, delivers his vision of "Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Fotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." Reproving God's chosen people for their sins, he foretells the arrival of a messianic king, the destruction of the enemies of the Lord, and the eventual greatness of His children. Another prophet, often called "Second Isaiah," continues the prophecy during the Babylonian exile. He describes the coming of the Lord, the magnificence of the new day, and the path to salvation. The Lord, he says, has been with the people, but they have sinned against Him. Some even feel that they have purified themselves through unholy practices and wish to remain apart. The Lord says:

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I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;
Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments; which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

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