“I have had enough of burnt offerings…Stop bringing your meaningless offerings…your incense is detestable to me…I cannot bear your evil assemblies…Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates, They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; I will not listen.” Isaiah 1:11-15 NIVGod seems to be contradicting himself in these verses because the very things he wants to stop, that he’s tired of, hates and finds detestable are exactly what he commanded his people, through Moses, to do. They thought they were being obedient and here was God, telling them that their obedience in these things was abhorrent to him. Why?
They were following the form of their religion without the substance. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the form but there was something lacking:
“Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” v. 17I just realized something as I sat here thinking about it. This connects very closely to yesterday’s post. They were doing all the man-to-God things but had neglected some crucial man-to-man things. Their religion was incomplete without connecting to others, especially the needy and oppressed.
What really struck me a night or two ago when I was reading, was that we too have forms of Christianity that we follow. We tithe and give money at church and to meaningful mission organizations. We gather for church once or twice a week, celebrate Christmas, Easter (and other holy days depending on where we live), we pray. We sing songs of praise to God, preach sermons and witness. It’s not much different from what the Jews were doing in Isaiah’s day. Is God as annoyed with us as he was with them? Is he really listening to us pray or has he hidden his eyes and ears from us? How do we know?
God, I want to follow you in all ways. I want to be a delight to you, not burdensome or evil. Keep me on your path in all ways and not deluded into thinking I’m doing what you want when I’m not.