Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.Isaiah 1:13-15
In the first few verses of this week’s passage we saw God calling out the behavior of the people of Jerusalem and Judea. Let us gain some understanding by answering three questions from these verses.
- What religious acts they were doing?
In short they were doing “empty rituals.” Let’s list the words that describe them:
• “new moons and sabbaths”
• “the calling of assemblies”
• “the solemn meeting”
• “new moons”
• “appointed feasts”
• “spread forth your hands”
• “make many prayers”
Instead of describing what exactly each of the expressions describe, it is enough to know that it describes their participation in the ceremonial laws prescribed in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
- How did God see their religious expressions?
God describes their participation as hypocritical and offensive to Him. Notice the terms describing his view of their religioucity.
• “vain”- empty and meaningless
• “abomination”- detestable
• “I cannot away with”
• “iniquity”- sin
• “weary to bear them”
• “hide my eyes”- He didn’t even want to look at what they were doing.
• “I will not hear”- He was not listening or considering the worship they were offering.
Why did he see them this way?
God gives the answer for his view of their worship when he said “your hands are full of blood.” God would not accept their worship because of their participation in a lifestyle characterized by sin and injustice. Their lifestyle outside of their religious practice disqualified their worship.
Scripturally prescribed practices are not the problem. We ought to assemble with our church family for corporate worship and study of the Word of God. We ought to baptize and partake of the Lord’s Supper. Hypocrisy and injustice are the problem. When we live a life that does not show faith in God through our obedience in every part of life it damages our attempts at genuine worship. Paul warned the Corinthian church about this when he spoke about the coming to the “Lord’s table.” Notice his instruction in 1 Corinthians:
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.1Co 11:27-29
We ought to worship God in the way that He has called us to worship Him. We must do it with a right heart and life that matches the worship that we offer.
• Are you offering God honorable worship?
• Is there any way you are participating in injustice?