God is fed up. Can I say that? God is frustrated. But is that accurate? God is weary of his people and their sins.
The people of Israel are wearing and living in the fruit of their rebellion, the desolation of their homes and the injuries to themselves and to the land.
Oh, what a sinful nation they are— loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot— covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds— without any soothing ointments or bandages. Your country lies in ruins, and your towns are burned. Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes and destroy everything they see.
Isaiah 1:4-7 – NLT
The people are continuing to show up at church with their offerings like nothing is wrong. It’s just part of the week. They spend one day, well a few hours-of one day with God, then go on in their rebellion.
Traditions go on. Sacrifices and celebration with no thought to what they mean or why they are performed. Sacrifices without a change in behavior or more importantly, a change of heart and mind. God hates that.
Hate is a strong word. When our kids were still little the word hate was a four letter word, well I guess it still is, but it was like a curse word. It wasn’t allowed in our house. Yet here we have God saying he hates something his people are doing. What he hates is that church just keeps on going. All the pomp and ceremony. But the people’s hearts are not in it.
“Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”
Isaiah 1:10-17 – NLT
There is hope for them then and there is hope for us now. God is a God of love and mercy and grace. He longs to forgive and restore.
‘“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!”’
Isaiah 1:18-20 – NLT
I am not one of the people referred to in this section of scripture and yet my heart and mind are susceptible to the same things. I am just as easily numbed to my own sin and will carry on with all my religious repetition to maintain the status quo.
There have been times when my body may be in church but my heart is far from God. God does not want my limp and lame participation in pomp. He wants my heart, my passion to be for him and for his cause. In a love relationship both parties want the heart of the other to desire, to long for intimacy and closeness. God, in his love for us, longs for us to love him, heart, soul mind and body.
Someone asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment. His answer?
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 – NLT
Our sins can be forgiven. Our worship can be from the heart and not from rote or ritual. Our relationship with God can be a passionate love of a God who first loved us. Our relationship with the rest of our needy broken world can be as a loving servant caring for the weak and needy.
Where are we today? Is confession and repentance needed? God longs for our hearts to be clean and to be completely his.