Image

prayer for discernment

prayer for discernment

Image

love became flesh

love became flesh

Image

prayer at the crossroads

prayer at the crossroads

Image

crossroads

crossroads

Image

a prayer as we face judgement

A Prayer As We Face Judgement - 1

who asked for that?

who asked for that

Who Asked for that?

Isaiah 1:7-15a

7 Your country is deserted, your cities have been burned up with fire; your land: aliens are devouring it in your presence, and it is desolate, as if devastated by foreigners.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a hut in a vineyard, like a shelter in a cucumber field, like a city that is besieged.
9 If Yahveh of armies had not left us survivor, we would have been as few as Sodom, we would have become like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of Yahveh, rulers of Sodom! Listen, the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah!
11 What is that heap of your sacrifices to me? says Yahveh. I have had enough burnt offerings of rams and fat, fattened animals and I do not enjoy blood of bulls and ram-lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me, who asked for this from your hand: you trampling my courts?
13 You must not keep bringing useless offerings, incense—which stinks to me; each new moon and Sabbath, each calling of a convocation– I cannot endure iniquity when you assemble.
14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become to me like a burden I am not able to bear.
15 And when you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many a prayer, I am not listening. (Isa. 1:7-15a JDV)

Isaiah had just revealed to Judah that they were not as healthy as they thought they were. In the next few verses ISAIAH DESCRIBES THE CONDITION OF JUDAH in his time (7-10).

Slide3

a deserted country
burned cities
land devoured and desolate
left like a guard hut after harvest
like a besieged city
almost like Sodom & Gomorrah

This is a challenge from God for us to evaluate our true condition. We must stop deceiving ourselves by claiming normalcy. We need to see beyond the veneer, past the facade.

Secondly, ISAIAH CONDEMNS THE ORGANISED RELIGION OF JUDAH in his time (11-14)

Slide5He calls this religious people rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah, and indicates that their religious practices are negatives, rather than positives.

He has had enough offerings
He does not enjoy the blood
He calls it trampling his courts
He calls the offering useless
He says the incense stinks
He says the assemblies are for iniquity
He hates the festivals because they burden him

This is a challenge from God for us to evaluate what wev are doing and why we are doing it. We must stop pretending that if we just do the right thing, that our condition will somehow get better. We need to see beyond what we do.

I once visited a city and did a seminar there. I heard someone describe that city a being full of SEMINARians. In other words, all the church people did was go to seminars. They believed that the key to their success was doing the right thing more often than others. That is not how success is measured in the kingdom.

Thirdly, ISAIAH REVEALS WHAT GOD IS DOING as a result of Judah’s current approach to him through their organised religion (15a).
Slide7

  • He is hiding his eyes
  • He is not listening to their prayersThis is a challenge from God for us to stop doing business as usual. If we think God only responds to our prayers and worship, what happens when we discover that God is no longer listening to our prayers and watching our worship?

    There is nothing wrong with prayer and nothing wrong with worship. But both of these can become worse than useless when coming from the heart of the rebellious and unrepentant. So, Isaiah goes on to reveal the way for Judah to get back on God’s good side. We will explore this next section more in the next sermon in this series. But let me summarise verses 15b-17 here.

    15b Your hands are full of blood.
    16 Wash up! Make yourselves clean! Remove the evil of your actions from before my eyes! Stop doing evil!

    = REPENT

    To repent is to seek God’s cleansing by grace and resolve to stop rebelling against God’s moral law.

    17 Learn to do good! Seek justice! Rescue an oppressed one! Defend an orphan! Plead for a widow!

    = REFORM

    To reform is not to add more rituals to your worship, but to focus on meeting the needs of those around you, and so begin to act like your Father in heaven.

    Without true repentance and reformation, all the religion and prayers and worship in the world is worse than useless.

How is your health?

Slide1

This next series of sermons will focus on some questions we encounter when reading Isaiah chapter 1. The questions are designed to make us a bit uncomfortable, because they expose our reluctance to examine ourselves.
Isaiah 1:1-6

1 A vision from Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw with reference to Judah and Jerusalem during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Listen, sky, and discern, land, because Yahveh has spoken: I reared children and I brought them up, but they rebelled against me.3 An ox knows its owner and a donkey the trough of its master. Israel does not know; my people do not understand. 4 Wow, sinful nation, a people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly. They have forsaken Yahveh; they have despised the holy one of Israel. They are estranged and perverted. 5 Why do you want to be beaten again? You continue rebelling. All of your head is sick, and all of your heart is weak.    6 From the sole of the foot and up to your head there is nothing healthy; your bruise and sore and bleeding wound has not been cleansed, and they have not been bound up and not treated with healing oil. (Isa. 1:1-6 JDV)

Slide2

Today’s question is “How is your health?” Are you really as spiritually healthy as you think you are?

Slide3

First Symptom: spiritual dementia (2-3)

2 Listen, sky, and discern, land, for Yahveh has spoken: I reared children and I brought them up, but they rebelled against me.
3 An ox knows its owner and a donkey the trough of its master. Israel does not know; my people do not understand.

Isaiah pictures Judah as having suffered a horrible debilitating disease. He describes the disease as a kind of spiritual dementia, because not only does it cause much physical suffering, it has also caused Judah to forget who she is, where she came from, who she belongs to. Consequentially, she is not aware of the relationship she has with Yahveh, a relationship which would offer her relief, treatment and recovery. The disease goes untreated, and is just getting worse.

Slide4

Second Symptom: psychological aberrations (4)

4 Wow, sinful nation, a people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly. They have forsaken Yahveh; they have despised the holy one of Israel. They are estranged and perverted.

Yet, if you had asked the average citizen of Judah in Isaiah’s time how his spiritual health is, he would say he is healthy and normal. The first thing to go in them was their since of shame over their own sinfulness. Sin was something that the outsiders did. They saw themselves as a holy island in a sea of corruption. They were the holy nation. But look at how Isaiah described them.

Nowadays, our society is in denial, refusing to categorise anyone as abnormal. In fact, this generation defends anyone who insists he or she be treated just like everyone else, no matter how he or she acts. It is as if the category of psychological deviancy no longer exists. We are like the world that was described in the book of Judges, where everyone does what is right in his own eyes. The result of that kind of aberant behaviour in Judges, and here in Isaiah — is bondage.

Slide5

Third symptom: refusal of treatment (5-6)

5 Why do you want to be beaten again? You continue rebelling. All of your head is sick, and all of your heart is weak.
6 From the sole of the foot and up to your head there is nothing healthy; your bruise and sore and bleeding wound has not been cleansed, and they have not been bound up and not treated with healing oil.

So Isaiah puts his generation onto the scanner, and the results reveal a society that is totally sick, which has refused any treatment. Denying that there is anything wrong, the whole nation — sick in the head, sick in the heart, sick from the foot up to the head — continues to walk around pretending that everything is ok.

Such was the case with the scribes and Pharisees during Jesus’ day.

“When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he is eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they were saying to his disciples, “Why is he eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” So after hearing this, Jesus says to them, “It is not the ones who have strength who need a doctor, but the ones who are having something wrong with them; I did not come to call upright ones, but sinful ones.” (Mk. 2:16-17 JDV)

Such is the case with the world today as well. We deny that there is something wrong, and we have forgotten that there is a Great Physician who is ready to treat us. We go from bad to worse, refusing to acknowledge that God is ready to undo the damage.

So, here we are, the church of Christ, a hospital for the broken ones, a clinic for those who recognise that there is something wrong with us.

LORD, here we are, checking in to your hospital. Forgive us for denying that we have a health problem, for forgetting that you are the answer to our debilitating disease.