Who Asked for that?
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).
a deserted country
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)
He 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).
- 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!
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!
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.