You Wouldn’t Know It…


Staying in Isaiah Chapter 1 here. The thing that stands out about this passage is that like so much Jesus’ teaching, this warning is directed at people who were already in church. They were a rebellious people, but they were also very religious people.


If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! All God needs is a few survivors, a remnant, to rebuild His people from. This warning probably shocked those who heard it. After all, these were religious people. They thought they were good with God. To be told that except a tiny few left over they would have been wiped away like Sodom and Gomorrah was probably an attack on their deep sensibilities.



 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
These people had it all together in their observances, their sacrifices, their offerings, their feasts and their assemblies. But Yahweh cannot stand to watch anymore. They are bringing their sacrifices, their offerings, everything required of them, but it is being rejected by the God who demanded it in the first place. Why??
Because God (Yahweh) doesn’t want sacrifices without inward obedience. He wants our obedience – “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭15:22‬ ‭ESV‬‬. He wants our broken heart – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” ‭Psalms‬ ‭51:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬. He wants our walk to match our talk. – “”With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah‬ ‭6:6-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This is what the people of Judah were missing. They had all the form, all the sacrifice, all the rituals. But their worship was hypocritical, it was all for show. They were still living in sin. They still weren’t loving their neighbors. They weren’t a just society.



When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Seek justice. Correct oppression. Bring Justice to the fatherless. Judgment coming on a person does not have to be negative. If the legal system is applied to the weak just as it is the powerful, that is our goal. When it is applied to you as a weak person, it can be very good news. A community has an obligation before God to see this happen. When we don’t, there is blood on our hands, our prayers will not be heard.


We are like these religious people in Isaiah in our own day and time. There is one Protestant church for every 550 adults in America. (This number does not even include the Catholic Church). We have lots of “religion”. But you wouldn’t know it to see our crime rate. You wouldn’t know it by our divorce rate. You wouldn’t know it by our “entertainment”. You wouldn’t know it by our courtrooms or our prisons. You wouldn’t know it by the hungry and the homeless on the street everyday.
We are called to carry the Gospel to all people and all ends of the earth, yet 95% of the average church’s budget is spent within that church’s walls. Only 5% goes to carrying the Gospel off church property to those who need to hear it. 30% of the average church’s budget goes to buildings and maintenance. It would seem like we are more about the appearance of loving God than getting out there loving God and His people.



“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
One of our favorite verses in the bible. There is an offer of a pardon from our guilt. An offer of forgiveness. Actually, this offer is more like a command, “Thou shall clean up your act and get it together. And your sins will be forgiven.” If you are willing and obedient.  
Isaiah told the people to obey His command to Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Wash the blood off your hands. In other words, repent of your sins and be forgiven. What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord.

“If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons 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, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭1:9-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/isa.1.9-20.esv

John Lewis

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