Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
Observation - What does it say?
Take the story of Ezra, which we just finished, and rewind history to before God’s people returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem. Rewind to before their 70 years in captivity and to before they were conquered. They were living in the Promised Land, trying at least in part to honor God. At that time, God raised up the man Isaiah and appointed him as a prophet. In this first chapter of Isaiah, God speaks through Isaiah to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
Most often, the prophets would declare observations about the current behavior of the people and the consequences for those behaviors. And frequently they would call the people to respond to God and change their ways. Here, Isaiah is calling out the people of Judah and Jerusalem for being duplicitous. They are living double lives. They are offering sacrifices to God, they are observing the feasts and special days required by the law and they are praying. All good things, right? But, they are also doing evil things, their “hands are full of blood” and they have been doing wrong. And because of the evil lives they are living when they aren’t at God’s temple, God calls their offerings meaningless, their incense detestable and their assemblies worthless.
Understanding - What does it mean?
God desires to be honored all the time. When we only honor him part-time, it causes our offerings to be meaningless.
The people of Judah and Jerusalem were trying to honor God part-time and acting wickedly the rest of the time. God desires to be honored all the time, in every area of our lives. Checking off the box of coming to church and offering our worship to God on Sunday doesn’t give us license to do what we want the rest of the week. We can’t compartmentalize our relationship with God. We can’t give God an hour in the morning and expect that we can take the other 23 hours of the day to do whatever we want. God desires to be involved in every aspect and every area of our lives. At work he want’s us to seek to honor him, when we come home he want’s us to be looking to honor him, when we’re with friends wants to be honored. Our offerings of worship on Sunday mornings, singing about our love for God and desire to do his will, become mere lip service, meaningless, detestable and worthless to God.
Seek to honor God all the time!
God, forgive us for the ways we’ve compartmentalized our relationship with you. Forgive us for the times our words of commitment to you aren't followed by righteous actions. Reveal to us the areas of our lives that we’ve excluded you and help us to live lives of worship to you in all that we say and do. Amen.