The Lord is speaking to his adulterous and rebellious people here. He brought them up, but they have rebelled against him. Although they claim to know him, they don’t really understand him. They are weighed down with sin, and they deal corruptly. They have forsaken the Lord, and they have despised him, their holy God. They are utterly estranged from him.
They make sacrifices to him, but their sacrifices are meaningless to the Lord because they do not couple them with obedience, with repentance, and with submission to him as Lord of their lives. Their sacrifices are an abomination to him because they come from lip service only, and not from hearts surrendered to him. Their religion is in form and ritual only, not in truth.
Isaiah 1:12-14 ESV
“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.”
The Lord is not interested in our “church” attendance, our “good deeds” that we choose to do for him, and our religious rituals and performances which we’re hoping will be acceptable to him. He is not impressed by all the things we do in the flesh to “draw in large crowds of people” to our fleshly gatherings, either.
He is not impressed by “church rolls,” or by numbers of purported salvations and baptisms listed on monthly or yearly denominational reports. And he does not take pleasure in “worship services” that are geared toward entertaining the world and appealing to human flesh.
He is not enthralled with our charming, funny, and entertaining pastors, too, who are able to draw in large crowds of people with their jokes, their acting, and their stage productions and props. He doesn’t care about how good or how cool the band and the “praise” singers sound, either.
In fact, he can’t endure all of these superficial forms of worship. They are an abomination to him. He hates false and meaningless religious rituals which are for the glory of man, and not for the glory of God. He is weary of bearing them. He wants the doors shut to such fleshly congregations as these.
Isaiah 1:15-17 ESV
“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;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.”
The Lord is not going to listen to shallow selfish prayers. He is not going to listen to those who ignore him and his commands, and who dilute his gospel message by reducing faith in him to a mere profession of Christ, and who change worship of him to stage productions to entertain the masses.
So, his counsel to his wayward people, who have turned his church into a marketplace to be marketed to the world like any other business, is to repent. His counsel to his adulterous church who is more interested in pleasing the world than they are with pleasing God is to repent.
And repentance is not merely having a change of mind. Biblically speaking, it is making a U-turn with your life, i.e., it is turning around and going the opposite direction as you had been going. It is forsaking your sins and turning to follow our Lord in obedience to his ways.
So, this would mean leaving the market-driven church and all of its trappings and worldliness and returning to the Lord in faith, and uniting with him in love and in purpose, and uniting with other likeminded believers in Jesus who are also walking according to his ways.
Isaiah 1:18-20 ESV
“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.”
The Lord does not want to cast you aside. He doesn’t get pleasure in punishing you or in sending people to hell. But he is God. He is just, he is pure, he is righteous, and he is holy. Yes, he is loving and kind. He is forgiving. But he is also a God of wrath and divine judgment.
So, don’t trifle with God! He is not to be played with. He is not your playmate. And he is not a genie in the sky there to grant your every selfish desire, either. Yes, we should bring our requests to him in prayer, but we need to be humble and thankful and appreciative and be honoring of God.
Jesus died on that cross not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died to deliver us from addiction to sin, not so we can go on living in sin without guilt or punishment.
If you are willing and obedient, and you die with him to sin and you now walk with him according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, then you will inherit eternal life with God. But if you refuse and you rebel, and you continue walking in sin, you won’t have eternal life with God but you will die in your sins and you will spend eternity in eternal punishment.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15, 21; Gal 5:16-24; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 2:24-25; 1 Jn 5:3]
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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