Read Isaiah 1:1-20
I see three questions here and a great invitation in verses 18-20.
(1) Where is your worship? Verses 1-4: The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Israel had neglected their relationship with God.
(2) Israel was immune to chastening. Are you? Verses 5-9: Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. God said he had corrected them, but they didn’t respond. In fact, they rebelled more. I’ve never liked a spanking even though I got many growing up. If our parents corrected us out of love, it helped us. God, as our Father, does the same thing.
(3) What kind of worship do you offer the Lord? Verses 10-15: Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. I want to leave tonight saying I worshiped the Lord. It’s not just singing a song, saying a prayer, and going through the motions. Israel was going through the motions of worship, but was not worshiping.
I have some things to share on this. (1) Back in verse 2 God said he had nourished them, but they had rebelled. Like Israel, we don’t have to obey God. We can say yes or no. We can obey or rebel. Israel chose to rebel. Rebellion can take several forms. In I Samuel 15 rebellion came in the form of incomplete obedience. God told Saul to destroy everything, but he spared the best of the animals and did not kill the king. He said he had done what God said. Samuel said to him What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? This was incomplete obedience. Direct defiance is also rebellion. Adam was told not to eat of just one tree; this was a clear command. Yet he ate it. You know the Bible says not to be unequally yoked together. Yet a Christian convinces him/herself that they and change the other person after marriage. Most times it doesn’t happen. This is unequally yoked. Hesitating to obey is wrong. Do it! Don’t wait! Tithing is an example. God tells us to. Do it. If God wants you to sing. Do it. When you get saved, you are no longer your own. Before salvation we were mastered by the devil. Now Jesus is our Master. First Corinthians 6:19 says What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? What price? The blood of Jesus Christ. Israel had forsaken the Lord, provoked God, gone away backwards. They got away from God. We can do the same thing today. Remember your courtship with your spouse. It was wonderful. When getting ready to get married, divorce is the farthest thing from your mind. Soon you’re openly at odds and soon divorce court is on the way. If you let sin keep on, you will get cold and away from God. Just remember the courtship days.
(2) In verses 5-9 we see they were immune to chastening. Most of your children have left the nest, but do you feel you did all your could with them. Yes? That’s what I’m saying. God asked why he should do more. He said they kept going farther away in rebellion. Kids are like that, and so are we. The only thing left was judgment. It came in the form of captivity. When God talks to us, take care of it. If we don’t respond, the punishment gets more severe. Israel didn’t listen, so God allowed captivity. How many times does God have to whip us to get our attention? Do we get immune? Stay in sin, and you’ll get comfortable with it. You’ll get hard to reach.
(3) What kind of worship do you offer God? We will say “that was a good sermon, the crowd was good, the singing good, the offering was good.” Did we have a good service? God may not be pleased. What is essential for worship? (a) It has to be offered by his people. (b) It has to be offered with reverence. (c) It has to be an expression of love. Are songs an example of love for God or just good harmony? Sing the right songs. Pray through our mediator Jesus Christ. He’s our go-between–between us and God. Believe the Bible is inherent and inspired by God. How much of our worship actually reaches the ears of God? Is he speaking to us?
Then we see the great invitation in verses 18-20: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Rebellion was described and measures taken. But Jesus said let’s discuss this. You don’t have anything to bargain God with. He wanted to cleanse them. If we live right, do right, walk right then God will bless. If we refuse we’ll be devoured. Still comes the message. We won’t be forced to do what God wants. We have a free will. Adam made the wrong choice. Blame him for all that’s going on since then. That’s how sin entered the world, but you must blame yourself for your own sin. Elijah asked the people on Mount Carmel how long they were going to halt between two opinions. He said choose you this day whom ye will serve. Make up your mind to serve God. Men, you’re responsible for your family. Choose the quality of the Christian life. Choose between good, not evil. God help us make right decisions.
So, how’s your worship?