Condemnation of False Worship

“To accept people is to be for them. It is to recognize that it is a very good thing that these people are alive, and to long for the best for them. It does not, of course mean to approve of everything they do. It means to continue to want what is best for their souls no mat … More

Condemnation

God is pictured figuratively as sitting on a throne (v. 1) with the earth as His footstool (Acts 7:49). Because of His majesty no one can build a house for Him to dwell in (1 Kings 8:27). He is the Creator (v. 2). Yet what He values above His inanimate Creation are people who are humble and contrite (Isa. 57:15) and who follow His word. In one way or another, this has been Isaiah’s message throughout this book. God wants His people to follow the truth He has revealed to them. For Israel that was primarily the Mosaic Covenant. Pointing the people back to the Word of God, Isaiah was indicating that they needed to obey it if they were to enjoy His blessings.

The strange comparisons indicate that the people’s religious sacrifices and offerings were only external ritual (vv. 3-6). In their hearts the people were murderers, perverts of God’s dietary laws (Lev. 11:7), and idolaters. In reality they were going their own ways (Isa. 53:6) rather than the Lord’s way. Therefore, harsh judgment would come. People in Israel who professed to know the Lord but who actually hated and discriminated against God’s people would be shamed by His discipline when the temple would be destroyed by the Babylonians.

Israel’s return to the land will be so remarkably quick that it will be like a woman giving birth to a son before or as soon as she has any labor ... pains (vv. 7-9)!  God does not start something and leave it unfinished. As surely as a woman’s womb opens, not closes, for delivery, so God will do for Jerusalem what He has set out to do. This then is cause for rejoicing.

Application

Lord, help me to not be so quick to condemn but to complement people for good qualities.

Isaiah 66:1-9 (English Standard Version)

Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. "He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight." Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: "Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy'; but it is they who shall be put to shame. "The sound of an uproar from the city! A sound from the temple! The sound of the LORD, rendering recompense to his enemies! "Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?" says the LORD; "shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?" says your God.

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