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Clear Words

Clear Word – Ritual is not enough (Isaiah 1:12-14)

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 1-4

Today’s Reflection: Isaiah 1:12-14

12) When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?  13) 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.  14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.

In the writings of Moses, the Torah or the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible), God establishes the Sanctuary system within Israel.  This system included a tabernacle, or place of worship, priests, sacrifices, and feast days all intended to worship the God of Israel, to remind the people of what God had done for them and to remind Israel of their duty to God.

But this isn’t what happened.

Time and time again Israel turned from walking with God to worshiping idols, entering into marriages and alliances with pagan peoples and engaging in practices God had expressly forbidden (Judges 1:27-28; 2:1-4, 11-15).  In addition to doing what they weren’t supposed to do, they didn’t do what they were supposed to do.  They failed to take care of the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, and the stranger within their gates (Isaiah 10:1-2).  Then they worshiped God on Sabbaths and feast days.

Are we any different?

Many so-called Christians are difficult to distinguish from non-Christians during the week.  They eat the same, drink the same, enjoy the same entertainments, laugh at the same things, prioritize the same things, pay attention to the same people and ignore the same people.  Then they go to church on the weekend.

God is saying here to Israel (and indirectly to us) the point of religious ritual isn’t just keeping some rules and special occasions.  The purpose is a closer walk with God Himself.  If your rituals are not accomplishing this, then they are just vain offerings, abominations and wearying burdens that trample God’s courts.

Ritual isn’t enough.  God doesn’t want nominal Christians following their convenient interpretations and self-serving understanding of His statutes.  God wants whole-hearted Christians following Him.

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