Sunday, May 6, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTER 1: Wholehearted Love and Obedience

Chapter 1
-       Verse 1: Indication that these visions were given to Isaiah during the time of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, which dates the period from 792 to 686 BC.
-       Verse 3: Isaiah begins by accusing Israel, of which Judah is the southern Kingdom, of her rebellious nature and how she has turned from God. He likens Judah to two animals known for their stubbornness, the donkey and the ox.
-       Verse 4: Isaiah refers to God as, “The Holy One of Israel.” This reference occurs 26 times in the book of Isaiah, and is used to show God’s righteousness and purity, and transcendence.
-       Verse 11-13: In a vision from God Isaiah rants about how God is displeased with Judah’s worship practices.
o   God get’s no pleasure from the sacrificial blood of animals.
o   He has no desire for us to worship him with ‘ceremony.’
o   He doesn’t want our meaningless gifts.
§  God desires wholehearted love and obedience, and the worship that such a commitment would produce from the heart.
-       Verse 15: Because of Judah’s disobedience and rebellion, God declares that He will not look nor listen when they pray.
-       Verse 18: God makes it clear that there is a way to be cleansed of sin, and become right again with God, but it is only through God that it can happen.
o   “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow.”
-       Verses 21-23: Isaiah uses harsh words to describe Israel’s current condition, comparing them to prostitutes, murderers, slags, watered down wine, companions of thieves, and rebels.
-       Verse 29: Isaiah specifically refers to how Israel engaged in pagan fertility rituals in groves of oak trees.
-       Verse 31: Even the strongest among you will be destroyed. Burned like a field of wheat.

One thing that I feel that God has really laid on my heart as I've grown in my relationship with Him is that my relationship with Him is personal. It is unique. As far as I know, I am the only me God created, and because I am different than every other person in this world my relationship with God is going to be a little bit different than any one else's. Whether it be how I talk and communicate with God, how He communicates with me, how I like to spend time with Him, whatever aspect it may be, it is a unique relationship between me and My Heavenly Father. So, if my relationship with Him is unique, and it is personal between Him and I, why would I try to worship Him and spend time with Him and relate with Him through traditions and religious/ritualistic acts that I'm supposed to do because it is expected of me because I am a Christian or because I attend a certain church or am from a certain country and of a certain cultural background.  I'm going to quote here from Isaiah Chapter 1, verse 11-15: "What makes you think I want all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship Me who asked you to parade through My courts with all you ceremony? Stop bringing Me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts Me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting - they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to Me, I cannot stand them! When you lift your hands up in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer up many prayers, I will not listen..." I don't know if that cuts through to you like it does to me, but that really speaks volumes to me. I've been a lot of different places and seen God from a lot of different prespectives. I've seen people worship God by being completely still and silent and reverent before Him. I've seen people jump and scream and shout and yell until they couldn't stand up anymore. One is no better than the other, neither is right or wrong. True worship of God isn't standing up and singing a song in church on sunday. It's not Chris Tomlin or Hillsong or Kirk Franklin. True worship is wholehearted love and obedience to God, and portraying that in the way that you best relate to your Heavenly Father. God doesn't desire your rituals, your religion, your offerings, he desires your heart. He desires wholehearted love and obedience. Don't just do something to do it. Worship God in the way that you best know how and the way that is personal between you and God. Otherwise it is meaningless. 

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