Isaiah- Session 1- 1:10-20

Session 1- Right Worship

Isaiah 1:10-20

Lesson Resources:

Subject:  Worship

Central Theme:  Offering Right Worship

Objective Sentence:  We can offer right worship to God by adopting three perspectives found in these verses.

Keyword:

Perspective #1- Empty Worship. V.10-15

Perspective #2- Right Worship. V.16-17

Perspective #3- Results of Worship. V.18-20

 

Introduction:

Connection:

  • When we were younger my brother and I would exchange gifts at Christmas.
  • There were like 2 or 3 Christmas seasons in a row where I would by my brother a cd.
  • Now that may not sound strange to you, but you need to know something about my brother. He doesn’t voluntarily listen to music.  It’s not his thing.
    • There were times in college where kids in the youth group would unscrew his antennae off of his jeep and take it and he wouldn’t notice for months because he never turned on his radio.
  • And it isn’t like I didn’t know this fact about him.
  • So why did I buy him the cd’s?
  • Because I love music.
  • I saw the money I was spending on him and the tradition of gift giving at Christmas as an opportunity to get something I wanted.

Tension:

  • This is how some people view their worship to God. They think of religious tradition and practice as something to gain what they want.
  • When it comes to worship, the opinion of the object of the worship is what matters.
  • We must rightly worship God. The good news is that we can offer God right worship.

We can offer right worship to God by adopting three perspectives found in these verses.

Perspective #1- Empty Worship. V.10-15.

 (10)  Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. Isaiah 1:10

  • Notice the two commands that God gives in this verse:  “hear” and “give here”.  The idea of these words were not just to audibly take it in.  The idea was to listen and obey.
  • Also notice the two audiences: “rulers of Sodom” and “people of Gomorrah”.  When you read the context here, God is speaking (1:2) to the nation of Judah and Jerusalem specifically (1:1).  He is not talking to the actual cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Those cities were known to be very sinful cities.

 (13)  But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.  Genesis 13:13

  • These were the cities who faced the fire and brimstone of God’s wrath because of their wickedness.

  (24)  Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;  (25)  And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.  Genesis 19:24-25

  • God was calling Jerusalem and Judah the future objects of his wrath.  He was calling them wicked.  By calling them to listen to His Word and His Law he was being merciful.  He was warning them of the status of their behavior.
  • He questions them directly in the next verses.

(11)  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.  (12)  When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?  Isaiah 1:11-12

  • We can understand what is going on these verses by asking a series of 4 questions.

1.  Who is being questioned?

  • If you examine the previous verses you find that the people of Jerusalem and Judea are in view.
  • God is the one questioning them through His prophet Isaiah.
  • He had referred to them as Sodom and Gomorrah in verse 10.
  • He had told them to listen and obey.

2. What were they doing?

  • While they were living in a way that made God call them Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • They were still practicing religious ritual.  They were making offerings to God.
  • What were they offering.?
  • The verses reference sacrifices, burnt offerings, and the “fat of fed beasts”.
  • These were all in keeping with the ceremonial law that God prescribed in the Torah.
  • The problem was not with their ritual in and of itself.  In that part they were somewhat obedient.
  • The problem was that they were living as if God was ok with immorality and then performing these rituals out of tradition, habit, or some other motivation.

 

3.  What did God ask?

  • God asks them two questions that revealed the emptiness of their rituals.
  • He said, “to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me?”.
    • The right answer would have been to worship the Lord and atone for their sins.
  • The other question he asked was “who has required this at your hand?”.
    • The right answer would have been, “You, God!”
    • But the problem was that they were doing this without being worried about worship.
    • They obviously did not care about their own sins.
    • They were not doing these offerings to please God.
    • They were doing them without the proper heart and motivation for doing them.
    • God was not the object of their worship, nor the audience to which they focused in doing these rituals.

4. What was God’s response?

  • Look at God’s response.

” 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.”

  • It is as if God was saying I do not need your dead carcasses, your burnt offerings, or the blood of your animals without your heart and obedience.
  • Doing this ritual without the right heart attitude behind it is empty, and is an abomination.  It means nothing.  It was offensive to God.
  • So what were they to do?

(13)  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.  (14)  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.  (15)  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.  Isaiah 1:13-15

  • Let us gain some understanding by answering three questions from these verses.

1. What religious acts they were doing?

  • In short they were doing “empty rituals”.  Let us list the words that describe them:
    • “oblations”
    • “incense
    • “new moons and sabbaths”
    • “the calling of assemblies”
    • “the solemn meeting”
    • “new moons”
    • “appointed feasts”
    • “spread forth your hands”
    • “make many prayers”
  • Instead of describing what exactly each of the expressions describe, it is enough to know that it describes their participation in the ceremonial laws prescribed in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

 2. How did God see their religious expressions?

  • God describes their participation as hypocritical and offensive to Him. Notice the terms describing his view of their religiosity.
    • “vain”- empty and meaningless
    • “abomination”- detestable
    • “I cannot away with”-
    • “iniquity”- sin
    • “hateth”
    • “trouble”
    • “weary to bear them”
    • “hide my eyes”- He didn’t even want to look at what they were doing.
    • “i will not hear”-  He was not listening or considering the worship they were offering.

3. Why did he see them this way?

  • God gives the answer for his view of their worship when he said “your hands are full of blood”.
  • God would not accept their worship because of their participation in a lifestyle characterized by sin and injustice.
  • Their lifestyle outside of their religious practice disqualified their worship.

Application:

  • Scripturally prescribed practices are not the problem.
    • We ought to assemble with our church family for corporate worship and study of the Word of God.  We ought to baptize and partake of the Lord’s Supper.
  • Hypocrisy and injustice are the problem.
    • When we live a life that does not show faith in God through our obedience in every part of life it damages our attempts at genuine worship.
    • Paul warned the Corinthian church about this when he spoke about the coming to the “Lord’s table”.  Notice his instruction in 1 Corinthians:

1Co 11:27-29

(27)  Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  (28)  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

(29)  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

  • We ought to worship God in the way that He has called us to worship Him.  We must do it with a right heart and life that matches the worship that we offer.

 

Perspective #1- Empty Worship

Perspective #2- Right Worship. V.16-17

 (16)  Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;  (17)  Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  Isaiah 1:16-17

Explanation:

  • What was the proper response once they agreed with God about their empty ritualism?
  • How could they respond in a way that honored God to the diagnosis he was making about their spiritual health?
  • We can see the responses in these verses by just by identifying all of the verbs given as commands.  Read them as a list:
    • Wash
    • Make clean
    • Put away
    • Cease
    • Learn
    • Seek
    • Relieve
    • Judge (or Defend)
    • Plead
  • There were some things he was calling them to do. We could categorize them by saying that He was calling for them to repent, clean up, stop doing injustice and evil, and start doing right and defending the innocent and vulnerable.
  • Notice He did not tell them to stop doing their religious practices.
    • God had commanded those things.
    • He wanted their religious practice and their lives to match.
    • He wanted their worship on the Sabbath and their worship throughout the week to not be misaligned.
    • There needed to be worship that came from sincere hearts devoid of hypocrisy.
    • The sincerity of their worship would be substantiated by their willingness to walk away from evil and to do good for those who couldn’t bring them financial, political, or social advantage.
    • This is the essence of “pure religion” as James tells us.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  James 1:27

Application:

  • Worship is not something that happens only on Sundays.
    • It is not limited to singing.
    • Most ministry should not happen in a church building.
  • Worship is what we do as we live our lives every day.
    • Everyone is worshipping something.
      • People worship money, material wealth, other people, false gods, themselves, and almost anything and everything else.
    • For the believer in Christ, we must remind ourselves that our worship on Sunday does not allow for us to live however we want the rest of the week.
    • We must worship the Lord not only with our singing, responding to the preached Word of God, and service on Sunday, but also in the way that we live with our families, live in our neighborhoods, do business in the marketplace, and interact in our communities.
    • No matter what we do we ought to do it as unto the Lord.
    • This is not to minimize the importance of what we do as a gathered body of believers in weekly corporate worship.
    • Rather, our time together in gathered worship ought to equip us to live lives of honorable worship to the Lord the rest of the week.
    • The way we live ought to be aligned with the way we worship.
    • Is there an area of your life that is making authentic corporate worship impossible?  Look at the commands of God in verses 16 and 17 and give yourself some homework due today.

 

Perspective #1- Empty Worship

Perspective #2- Right Worship

 

Perspective #3- Results of Worship. V.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.  Isaiah 1:18-20

  • God had been making an argument.
  • The people were putting their faith in performing rituals while being blatantly disobedient in every other area of their lives.
  • What was the point of the rituals in the first place?
    • We know that God justified those who believed in Him.
    • They were justified because of their faith.  Their faith was demonstrated through obedience to the rituals and ceremonies that God required of them. The shedding of blood through the sacrifices God demanded were a picture of the coming sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, for the sin of the whole world.
    • God had been calling out the children of Israel because of their disobedience to his commands throughout their lives, and then their ritualistic adherence to the ceremonial law.
    • Their lifestyle outside of their obedience to the rituals demonstrated their lack of faith in God. They may have had faith in the ritual, but they did not have faith in God.
  • So God says to them, “let us reason together”.
    • He is asking them to think about what He has said.
    • If they were obedient to him and sought to obey him and every part of their lives and their faith would justify them.
  • He depicts this transformation from dirty to clean with a very visual picture.  Though their sins were as scarlet and crimson to white as snow or wool.
  • He then tells them that there will be blessing with obedience. If they would obey they will have his favor.
  • But if they disobeyed they would be “devoured by the sword.”
  • So the question he had for them could be phrased this way:  “Do you want blessing and life, or do you want wrath and death?

 

Application:

  • There is a similar application for us today.  True saving faith always results in works.  James said it this way.

(17)  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  (18)  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  James 2:17-18

  • These people were thinking that empty ritualism and religious activity would make them right with God.
  • The problem was their hypocritical living revealed their lack of faith in the true God.
  • It is important for us to examine our faith as well.
    • Do we serve God out of sheer tradition?
    • Have we truly repented of our sin and trusted in Christ alone for our salvation?
    • Is there evidence of our faith in God exhibited in our works, or are we content to practice our religion on Sunday and deny Him by our life the other six and a half days a week?
  • Listen to what Paul said in Philippians 2:12

(12)  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  Philippians 2:12

  • And like the audience of this first chapter, this is a matter of life and death for us.  We will all face eternity, and at that point the genuineness of our faith in Christ is the only thing that will matter.

Response:

  • If you have not truly trusted in Christ as Savior, know that though your sins be as scarlet they can be as white as snow!  Trust in Christ today!
  • If you do know Christ as your Savior, has your worship in any way become ritualistic and dispassionate?  What do you need to do for that to change?

 

Conclusion:

We can offer right worship to God by adopting three perspectives found in these verses.

Perspective #1- God’s perspective of Empty Worship

Perspective #2- God’s perspective of Right Worship

Perspective #3- God’s perspective on the Results of Worship

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