Israel has stopped listening to the Lord. Watching as they bring vain sacrifices has become a burden to the Lord. Repent!
We are not told how long into the life of Isaiah this message comes. Does it come during the reign of one of the ‘good’ kings? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t come during the time of Ahaz for he had the Temple nailed shut. There was no bringing of sacrifices to the Lord or honoring the festivals.
Whatever time it is chronologically, spiritually it is a time of ‘lip service’ to the Lord. The people are continuing to sin. If it were a physical item, it would be piling up and reaching far above the earth. The people believed that their ritual sacrifices took care of their sins but there was no repentance behind the sacrifices or any change in behavior. Without repentance there is no forgiveness.
The repentance required is not an “I’m sorry because I got caught” but a heart’s full acceptance of “It’s my fault, and I have done wrong” regardless of discovery. And this kind of repentance brings with it a change in behavior. Israel was far from this place of repentance at the time; probably far from BOTH types of repentance.
God gave Moses and Aaron the requirements for the sacrifices and festivals for a reason. They were to remind the people of where their hope comes from. To remind them of God’s works in the past and His faithfulness forever. God DID NOT ‘enjoy’ the deaths of all the animals laid on His altars over the years. It was a necessary part of maintaining a relationship with man. There had to be blood to atone for sin and that sin had to be covered for God and man to share in relationship. And the ONLY WAY it works is if the one offering the sacrifice does so out of a desire for renewed relationship with God.
Since God didn’t ‘enjoy’ the sacrifices, seeing them wasted by the wrong attitude made it even worse. If an animal lost its life for a reason, it was acceptable. But it if surrendered its life in a farce, this was grievous to the Lord. God would MUCH rather see the individual putting an effort into obeying His Law than bringing a sacrifice. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). God wants you to not NEED those sacrifices. To not NEED forgiveness.
As I was thinking about Israel’s position during this time, a thought popped into my head; two actually. I want to share them with you. The first involves cars. I was thinking of someone who has a car that is literally falling apart around them, buying premium gasoline. They heard somewhere that premium was THE BEST for cars. They pump hundreds of dollars a month into the BEST gas for their vehicle, while neglecting to fix the leaking gas tank, the plugged carburetor, the broken shocks, and the knocking engine. They believe if they just get enough ‘good gas’ into their car, everything will be fine. NO amount of gas will make the car’s problems go away. Work has to be done on the car before the higher quality gas will have ANY effect.
The second visual that came to me was the buffalo that used to roam the planes of North America. The Native Americans were rightly angry when they came upon a buffalo that was killed for sport or one specific organ. The waste of an animal’s life when most of it would be discarded. Those who committed this kind of act were vile. They did not value the life they had taken; only what they could benefit from.
Israel was this kind of wasteful. They wasted lives because they really wanted NO PART of the change required of the sacrifice. God PROMISED that if they WOULD mend their ways, all would go good with them. He would restore them if they would only turn to Him in earnest.
God LONGS to restore our broken relationships too. His greatest desire is to have us living for Him, without the need of sacrifices or repentance. He DELIGHTS in seeing us obey. He WILL forgive us when we come to Him with the right attitude. And His heart HURTS until we get there!
Father God, I wish I could say that I will never hurt Your heart again. I try my BEST not to come to our time each day with an attitude of ritual. I want each time we meet together to be profitable for my spirit, soul, and body. I want to listen like a child to You as You tell me the stories each day. Help me obey FIRST Father, then bring my sins to You for Your ‘cleaning.’ Thank You for NEVER giving up on me! I NEVER want to be a burden to You!!!