Archive for October, 2010

Isaiah 1:16-17 Short and Sweet

Posted in Isaiah on October 24, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:16-17 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

Many times in today’s culture, we hear that the Bible is open to interpretation. God is a direct communicator. Here is what God says in response to all of the sin. He uses simple, direct statements. The directions are generally two to four words in nature. In these two verses, look at the verbs. The list includes: wash, make, remove, cease, learn, seek, reprove, defend, and plead. Let’s be honest, this is not complicated stuff. Ultimately, the issue is not an intellectual puzzle or riddle. It is a moral issue and a matter of personal will.

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Isaiah 1:12-15 Rest Means Rest!

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:12-15 When you enter my presence, do you actually think I want this – animals trampling on my courtyards?  Do not bring any more meaningless offerings; I consider your incense detestable!You observe new moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations, but I cannot tolerate sin-stained celebrations!I hate your new moon festivals and assemblies; they are a burden that I am tired of carrying. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood.

The focus of this study is the origin and intent of the religious works in the following verses. These include the burning of incense, new moon festivals, the Sabbath, and prayer. Again, these people are going through the motions and the Jews do not take these seriously. It is a broken record, but these folks are living a lifestyle of sin.

What is the relevance of incense? Revelation 5:8b makes it very clear what incense is. It is prayer. Each of them had a harp and golden bowls full of incense (which are the prayers of the saints). The imageryis the ascension of smoke is like a prayer being offered up to God. This same idiomatic language is noted in Psalm 141:2. Incense is the symbol for prayer. The directions for making and using incense are noted in Exodus 30:34-35. Incense is to be made in a specific manner and is to be used only in a sacred manner. If used inappropriately, the guilty party is to be cut off (DEATH!) from the people.

New Moon Festivals: These festivals were celebrated every month as prescribed by a lunar calendar. Sacrifices and offerings were a part of the festival and as noted in Numbers 28:11-15. Trumpets were blown (Numbers 10:10) and business was not conducted (Amos 8:5).

The Sabbath has taken on many meanings to the Jewish people. In Genesis 2:2-3, God rested on the seventh day after creation. The Sabbath is a reminder of the God’s rest. This day is practiced with rest and work is not to be completed. Exodus 20:8-11 “Rememberthe Sabbath day to set it apart as holy.For six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you,or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates.For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. That sounds a bit extreme in today’s culture. God takes this very seriously and he is interested in obedience. Look at Exodus 31:14. So you must keep the Sabbath, for it is holy for you. Everyone who defiles it must surely be put to death; indeed,if anyone doesanywork on it, then that person will be cut off from among hispeople. Just in case there is any confusion about the penalty, death is explicitly stated emphatically two times in the verse. The phrase “cut off” in the Hebrew is another way to express death.

The last of these is prayer. Plain and simple, prayer is a conversation or dialogue between a person and God. In verse 15, you can see the person stretching their hands out and leaning their head back and closing their eyes to the heavens (much the same way as viewed on television with today’s “miracle workers” and “healers”). God’s response, He literally closes His eyes and ears to the petition. Why, because their hands are covered with blood. In the final analysis, God hates religion.

Isaiah 1:11 Sacrifices No More!

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , on October 10, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:11 “Of what importance to me are your many sacrifices?”says the Lord. “I am stuffed withburnt sacrifices of rams and the fat from steers. The blood of bulls, lambs, and goats I do not want.

The idea God is expressingis that he is full and stuffed with the sacrifices. I am sure the Jewish people are thinking, “Well this is what we are supposed to do. We are doing what You told us to do.” The bottom line is that God rejects their sacrifice because of their continued sin. In fact, God rejects their offerings every time in verses 11-15. Enough with the religious performance, God rejects it absolutely.

The Jews are sparing no expense during these sacrifices. They are offering up the “fat”. In the Hebrew, this is the choicest parts, the best, the most abundant. This same concept is in the phrase “your many sacrifices”. The idea is abundance.

The protocol of a burnt offering calls for a person to bring a young bull, lamb, goat, dove, or pigeon. The person doing the sacrifice was to personally lay their hand on the animal and kill the animal. The specific details of the sacrificial system are noted in Leviticus 1-7.

The point of the sacrificial system is to remind the Jewish people of their sin. People can not atone or pay for sin on their terms. The blood of the innocent must be shed on behalf of the guilty. God defines the terms. This concept starts in the Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man.  Adam and Eve’s solution was to sew fig leaves together in Genesis 3:7. God rejected their effort. God replaced the fig leaves with garments of skin in Genesis 3:21. An innocent animal was sacrificed and blood was shed to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. Sin is dealt with on God’s terms, not man’s. Despite the best of intentions, man’s efforts will never be good enough to pay for sin even if that sin is accidental.

These sacrifices were a shadow of things to come when one man would be sacrificed once and for all for sin. Jesus was the sacrifice when He paid the price for sin on the cross (Hebrews 7:27, 9:28, 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18).

Isaiah 1:10-15 God Hates Religion

Posted in Isaiah with tags , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by paulthepoke

Isaiah 1:10-15 Listen to the Lord’s word, you leaders of Sodom! Pay attention to our God’s rebuke, people of Gomorrah! “Of what importance to me are your many sacrifices?”says the Lord. “I am stuffed withburnt sacrifices of rams and the fat from steers. The blood of bulls, lambs, and goats I do not want.When you enter my presence, do you actually think I want this –animals trampling on my courtyards? Do not bring any more meaninglessofferings; I consider your incense detestable!You observe new moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations, but I cannot tolerate sin-stained celebrations!I hate your new moon festivals and assemblies; they are a burden that I am tired of carrying. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way;when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood.

Religion is going through a ritual or performance. Religion can take many forms. Religion thinks these acts are going to score points with God or impress God. One can see God is not impressed with the religious acts of the Jews in Isaiah 1:10-15. Yes, the Jewish people were required to sacrifice according the Scriptures, but look at their attitude and their actions above. God makes it perfectly clear in  verse 14, “I hate …” Make no mistake, in the Hebrew the word means hate.

Look at the cynicism and sarcasm in verse 10. God refers to the leaders of Jerusalem as comparable to Sodom and Gomorrah. The level of sin had reached the point of their destruction.

Observe the list of “works” as noted by God in these verses. They include burnt sacrifices, offerings, burning of incense, new moon festivals, observance of the Sabbath, and prayer. Yes, even prayer can be “religious” and hated by God. In the next study, the origin of these “religious works” and specific verses will be discussed and defined in their appropriate context.

What is that motivates somebody to do something for “religious” purposes? Is one trying to impress others? Is one trying to draw attention to self for their glory?  Is one trying to get God’s attention or impress God? God is not impressed with “works”. He does not need them. One cannot work their way to Heaven. These Jews were doing what they were supposed to do. They were going to the synagogue on Saturday and burning incense. Does this sound familiar? The problem was ritual and they were going through the motions.

Fast forward to the New Testament, things had not changed much in the church in I Corinthians 11. People were showing up for the Lord’s Supper drunk. Yes, communion is a wonderful thing, but not if you have a bad attitude.

I Corinthians 11:20-22 Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!

So what should our attitude be? Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. This is having confidence of knowing that what the Bible says is real. Knowing when God says that we should love one another (1 John 3:11b) that it is the truth. It is having the resolution and the confidence that God knows what is best for us. We are to do these works because God has deemed what is good and what is right. God created these good works for us to complete before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10). We do these works because we relate and respond to His Word. James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. So, if one’s works are not based in faith… pointless religion.

In today’s world, God is still not interested in misguided works. He is interested in relation and response to His Word. The world may say, “Well, that works for you.” And the answer is, “Yes it does”.  It is also true that God’s Word can work for all of us.

PaulthePoke

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