Isaiah 1:10-15 God Hates Religion

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.

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