Isaiah 1:12-15 Rest Means Rest!

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.

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