Monday, September 9, 2013

Why God Hates Religion

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, September 8, 2013:  Isaiah 1:1-2:22

11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord.  “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle.  I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.  12 “When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts?  13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.  14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 
Isaiah 1:11-14 (NKJV)

Religion, by definition, is man’s attempt to rise to God.  True Christianity is God’s action to come down to man. 

Religion is rules.  Christianity is relationship. 

God speaks through Isaiah and lists seven rituals that He had come to hate.  It is amazing the sweep of these seven for they cover the gamut of Old Testament ceremonial law:
1.      Sacrifices and Burnt Offerings
2.      Incense
3.      New Moons
4.      Sabbath-keeping
5.      Assemblies
6.      Sacred Meetings
7.      Appointed Feasts

Judah had loved their religion and lost their relationship.  They had embraced the FORM and lost the POWER.  They were satisfied with the outward while the inward was decaying.

This is a wake-up call for us all!  God gave these levitical practices not as an end unto themselves, but as pointers.  They point us to Jesus.  Judah fell in love with the SHADOW and lost the SUBSTANCE (Col. 2:17).

So, what shall we do?  Shall we throw out all rituals and have not rules at all?  Isaiah answers in vss. 16-18:
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.  Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.  18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool
.  Isaiah 1:16-18 (NKJV)
The issue is not WHAT WE DO, but instead WHO WE ARE.  God calls not for an outward show of righteousness, but rather for a CLEAN HEART. 

He asks us a question:  “to what purpose are all these sacrifices in the first place?”  If your answer is that you want to please God by your obedience then you have missed the mark.  These rituals point us to the only One Who can wash us whiter than snow. 

God hates those things that we substitute for Him – even the rules for good conduct.  He has called us into relationship with Himself.  All else is but a shadow.

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