TEXT: Isaiah 1:10-15
10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Charles Spurgeon said, “It is a terribly easy matter to be a minister of the gospel and a vile hypocrite at the same time.”
In this series, we have dealt with the tragedy of those who have forgotten the faith that made America what she is today. But, as we look at the plight of the nation of Israel, we find another and, perhaps, a more dangerous tendency — that of a hypocritical faith. Even in the midst of their rebellion, many of the children of Israel were faithful in performing the religious rituals prescribed in the Law of Moses. But their heart was not in it. They would go up to the Temple and sacrifice to the Lord on Saturday, but go up to a hill and dance before Baal on Sunday.
A similar problem is impacting the church today. A Barna survey that used 20 questions to determine whether American Christians were more like Jesus or more like the Pharisees found that “most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category. They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.”
Regarding this passage, Dr. J. Alec Motyer writes: “Isaiah turns now to the religious life of the nation. The placing of this topic between his review of national fortunes and social conditions is significant. The kernel of every national problem is how people relate to God. They cannot be right anywhere if they are wrong here. Religion determines everything. But the people were extremely religious: they expended time on monthly, weekly, and other observances; the financial cost of sacrifices and offerings was considerable. It would be strange if they did not ask why, since they did so much for him, the Lord seemed to be doing nothing for them. But that is just the point: their religion was ‘what we do for God’ and not ‘how we enter into the grace he offers to us.'” I fear that, in too many churches today, there is a lot of activity for God and religiosity towards God and very little of God working through the people by His grace. We must remember, “It is not by might nor by power but by my spirit saith the Lord.”
Pastor Mark Clark, in his book, The Problem of God: Answering A Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity, identifies similarities between the church of today and the rebellious Israelites described in this passage: “Churches are filled with people who attend every Sunday service, don’t say bad words, don’t watch bad movies, and make sure to give their offering every week. However, they don’t actually know, love, or walk with God at all. They have simply adopted a cultural Christianity, an exoskeleton of religious trappings.”
The Israelites thought that they could get by with doing things for God. But God is much less interested in what we do for Him than He is in how we do those things for Him. You might give God a million dollars, but He isn’t pleased if you’ve given your heart to sin and idolatry. Dr. Motyer goes on to say, “The Israelites were as morally negligent as Sodom. Their offerings were meaningless because the Lord cannot bear wickedness coupled with religious punctiliousness. The hands they raised in prayer were blood-stained from wrongdoing. The act — the ritual, divorced from its source in a heart grateful for redemption, and from its function in the obedient life — was meaningless and abhorrent to the Lord.”
Can you imagine God getting sick and tired of the performance of the religious practices that He spent forty years inculcating into His people in the wilderness? Yet, that is what happened. God became fed up with the sacrifices, the church services, the commemorative feasts, and the people parading before Him. He hates it, it troubles Him, it is an abomination to Him. And because of the practice of hypocritical religion, He refuses to hear the prayers of Israel, and He chooses to hide His face from them. Many of our church services are filled with religious tradition and ritual practices. We would do well to learn from Israel and turn our hearts back to Him before we continue to suffer a slow burn destruction due to our own hypocrisy.
John Newton wrote:
Though in the outward church below
The wheat and tares together grow;
Jesus ere long will weed the crop,
And pluck the tares, in anger, up.
We seem alike when thus we meet,
Strangers might think we all are wheat;
But to the Lord’s all-searching eyes,
Each heart appears without disguise.
The tares are spared for various ends,
Some, for the sake of praying friends;
Others, the Lord, against their will,
Employs His counsels to fulfill.
But though they grow so tall and strong,
His plan will not require them long;
In harvest, when He saves His own,
The tares shall into hell be thrown.
If you are a Christian listening today, here are three things you need to do:
1. Confess and repent of your own sins. You already know what they are.
2. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ to repent of their sins and get back to their first love
3. Pray for souls to be saved, and do your part by witnessing to the lost.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.