TEXT: Isaiah 1:1-20
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
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.
16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Tim Challies said, “God hates hypocrisy because hypocrisy misuses religion, taking advantage of its laws and decrees for self-advancement. Hypocrites want religion—even the Christian faith—only for the advantages they gain from it. They fail to truly turn their hearts to God and do good to God’s people.”
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 is being described in this passage. God became fed up with the sacrifices, the commemorative feasts, and the people parading before Him. He hated it and he declared it an abomination to Him. He refused to hear Israel’s prayers and chose to hide His face from them. As we examined in our last message in this series, much of our church services are filled with religious tradition and ritual practices that do not square with our lives outside of the church.
A study on hypocrisy in religion published in the Review of Religious Research identifies “the curse of Christianity as the Christian who can pledge allegiance to Christ and totally disregard His teachings and His life. There are two reasons for this: The person does not recognize his or her own hypocrisy, and no sanctions in the church prevent getting by with it. Diagnosis, the first step toward a cure of hypocrisy, is itself afflicted with the disease. It differs from theft, murder, adultery, and other sins, for it is a method of dealing with sin which prevents a solution. It prevents one from facing reality objectively. Alleged hypocrisy is all around us. People can resist God while going through the motions of work and involvement in ‘God’s work.’ Even while preparing to go to church, family members may use harsh words against each other that clash with the songs of praise that follow. Garrison Keillor tells about two feuding church leaders. When brought together for dinner in an attempted reconciliation, a silent grace was called for. It seemed interminably long, because each of the men refused to close the prayer time by saying ‘Amen!’ lest he demonstrate that he was less holy than the other.”
The thing that irritated God the most about Israel’s misbehavior — even beyond her outright abandonment of faith — was her hypocritical religious practices. While some in Israel and Judah simply ignored God, His prophets, and His word, others continued their religious practices even though their hearts were not in it. In verses 13-14, we read these shocking words: “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. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.”
Can you imagine God saying that our church services are “iniquity”? That His soul “hates” our church get-togethers? That our meetings and programs and ministries are troublesome and wearying? Why was the Lord tired? Because, although His people were saying the right things with their mouths and acting the right way with their bodies, their hearts were far from HIm, and their actions became increasingly distant. And what brings that on — a lack of genuine prayer.
Hypocrisy and hypocritical religious practice is rampant in the American church today. Millions gather every weekend, millions more gather on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. We go through the motions. We dress up and play holy. We use the church for selfish and earthly gain. But our day-to-day lives are far from Scriptural reality. That is what had God fed up with Israel. And that is what has God fed up with us today. As John MacArthur said, “The attitude of obedience is much more vital than the act, because if the attitude is right, the act will naturally follow. But the right action with the wrong attitude is nothing but 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.