December 21. 2020

Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. – Isaiah 1:13-15 ESV

Isaiah had a vision that GOD was tired of the status quo. In the first chapter of Isaiah, God expresses his dissatisfaction with the sacrifices Israel offered. On the outside, they were doing exactly as God asked: they sacrifice rams and bulls, fat and blood, lambs, goats, and incense. They honored the Sabbath. They had a system for remembering when to feast and celebrate what God has done. But God said their sacrifices were meaningless. Quantity was not the issue- the issue was their heart, it was Quality! Their elaborate prayers used their lips and their hands and looked great on the outside but there is no heart behind them. (Matthew 6:5)

Leader, all religions make sacrifices to their gods because they believe they are feeding them. The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary says, “Popular Israelite religion frequently forgot that God was not actually fed through sacrifice and sought to manipulate him through such offerings.” They forgot why they were making sacrifices—they thought they had to feed the God who created the world. But God wasn’t dependent on the Israelites and their sacrifices. They were dependent on him. The sacrifices were meant to be an external symbol of an internal process: repentance (Isaiah 1:16–20). The Faithlife Study Bible (FSB) says “God calls for inward repentance after condemning the empty efforts of outward observance.” They were cleaning the outside of the cup, while filth festered on the inside (Luke 11:39).

Conduit, “An increase in offerings is meaningless without a change in attitudes. The sacrifice fundamentally represented Israel’s relationship with Yahweh, by which Israelites acknowledge dependence on Him. There was no point in going through the motions if they’d abandoned that dependence—either through idolatry or pride in their self-sufficiency.” This is why the GIFT of Isaiah 9:6 is so important; HE is a NEED who WANTS to be a WANT! Christ’s position as our Wonderful Counselor means we can trust Him to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction (Proverbs 3:6). We can be sure He is listening because He told us to pray to Him about our worries (Philippians 4:6; James 1:5). We can be certain He has our best interests at heart because He loves us (1 John 4:19). And His love is so wide and deep (and wonderful) that we cannot fully understand it (Romans 5:8). However, Jesus is not only our FULL OF WONDER, COUNSELOR…BUT if you will you LET HIM, He wants to be your Mighty God, your Everlasting Father and your PRINCE OF PEACE! If you are willing- OPEN YOUR HEART; Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving, ETERNALLY!


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