“Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting – they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.”
Like many of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah had the hard job of communicating God’s holy and righteous anger to the people of God, even if it was with such heavy words as we read in today’s verse. Yet the message was timely and necessary, even if it was hard hitting.
Israel were in a time of rebellion. The once faithful chosen people of God, now living as prostitutes, selling themselves to false idols, and worship of pagan gods, corrupted by the love of money and sinful pleasures (v19). Yet they still hypocritically made time to offer sacrifices to God in His temple, and still made time to observe the holy days, as set out in the law given by Moses. Yet their actions, according to God, where meaningless,, sinful and false. God didn’t want to receive gifts from people just ticking off their religious duty lists. God wanted people who loved Him and served Him only. He wanted people who did good, sought after justice, helped the oppressed, defended the cause of orphans, and fought for the rights of widows (v17).
Yet God in His grace, even in the midst of the Israel’s deep rebellion and falsehood, still promised them a way out and still promised that He would make them new again, if they just turned to Him in truth. He promised to turn their scarlet sins as white as snow, and as pure white wool (v18).
Today’s truth is a reminder that it is never too late to turn back to our kind and loving and faithful God. You too may be living in opposition to God and maybe God is calling you back to Him as He did with Israel. He promised to turn our scarlet sins as white as snow too. He wants us to worship Him in truth; To do good, seek justice, helping the oppressed, defending the cause of orphans and fighting for the rights of widows. But above all, He wants all of our hearts. To say ‘no more’ to sinful rebellion, and yes to a true and right standing relationship with Him. Even in the midst of our sin, Jesus always offers His hand of mercy.