Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts; do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 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.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
In this opening section of Isaiah, God is speaking through the prophet and He is not happy with the worship that His people are offering to Him. They had gotten to the place where worshiping God was simply a routine. They came to God’s house at the times they were supposed to and they brought the offerings and things that they were supposed to bring, but God was not pleased. The problem isn’t in what they were bringing to Him or that they were doing something wrong. It looked like everything was fine. The problem is that their hearts had gotten away from God. They were no longer serving God and living for Him. They continued to come to the house of God to worship, but they did it only out of habit, and not because they wanted to. God said that He didn’t need any of their offerings. He did not take pleasure in what they were doing. Their hearts were focused on sin and not on God.
When we worship God it is not about the outward things. It is not enough to just come to church and bring our offerings to God. God wants our hearts. God does not need our offerings. God is not pleased because we simply showed up at church. God wants us to have a heart to live for Him. That is what pleases God. Nothing less. God is concerned about our hearts. He wants our hearts to be focused on Him and on Him alone. We cannot pull one over on God and try to put on a show to impress Him. He can see into our hearts and if it is not pleasing to Him, it doesn’t matter what we do on the outside. The cure for these people and the cure for us when our worship gets to be routine is to wash ourselves. Verse 16 is the key. God says that they are to wash themselves, take their evil deeds out of His sight, and stop doing wrong. In order to have a heart that worships God the way that He wants, we must stop doing wrong. God wants us to live pure lives. When we do that, He is pleased with our worship.
Today, think about your heart when you worship. Think about the reasons that you worship God on your own and the reasons you worship Him when you come to church.