7 Your country is deserted, your cities have been burned up with fire; your land: aliens are devouring it in your presence, and it is desolate, as if devastated by foreigners. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a hut in a vineyard, like a shelter in a cucumber field, like a city that is besieged. 9 If Yahveh of armies had not left us survivor, we would have been as few as Sodom, we would have become like Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of Yahveh, rulers of Sodom! Listen, the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah! 11 What is that heap of your sacrifices to me? says Yahveh. I have had enough burnt offerings of rams and fat, fattened animals and I do not enjoy blood of bulls and ram-lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who asked for this from your hand: you trampling my courts? 13 You must not keep bringing useless offerings, incense—which stinks to me; each new moon and Sabbath, each calling of a convocation– I cannot endure iniquity when you assemble. 14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become to me like a burden I am not able to bear. 15a And when you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many a prayer, I am not listening.
trouble at church
Church worship services can be a refreshing, healing blessing for the worshipper. But sometimes they do not feel that way. Sometimes controversy and conflict make it a chore to go regularly to worship. Isaiah gives God’s perspective. The LORD felt that way about the regular services at the Jerusalem temple. He hated going there. The pile of slaughtered animals was repulsive to him. The incense, which was designed to please him, stunk literally to high heaven. So, even though God is everywhere, he decided to remain passive at the temple. People could pray all they wanted to, he would not listen. They can worship all they want, he would not look.
This world is full of religion. People gather in temples, mosques and churches all over the globe. They think that it makes a difference. But if they are rebelling against God, it doesn’t. The religion of the rebellious is repulsive to him.
LORD, forgive us for substituting religion for a relationship with you. Restore us, oh LORD, so that our worship brings you pleasure.