"Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations - I cannot bear your worthless assemblies." Isaiah 1:13
As Christ followers, why do we do the things we do? Why do we serve God? Why do we serve our communities? Why do we bring offerings? Why do we sacrifice? These are question that we need to think about and need to answer. Even in obeying God's commands, we can become complacent and irreverent. If our hearts aren't right with God and if our motives for offering and sacrifice aren't sincere, then the things we do don't mean anything to God. As a matter of fact, Isaiah goes on to say in 1:14-15, "Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. Whey you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening." God had commanded Israel to consecrate holy days (Sabbaths) and yearly assemblies (New Moons and solemn assemblies), but the people began meeting out of ritual and out of habit rather than out of love and sincerity. Their offerings and their sacrifices no longer pleased God because their hearts and their motives were impure. The people could fool each other with their outside appearances, but they could not fool God. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
Today, I am convinced that many times we meet together at the church out of habit or ritual. I am convinced that many times we give our offerings because of selfish motives. I am convinced that we sacrifice many times for recognition or for selfish return. God will not honor our habit or rituals. God will not honor our selfish offerings or sacrifices. As a matter of fact, they are detestable to God! They are a burden to God! What can we do? Isaiah gives us the remedy: REPENT! Isaiah 1:16-17 says, "Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." These words sound a lot like Micah 6. Verses 6-8 says, "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah reminded the people that God is more interested in the OFFERER than the offering. Let's take time today to evaluate our motives in doing what we do for the sake of Christ. If need be, let's repent of our selfishness. Let's repent of our meaningless offerings and sacrifices. If we are willing to repent, Isaiah 1:18 tell us this: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." God can and will forgive us and heal us, and our offering and sacrifices will rise to Him as beautiful gifts from His children.