At one time or another, while happily chatting with someone, many of us probably have opened the refrigerator and poured ourselves a nice, tall, cool glass of milk. Without giving it much attention, we took a large mouthful. Then the stench and the taste of thoroughly rancid milk overpowered our senses. If we were lucky we made it to the kitchen sink.
Not just milk turns repugnant. Can you imagine God gagging and being absolutely repulsed at something which was good? It has happened. Through Isaiah, God told his people, “stop bringing meaningless sacrifices! Your incense is detestable to me. … I can not bear your evil assemblies.”1 Through song, David acknowledged the same truth. “You do not delight in sacrifice … you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.”2 What?
Had not God requested these very aspects of worship? Does God play mind games with his people by asking for something he does not want?
Through the poetry of Isaiah and David, God explained, “Take your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing wrong, learn to do right.”3 Although God’s people were going through the right rituals of worship, their hearts were far from him, as evidenced by their sinful and rebellious lifestyle. Furthermore, David recognized, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise. … Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”4
The message is clear. Unless we are first changed, our worship is transformed into something repugnant to God. This message is as vital today as it was then. While Christians do not offer animal sacrifices, we do offer up a sacrifice of praise from the fruit of our lips.5
Is it not wonderful that what God asks of us is not beyond any of us? Let’s be humble and repentant, a people whose lives are shaped by God’s love, not darkness. As such, let’s gather with grateful hearts to worship our merciful Almighty God.
1/ Isaiah 1:13
2/ Psalm 51:16
3/ Isaiah 1:16,17
4/ Psalm 51:17,19
5/ Hebrews 12:15
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