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Isaiah 1:24, 1020 comment (0)

November 2, 2006

By Jerry W. Batson

Related Scripture: Isaiah 1:24, 1020

Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Live in Relationship, Not Rebellion
Isaiah 1:2–4, 10–20

From the beginning, God has modeled living in relationship. As God in three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been in relationship with each other for all eternity. When God created humans, He made them to live in relationship with Him and  others.

The human tragedy consists in acting rebelliously and thereby breaking the relationship with God. That first broken relationship soon led to ruined relations with others. Adam and Eve broke a perfect relationship with God through rebellion against God’s command. A family in rebellion brought forth sons who failed in their relationship with each other; Cain killed Abel. From then on, God has been seeking to restore rebellious human beings to right relationships with Him and each other.

This lesson highlights for us the benefits of living in right relation with God and others by setting forth what matters to the enjoyment of the full, meaningful life He intended for us.

What Is Lost Matters (2–4)
Speaking through Isaiah and acting as Divine Prosecutor, God charged the people of Judah with rebellion against Him. Like children brought up in good families sometimes do, God’s people — whom He had fathered and reared — rebelled. So God charged them with dealing corruptly with others and forsaking Him. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel cycled through times of rebellion followed by repentance and then rebellion again.

Isaiah noted that animals know where home is. Oxen know their owner and donkeys know where their master’s feeding trough is located. By contrast, God’s rebellious people forgot where they belonged and who sustained them. So they forsook God.

In abandoning God, people lost their intimate family ties with Him and found themselves totally estranged from Him. Loss of deep, spiritual family connections with God and His people is a loss that matters in both time and eternity.

Why I Worship Matters (10–15)

God’s view of Judah’s spiritual condition was expressed by comparing the people to Sodom and Gomorrah. A more shocking portrayal of the depth of the people’s departure from God could hardly have been imagined.

Given the manner of life embraced by Judah, its acts of worship were invalidated. God did not welcome what otherwise would have been acceptable worship practices. Offerings, sacrifices, special feast days and prayers were longstanding ingredients of Israel’s worship. Unless acts of worship are an extension of our everyday lives lived faithfully before Him, however, God takes no pleasure in our worship. We cannot compartmentalize our lives so as to separate daily life from Sunday worship. What we are normally impacts the value of our weekly worship.

The problem in Judah was not that their worship rituals and traditions were themselves evil. Those practices had no real value apart from a meaningful, life-transforming relationship with God.

Prayer can never serve successfully as a means for manipulating God or as a cover-up for our sins. Even as we are in the midst of worship, God knows our heart and has witnessed our prior deeds.

How I Live Matters (16–20)
Addressing the people through the prophet, God urged His people to turn to Him for purification. He expected them to abandon sinful attitudes and practices and to pursue goodness and right conduct. When we are in right relationship with God, we desire to live purely. Confession and repentance are necessary for us to live in right relationship with God.

God’s expectations about right conduct leading to acceptable worship are very specific. God called Judah to stop doing evil, learn afresh what is good, seek justice, correct wrongs and defend the rights of the powerless, such as orphans and widows.

God’s invitation to all who have failed Him remains the same, “Come.” To those who are willing and obedient, God offers to make sins that are scarlet as white as snow. God’s way of providing forgiveness of sins and restoration of a right relationship with Him is through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior.

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