Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: http://sothrichfield.podbean.com
Isaiah 1:10-17 (NIV)
10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 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. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! 16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
The book of Isaiah opens with striking words to the people of Israel. They had deluded themselves into thinking that everything was OK; that they were alright with God because they offered all sacrifices commanded by God (see Exodus-Deuteronomy). They were “going through the motions.” Their hearts did not actually trust, love, and fear God. As we begin this season of Advent, we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. When we live our lives “going through the motions,” our hearts are not in tune with God. We may fail to see how our actions hurt those around us: lashing out, criticizing those close to us, and using our resources to meet our own desires without considering those in need. The question is, in our heart, do we care about what God cares about or are we going through the motions? God has blessed each of us in unique ways to bear and reflect His image. Now, this Advent, let us prepare for the coming of our King by learning “to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17) Let us pray: Lord, You desire justice, mercy, and righteousness. Teach us your ways, transform our hearts and guide us. Amen.