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Isaiah 1:10-20 (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. 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Many passages in the Bible are critical of the way God’s people worship. Under the influence of Satan, even something good like worship can be made bad. In this passage, the prophet Isaiah brings God’s warning. At this time in Israel’s history, the people were as wicked as the notorious cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were going through the ceremonies of worship with many prayers, services, and sacrifices. However, they were not letting God actually lead them and change their lives. They would leave worship, and then inflict violence on their neighbor, supported injustice that helped them, and oppressed the poor. Because of this, their hypocritical worship made God so angry he stopped listening to their prayers. However, even then, God was willing to cleanse their sins, if they would only repent and obey God (v. 19).