Arrogance and Empty Worship

(Today's post by Chris Queen)

Isaiah 29:1-30:14

In chapter 29 of Isaiah, God is warning of trouble for Ariel. No, the Little Mermaid isn’t a target for God’s wrath; rather, the Hebrew word Ari’el means “Lion of God” and refers to Israel. God promises problems what will suddenly disappear. Why? Halfway through the chapter, Isaiah explains:

13 Then Adonai said: “Because these people approach me with empty words, and the honor they bestow on me is mere lip-service; while in fact they have distanced their hearts from me, and their 'fear of me' is just a mitzvah [command] of human origin 14 therefore, I will have to keep shocking these people with astounding and amazing things, until the 'wisdom' of their 'wise ones' vanishes, and the 'discernment' of their 'discerning ones' is hidden away.” 15 Woe to those who burrow down deep to hide their plans from ADONAI! They work in the dark and say to themselves, “Nobody sees us, nobody knows us.” 16 How you turn things upside down! – Is the potter not better than the clay, Does something made say of its maker, “He didn't make me”? Does the product say of its producer, “He has no discernment”?

(FYI – I’m using the Complete Jewish Bible translation because I like it best here.)

There are two factors at work here. The first is the Israelite’s empty worship. When God’s people came to the temple, it was just another part of their week. They were going through the motions and not worshiping from a sincere heart. In reality, their hearts were elsewhere.

The other factor is Israel’s arrogance. They dared to believe they knew their best interest better than God. They chose to take their lives into their own hands rather than to trust the God who created them, equipped them with the way of salvation, and delivered them from captivity.

Because of these two factors, God warned of trouble for Israel, but He promised to do some miraculous things to get His people’s attention and bring them back to Him.

18 On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 The humble will again rejoice in ADONAI and the poor exult in the Holy One of Isra'el, 20 for the tyrant is now nothing, the scoffer is finished, and all alert to do evil are cut off 21 those whose words make a man out to be a sinner, those who set traps for the arbitrator at the city gate, and those who groundlessly deny justice to the one in the right. 22 Therefore, here are the words of ADONAI, who redeemed Avraham, [Abraham] concerning the house of Ya'akov [Jacob]: “Ya'akov will no longer be ashamed, no longer will his face grow pale. 23 When his descendants see the work of my hands among them, they will consecrate my name. Yes, they will consecrate the Holy one of Ya'akov and stand in awe of the God of Isra'el. 24 Those whose spirits stray will come to understand, and those who complain will learn their lesson.

Has your worship become mere lip service? Are you battling an arrogant attitude toward God? Humble yourself. Find ways to refresh your prayer life and your worship. Don’t wait for God to get your attention.

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