Jump Start # 1930
Isaiah 1:15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.”
Our verse today concludes a string of harsh realities for the nation of God. They have had one foot in the world of sin and the other foot with God. This has led to lifeless worship and a causal and flippant attitude toward God. They thought they could do what they want and as long as they offered God a few tokens of worship, all was fine. It was a grand life for these people until God pulled the plug on all of this. He was tired of indifferent worship. The words are serious:
I have had enough (v. 11)
I take no pleasure (v. 11)
Bring your worthless offerings no longer (v. 13)
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly (v. 13)
I hate your new moon festivals (v. 14)
I am weary of bearing them (v. 14)
I will hide My eyes from you (v. 15)
I will not listen (v. 15)
God was tired of being used. God was fed up with their indifferent spirit. Their worship was not doing them any good and it certainly wasn’t pleasing God. “I will not listen,” is such an astonishing comment. It’s shocking. Some couldn’t imagine God ever saying such things. There are lessons for us.
First, what’s going on inside of us is as important as what is going on the outside, when it comes to worship. It’s not a choice. It’s not having the right spirit but doing things not found in the Bible. But neither is it right that we follow the Bible to the letter, yet our attitudes and spirits are not right. It shouldn’t come down to a choice. We need both. Biblically, we need to worship as the N.T. authorizes. We also, need to remember who we come before. It’s the Lord of Heaven and Earth. Pure hands and pure hearts ought to be important to us.
So, these Isaiah passages remind us that God doesn’t accept anything and everything offered to Him in worship. God closed His eyes and turned His head to this worthless worship that the nation was offering. Sleepy worship. Bored audience. Daydreaming. Texting the time away. Playing with babies. All of these may make the time go by faster, but have we fooled ourselves into thinking that God is ok with this? Sitting in a church building without worshipping is not much different than staying in bed. It’s not our presence in a pew that draws the attention of God. It’s hearts that bow before Him and recognize how awesome He is.
Those that conduct worship are responsible for making sure what we do is Biblical. The responsibility rests upon their shoulders. However, only I can take care of my spirit and my attitude. No one can do that for me. Stress, worry, being tired, being preoccupied with other things, all have an influence upon the quality of my worship that I offer to God. The thoughts of worship begin long before I leave my house and walk into the church building. What I do on Saturday can influence my worship on Sunday. Have we thought that far ahead? It’s tough for young families. Getting everyone ready is hard. Find Bibles, class books, shoes and get the outfits all ready on Saturday before you go to bed. Thinking ahead. Thinking about worship. Thinking about what the Lord has done for you. All of this helps us to bring our A-game to worship. God has given His best and we need to be our best when we worship. Work on your insides. Get your heart ready to worship.
Second, our passage shows us that God doesn’t listen to every prayer. He declared, “I will not listen.” Now, think about the guy who never prays. He’s too cool and too busy to pray. Life is good. He can handle whatever comes his way. But one day, there are things that he can’t handle. A hurricane. A death. Destruction. Out of options, he decides to pray. It hasn’t been his first choice, but rather the last and final thing after everything else has been tried. When all else fails, he prays. If these earlier attempts had worked, he wouldn’t pray. He wouldn’t need to, so he thinks. He is a guy who doesn’t have time for worship. The Bible is no where to be found in his home. He knows nothing about God, except now that he is in real trouble, he prays hoping God will pull something out of His magic hat and rescue him. If he does, he’ll be glad and go on his way and not bother God again until the next major problem. If God doesn’t come through, he’ll start to wonder if God is even there.
God doesn’t hear every prayer. Peter told husbands that the way they lived with their wives would impact the prayers they said to God. God doesn’t work for us. He is not required to do anything we ask. He doesn’t answer to us. So, here we have prayers going up, but not being heard. They were not heard because those saying the prayers were not living as they should. They did not have a relationship with God. They were not walking with God.
The insincerity of the nation’s worship destroyed their prayers. They said them but God didn’t hear them. Shout louder? That won’t help things. Pray longer? That’s not the answer. Use bigger words? Nope. The answer is look in your heart. What have you done to God? They mistreated God, took advantage of God, demanded of God and expected everything to be just fine. In any other relationship, be it among friends, be it in a marriage, to treat one this way, would most likely end the relationship.
Finally, this passage ought to remind us that God is not like us. We can fool each other. We can get by with faking things. God is not like this. He wants genuine faith. He wants sincerity. He wants us to love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul.
Excellence in worship and excellence in our hearts is what God deserves. We need to give Him our best!
I will not listen…the problem wasn’t with God, it was with the nation. May we learn and do better.