Isaiah 29:15-30:11; Galatians 4:21-31; Psalms 63:1-5; Proverbs 16:24
OT: “The Lord said: These people approach me with their speeches to honor me with lip-service, yet their hearts are far from me, and human rules direct their worship of me. Therefore, I will again confound these people with wonder after wonder. The wisdom of their wise will vanish, and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden. Woe to those who go to great lengths to hide their plans from the Lord. They do their works in the dark, and say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You have turned things around, as if the potter were the same as the clay. How can what is made say about its maker, “He didn’t make me”? How can what is formed say about the one who formed it, “He doesn’t understand what he’s doing”? …They are a rebellious people, deceptive children, children who do not want to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy the truth to us. Tell us flattering things. Prophesy illusions. Get out of the way! Leave the pathway. Rid us of the Holy One of Israel.”” Isaiah 29:13-16; 30:9-11 CSB
This was an indictment from the Lord against the people of Jerusalem. Jerusalem watched the Northern kingdom fall to Assyria. Instead of the Northern kingdom’s fall bringing Jerusalem to repentance, the leaders of Jerusalem became more emboldened in their self-righteousness, thinking, “It will never happen to us.” The people of Jerusalem probably considered themselves to be God’s chosen people… the people of David, whose reign would never end. The Lord, however, saw beyond their religious rituals and self-righteous pride. The Lord said, “They look like they are devoted to Me with their religious talk and their ritualistic observations, but their hearts are far from Me. They appear to worship Me but their worship is based on a human contrived production, not on sincere adoration and absolute surrender.“
When an invasion from Assyria seemed eminent, instead of looking to the Lord and trusting in Him, Jerusalem depended on Egypt to protect them. That again brought an indictment from the Lord. God called them a rebellious people that refused to listen to the Lord their Maker and wanted nothing to do with the Holy One of Israel. They only wanted to hear what they wanted to hear. The leaders in Jerusalem shut down the true prophets of the Lord and set up their own prophets that would not bring correction, but would encourage them in their sin and rebellion.
It is sad to read of the people of Jerusalem, God’s holy city, drifting so far away from God and ending up in rebellion against the Lord. It is even more sad to see the same drift happen in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ – especially in the United States of America. The attitude of “religious Christians” in the United States is very similar to the attitude of the people of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day. They think that America is “God’s city on a hill…” that America is God’s chosen nation… that God would never bring judgement on the U.S. All the while, the “religious Christians” in the church self-righteously practice their religion while allowing their heart to move further and further away from the Lord. More and more, many in the “church” drift away from the truth and teachings of the word and actually condemn those who defend the word – all the while listening to religious influencers who fall in line with the “truths” of the day.
Psalms: “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.” (Psalms 63:1-5 CSB)
The superscription for his psalm states that this psalm was written while David was in the wilderness of Judah. Most likely, this was when he had to flee into the desert to save his life. In the midst of the bleak and desolate wilderness while undergoing a discouraging and challenging trial, David didn’t do what the leaders in Jerusalem did in Isaiah’s day. David eagerly turned to the Lord and sought Him. Why did David react that way? Because David’s heart was after the Lord. His praise wasn’t just lip service. David’s acts of worship were not merely ritual acts, they were expressions of his complete dependence, reliance and adoration of His God. David longed for the sanctuary of the Lord and looked forward to abiding in God’s presence. David had found out through his life that God’s love was better than life itself, and would gladly bless the Lord as long as he lived.
For the church – especially in the United States – to avoid the correction and discipline that the city of Jerusalem experienced, we must return to a love and devotion for the Lord, His word, will and ways that rivals David’s love and devotion for his God. As the world around us becomes more and more dry and desolate, where will we turn? Will we follow the wisdom and trends of the world, will we trust in our own devices, or will we say, “God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You.”?
Prayer: Lord, You don’t call me to mere religious observance. You aren’t simply concerned that I say and do the right things. You are after my heart. It does me no good to appear religious on the outside while my heart is set against You. Like David, I say, “God, You are my God and I eagerly seek You at all times, through every season – for Your love and mercy is greater than life itself.” In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.