In the book of Isaiah, God expressed how sick He was of Israel’s worship. It was worship that was hypocritical, vain—empty. God said, “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.”… “Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me.”… “Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:11-14). Sounds like God decided He didn’t like worship anymore, until you look closer. God did desire all of the above, but not from the type of people Israel had become.
God had said of Israel, “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward” (Isaiah 1:4). They were sick: spiritually sick, “From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment” (Isaiah 1:6). God also said, “Your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1:15). This was the situation. Israel’s worship was hated by God because their life did not reflect the “devotion” given in worship. They came and offered lip service to God while their lives were full of idolatry, immorality, deceit, murder, and ruin.
God hates worship from people who have made themselves slaves of sin. He despises it. It is like a lover speaking beautiful words to their mate, while secretly entangled in adultery. It is like a man making a promise that he never intends to keep. It is like a father telling his children, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
When our lives are in the clutches of the Enemy, no amount of church time, or prayer, or song, or worship of any kind will put us in favor with God. God wants devoted followers, not just church goers. He wants people who really love Him, not just those who say they do. God says, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. ” (Isaiah 1:16-17). He would have us to put our money where our mouth is so to speak.
The wonderful part about this is that if we turn from our sin in repentance, God is waiting to lavish His grace and forgiveness on us. God pleaded with the people in Isaiah’s day, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18). What a statement! And if this could be said during the days of the Old Covenant, how much more so today under the New Covenant of Christ.
While we may stumble as we try to walk the right path, if we devote ourselves to living faithfully to God, He will accept us—fully! He will call us His sons and daughters. And our worship, if it be in spirit and truth (John 4:24), will most certainly not be empty.