Posted by: Brad Beaman | July 26, 2012

Are You Listening to God?

There used to be a television commercial. In it everyone was talking and involved in all sorts of activity. One man says my broker is E. F. Hutton and he says… all stopped to listen. The commercial said when E. F. Hutton talks people listen. see it here

This is a passage where God speaks. God speaks here of impending judgment, but with an appeal to repentance. The question is; when God talks do you listen?

Isaiah 1:2-20

Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3 The ox knows his master,
the donkey his owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand. ”
4 Ah, sinful nation,
a people loaded with guilt,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the LORD;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.
5 Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
your whole heart afflicted.
6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness —
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with oil.
7 Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
8 The Daughter of Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a field of melons,
like a city under siege.
9 Unless the LORD Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
10 Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11 “ What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who require of you this trampling of My courts?
13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
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.
16 “ Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“ Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
19 “ If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
20 “But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

We find those who turn a deaf ear to God. These verses read like a lawsuit. It is a covenant lawsuit. Israel has broken their covenant with God and they are on trial. The purpose is to restore the breeched covenant.

There is a specific indictment on the children of Israel. They have rebelled against God even though He cared for them as sons. Heaven and earth were called as witnesses to what God is saying to Israel. God’s gracious ways are stated. The rebellion of God’s people has broken His heart. God’s gracious ways are stated.

The people have rebelled against God. This is a strong Old Testament word for sin. Israel has sinned against God. Sin causes distortion. When we sin we see things from a distorted perspective. The tragedy is that because of their sin God’s people no longer see the need to live under his authority.

To illustrate this tragedy a proverb is used, verse 3. Even animals know their owners. Yet God’s people did not know him. There is an expression; it is just a dumb animal. The people are not even showing the gratitude to God that an ox would have for its owner. You have to ask a question here. Who is really dumb, God’s people or an animal?

There was a news story in modern Israel. In a raid on a drug caravan the drug smugglers fled the scene leaving their animals that were carrying the contraband. The agents let the animals get hungry to the point of starving and released them. They returned to their owners who were the fugitives how were apprehended.

We see in verse 4 that the indicted have turned their backs on God. They have become alienated to God. Not because God had left them, but because they had turned their back on Him.

What will it take to get the attention of a people bound in sin? In verses 5-6 it paints a picture of someone who has been flogged. They are a nation so bruised and battered that there is no new place for infliction. Their land has been pillaged because they turned their backs on God. Our un-confessed sin will also wreak havoc on our lives.

The people will be familiar with an agricultural image. During harvest time they build temporary shelters and then these were abandoned after harvest. They had violated that had bound them to God and they had become foreigners to God.

What is the meaning or your religion? Your love for God is measured in how you treat your fellow man. What really matters is how we stand before God. The test of this is how we relate to one another.

The children of Israel were failing this test according to Isaiah chapter one. Isaiah addressed the with harsh words. He was not out to win the most popular prophet of the year award. Few if any prophets were actually. Isaiah called them Sodom and Gomorrah which had become and still are proverbial expression for wickedness.

God is not impressed by their empty outward sacrifices. God condemns them. God’s people had an outward observance, but they lacked the inward meaning. This reminds us of Jesus calling the religious leaders whitewashed tombs. We need to be on the alert that our spirituality does not become outward and lose the inward meaning.

Because their spirituality was merely outward there was a barrier between God and his people. A person could look good, talk spiritual and not be right with God. God is not interested in your going through the motions. Your heart must be right in your spiritual service.

God is not opposing the sacrificial system for Israel. He established it. What God is opposing is empty meaningless religious pretence and hypocrisy. God will despise our worship if it is only external while our hearts are filled with sin as we go through the motions. Our worship needs to overflow from a pure heart.

God will not even hear their prayers. They may have their hands placed in a posture of prayer, but God will cover His eyes and put His fingers in His ears. God gives His people the ultimatum. Stop doing wrong! Start doing what is right!

There is a call to social responsibility. Encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.

God has a case against His people and He calls them to repent. This is an appeal for Israel, but it is an appeal to all sinners of all time. Come now! See the plan of God and what is offered. The forgiveness of sin. Put aside any false pretence. 

Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow. The deep stain that no human power can remove God can cleanse. If your sins are as red as crimson God can make you white as snow. God offers forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:

Are you listening to God?

Read more here In Christ Alone

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