This morning I started reading through the Book of Isaiah. God has impressed this on my heart as of late and so I began. I have now read chapter 1 in five different translations and read through Matthew Henry’s Commentary. I am struck dumb with the heaviness and disgust God feels for our sin and our practice of religion. Each translation I read the verbiage was strong and struck a hefty punch with its pungent tones. A few examples
Isaiah 1 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
13 Stop bringing useless offerings.
I despise [your] incense.
New Moons and Sabbaths,
and the calling of solemn assemblies
I cannot stand iniquity with a festival.
14 I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals.
They have become a burden to Me;
I am tired of putting up with [them].
Isaiah 1 (New Living)
13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
and your special days for fasting—
they are all sinful and false.
I want no more of your pious meetings.
14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
And this is just two of the translations. These are some pretty hard words from our God. He wants nothing to do with our religious practices. He longs for hearts that love Him, that desire to be in relationship with Him. Forget the brunt offerings, and the incenses, they are a noxious stench in His nostrils.
This coming Sunday the Body of believers I belong to will walk through the process of a Solemn Assembly, one of the things in verse 13 that God says He despises when done for the mere practice of a religious festival. Preparing my heart for this, allowing for a contrite spirit, one that has been softened by Him, ready to participate in the repentance process of corporate and personal sin, has been a very difficult process.
Last week I began “tanning” at a tanning booth as my husband and I are going on a tropical vacation in just a few weeks. If you’ve ever been in a tanning booth, there is not much to do in there. So it seemed to me a good place to pray. I will tell you that my experience in the tanning booth, standing before God, unclothed, with my hands placed in handles above my head has been the most intimate of prayer times. I have spent time laying prostate before God in prayer and yet this was something so much more. My heart was prepared for the Leadership Retreat we had as we prepare the way for the Solemn Assembly.
It is my utmost desire to relinquish ALL forms of religious practices and lay my heart bare before Him, to trade my crimson robes for His that are as white as wool. I like what verse 27 has to say and it is what I long for: 27 Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness.
Looking forward to being revived by His righteousness!