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The Story of Rebellion - Isa 1:1-20

God's Story, My Story  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Big Idea: Turn your story from rebellion to renewal.

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Isaiah 1:1–20 ESV
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, 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 become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
We are in our series, “God’s Story, My Story...” and we are learning to find our place in GOD’S unfolding story of salvation through Jesus Christ.
I hope that you are starting to realize that your story is a lot bigger than the span of your life...
Ephesians 1 says that God chose those who are his before the foundations of the world…
Which means that our stories are really God’s story… and God’s story is our story...
Our stories don’t start with our birthdate… they START all the way back at the beginning… in … the story of everything…
We began this series with THIS thought: your story begins with a good God who created everything by his word.
And we saw from the outset that the central truth in the story is wrapped up in the distinction between CREATOR… and CREATION.
That God is God and everything else is not. Everything is nothing without God.
And when we get that distinction right, life is GOOD… and when we get that distinction wrong… and WE try to be God… or we try to CREATE gods that we can control… life will unravel very quickly...
Tragically... we don’t get out of the first three chapters of the Bible before we see that unraveling… our story is a story of falleness...
We see that sin destroys everything in our story… the rest of the story is one of mankind’s REBELLION against God… their desire to be like God… to replace him...
And that’s a theme that comes up again and again and again in the unfolding story of God’s salvation…
It’s where we come to again today: the title of today’s sermon: The Story of Rebellion.
We all have to acknowledge that within ALL of our fallen hearts is a capacity for rebellion.
Just consider that word “rebellion” for a second:
It’s a pretty strong word… it makes me think of things militias that overthrow their government...
Or of teenagers who runaway from home and who break every household rule...
I have a mental picture of riots destroying cities...
Rebellion is a word we often reserve for the “worst” type of sin… however we personally grade sin…
So maybe you hear this word rebellion and are like, “Yeah, that’s not my story… I wouldn’t consider myself a REBEL against God...
I TRY to be a good person… I TRY to be nice to other people… I read my Bible occasionally… I’m pretty regular in my church attendance...”
And sure I sin sometimes, but compared to other people, my sins are pretty small potatoes.
I guess I have a few vices… but don’t we all?
And so to use this word “Rebellion” can sometimes feel a little extreme to us.
But we need to understand this: the nature of SIN is rebellion… it’s standing up against God and his way…
It’s an attempt to throw off his authority and act like the creation is greater than the creator…
And so to confess that I am a sinner is to confess a heart PRONE to rebellion… to confess that actual rebellion has occured in my life.
Listen: We cannot TRULY experience renewal in our stories until we recognize that truth.
And I hope that many of us here today are NOT in a place of outright rebellion… stiff arming God and running the opposite direction...
Some people here probably are in that place. I don’t claim to know your heart… I don’t know who is in that place and who is not…
But we ALL need to be aware of our own capacity for rebellion… so that we can turn from that rebellion and seek the renewal of God.
But we need to be aware of our own capacity for rebellion...
That’s our BIG IDEA for today:
It’s an attempt to throw off his authority and act like the creation is greater than the creator…
but as we’ve been saying since , God promises to cover and conquer sin for those who turn to him.
So as we consider today our own capacity for rebellion, I want to urge you… wherever you see sin...

Big Idea: Turn from contaminating rebellion to cleansing renewal.

I want to recap the story briefly… part of our goal in this series is that you would be REALLY familiar with the contours of the storyline of the BIble… so I want to spend this time reminding you of where we’ve been each week...
As we moved on from the moment of the Fall into sin in the Garden of Eden described in … we saw God’s relentless pursuit to cleanse and renew a rebellious people...
Rebellion continued to be the hallmark of mankind’s story while God continued to make gracious promises.
Right out of the gate in , as he is delivering the curse because of mankind’s sin, we saw God promise one who would conquer the serpent who lured us into rebellion…
and we saw him cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve…
We saw God make and renew his promises Noah… and then to the patriarchs of Israel… Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s 12 sons… despite the fact that they were often faithless and very sinful...
They tried to act like God… they didn’t do things God’s way… but he still renewed his covenant promises to them…
We saw him make a very special and unique covenant with the nation of Isreal… only for them to forsake that covenant over and over through the wilderness… and then through the time of the judges...
And then when they ultimately rebelled against God as their King and demanded a human king just like the other nations, we saw God eventually give Israel a king who was after his own heart: King David.
We learned last week that David was a human king who was also a servant… a human representative of God’s authority over the nation.
David was not to REPLACE God’s authority, but to REPRESENT God’s authority to the nation.
And as long as David and his sons kept representing God, God promised to bless them..
But wherever they sinned against God and broke his covenant, God would discipline them… but there would come a king from David’s line who would sit on David’s throne forever.
That’s where we left off last week… so just to bring you up to speed for where we are at today:
David does OK following after God… he does turn to the Lord again and again and finishes faithful to him...
But along the way commits some pretty heinous sins against God...
One of those sins is adultery with a woman named Bathsheba…
And his relationship with her eventually results in a son named Solomon…
Solomon becomes the next king of Israel… and he starts out well...
He builds a temple for God that is beautiful and that God accepts…
But he finishes really poorly… he marries 700 women...
I performed ONE wedding yesterday… I think that’s enough for both the bride and groom...
Solomon marries 700!!! And these just aren’t any women… they are women from other nations that serve other gods…
And so Solomon starts worshiping their gods too...
He sets up a high places for all these wives to worship their different gods...
So God does as he promises… he disciplines Solomon and his sons after him...
He raises up adversaries, and he promises that his son will receive a divided kingdom...
So just one and a half generations after David, we ALREADY have a broken kingdom… [show map]
10 tribes join together to become the NORTHERN Kingdom… that’s called Israel…
Often when you read “ISRAEL in the prophets or in 1&2 Kings, it is talking about these 10 tribe in the North… this northern kingdom.
The nation of Israel had 12 patriarchs… which meant 12 tribes...
12-10=2… that means 2 tribes in the south… Judah and Benjamin… form the SOUTHERN Kingdom… that’s called Judah...
Judah… the Southern Kingdom... is where the line of David continues to rule...
Judah has some good kings, some bad kings… Israel has ALL bad kings...
Which is an important thing to understand as you read in this part of the story… The Kings are evaluated in three ways in the books of Kings:
The Kings are evaluated in three ways:
1) Do they START OUT their reign doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord?
2) Do they FINISH their reign doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord?
3) Do the high places of worship to other gods get set up, remain, or are they removed.
And we come to learn that as goes the king, so goes the nation under their leadership...
the nation just follows along with whatever the king is telling them to do...
That is all except for the prophets.
All during this time, God is working to get his people’s attention through the prophets.
Some prophets are sent to the Northern Kingdom… some to the southern kingdom.
We call 4 of these the major prophets because we have more of their message in the scriptures...
The other 12 are called the minor prophets because their messages are shorter in the scirptures.
And to understand the prophets, you have to remember that they show up during the reigns of different kings...
I put a chart in your notes… that’s more for reference for you to keep in your Bible whenever you are reading the prophets…
But it shows you when the prophets served, where they served, and what kings were reigning at that time.
But no matter when they prophesied, their messages are all pretty similar: 1) judgement is coming from God, and 2) There is hope if you repent.
So now... as your Bibles are open to the book of Isaiah... we realize that Isaiah is one of those prophets.
He prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah under the reign of 4 different kings...
Take a look at [Read]
So Isaiah prophecies during the reign of these 4 kings… and a little bit into the reign of King Manasseh as well...
And chapters 1-5 serve as a prologue to his prophecies…
They give a general overview of what is happening during the reign of all four of these kings… and how God feels about that...
It’s not a super pretty picture of what is going on in the nation at that time…
Which is interesting, because if you read the evaluation of these four kings over in the book of 2 Kings, you find out that they aren’t THAT bad...
Ahaz was REALLY bad...
But the other three… Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah… did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.
And what we are about to read is a pretty serious indictment… God’s pretty upset… so if these were good kings, what has God so worked up?
We come to find out in 2 Kings that Uzziah and Jotham failed to remove the high places from Israel.
They allowed the worship of the one true God to be mixed with the worship of the many gods of the surrounding nations.
And that… God says… is rebellion on behalf of the nation.
Look with me at verse 2 [Read ]
As their Kings are doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord, the nation of Israel could take this prophecy from Isaiah and think, “What’s God so worked up about?”
Sure we have a few idols… sure we sin sometimes… but doesn’t everybody?
I don’t know that I would call this REBELLION… compared to other generations… and compared to the Northern Kingdom of Israel... we seem to be doing pretty well!!!
But they had taken some decisive steps into contaminating rebellion… and they needed to turn to God’s cleansing renewal. So as we work through verses 2-20 today, I want us to see…

3 Steps into Contaminating Rebellion:

1) Forsaking the Authority of God (1:2-4)

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken...
Explain: God is calling heaven and earth to witness against his people...
This takes us all the way back to … in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...
The CREATOR is the JUDGE and PROSECUTOR calling his WHOLE CREATION to the heavenly courtroom to hear the case he has against his people.
He is the only one with the authority to do that!
And this is his charge: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.
Parents… stop and think about the pain of what he is saying here.
You pour out your life for your kid… you do your best to provide them with rules and structure that are for their own good… You take care of their needs…
And they rebel. They reject your rules and your discipline.
They do and say hurtful things…
It’s PAINFUL… and that’s what God’s people have done to him…
think about what God is saying as he describes their rebellion… the rejection he feels in that… the grief… the pain of that...
And the source of their rebellion is this: they have forsaken his authority...
He gives two examples of creatures who obediently respond to the one in authority: The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (, ESV)
The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” (, ESV)
He’s like: An ox knows that when the farmer directs him in a certain way, his job is to go that way…
The farmer comes into the pasture, the ox run toward him…
A child needs to be raised… instructed… disciplined… provided for...
The farmer drives the ox in a certain direction, the ox goes that way…
An ox knows the one who feeds it and provides shelter...
A donkey knows that his MASTER… the one in authority… is also the source of life… he’s the one who puts the hay in the manger…
But the thing that is so simple for these barn animals to understand is apparently beyond the capacity for God’s children to understand.
They can’t see that the one who created them… the one who rescued them from slavery and made them a nation… the one who provides for their needs… IS ALSO the one who is in charge of their lives.
In modern terms, we might say, “They bite the hand that feeds them.”
And God says, “THIS IS CONTAMINATING REBELLION!”
And this, God says, is REBELLION!
Verse 4 - “Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, [that’s the contaminating guilt of sin]... offspring of evildoers, [all the way back to Adam and Eve themselves]… children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.” (, ESV)
He doesn’t go into much detail here, but the three most common sins addressed by the prophets during the times of the Kings were:
Alliances - They trusted other nations instead of God...
Oppression - They used wealth and power in self-serving ways that did not God’s heart… like caring for the vulnerable.
Idolatry - they worshipped the idols of the nations around them alongside the worship of God.
They were forsaking the authority of God. They were forgetting who was in charge.
They have
Illustrate: Kids and teens, let me ask you this: “Who did God put in charge in your house?” [Mom and Dad]
Illustrate:
Isaiah doesn’t get specific here, but the three most common sins that Judah and Israel committed were;
Worshiping idols...
Abusing power to oppress the vulnerable...
Making alliances with foreign nations instead of trusting God…
And if we saw a teenager doing that, we would have no problem saying, “That’s wrong. They are rebelling against their parents authority.”
But sometimes
And this was no small matter… it’s rebellion.
And it all came back to forgetting who was in charge.
They worshiped idols because they forgot that God was the creator and not like the creation.
They abused power to oppress the vulnerable because they forgot THEY were once vulnerable and needed to be rescued.
They made alliances with foreign nations because they forgot how God delivered them again and again when they turned to him in faith.
We are going to see that they kept up worship practices that the covenant described like nothing was wrong…
Illustrate: Kids, do you ever forget who is in charge in your house? Let me ask you this, kids: “Who did God put in charge in your house?” [Mom and Dad]
But God calls it rebellion.
[Mom and Dad]
And what happens if you forget that? Consequences… discipline...
Consequences… discipline...
Now, it comes with
And what happens if, say you had a rule of no throwing balls in the house, and you threw a ball and broke a lamp… and the excuse you gave was, “I forgot.”
Would that get you out of those consequences? [No]
And they are the ones God has given the responsibility to raise you so that you would glorify him.
Like say you had a rule of no throwing balls in the house and you threw a ball and broke a lamp… and you say, “I threw the ball because I forgot.”
Does that mean that you didn’t violate the rule? [No]
In our house, we say, “Forgetting is not an excuse for sinning.”
And if your parents don’t discipline you, you are going to think that conveniently forgetting the one who is in charge is your way out of the rules that help your household run.
Now parents, what happens if you don’t deal with that in their early years?
You have bigger problems
Apply: Listen… our story quickly becomes a story of rebellion when we forsake who is TRULY in charge.
We can tend to “forget” who is in charge. We forsake the authority of God. And we fall into the EXACT same traps as the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
It’s kind of like we have the same sin nature or something… so we make...
Alliances - When God doesn’t give us what we want or what we think we need, we cut corners and we go to where we think we can get it.
This could be friendships or business partnerships…
Teens… maybe it’s a boy or girl that you like that you would do ANYTHING to date them even though they don’t follow Jesus.
That is one of the most dangerous alliances you can make
For us adults… we see this more and more in every field of vocation: finding a life coach where you can “get their secrets to success” that maybe SOUNDS like God’s way, but really isn’t.
Not all coaches are bad… I have a coach through the GCC and he points me again and again to Jesus… and Christ’s way for ministry...
But a lot of coaches use spiritual terms… even sometimes CHRISTIAN terms… to point you to goals that do not have God’s glory at the center.
There’s this guy who comes up on my social media feed every once in a while… a sponsored ad... and he has some videos that are called something like “Preaching from the Beach” and “Lessons from a Lambo...”
And it’s all positive self-help stuff… the end goal is how much can you do to make yourself feel great, look great, be successful, etc.
And many Christians would be like, “But he used the word PREACHING!!!” I’ve even seen him affirms the idea of “Jesus” if that’s the spiritual ideal that gets you going toward success in your life.
That’s just one example… there are MANY similar messages dressed up in even more spiritual language.
We need to consider who we are following and who we are trusting… watch out for alliances...
We shouldn’t only consider, “Are they ‘successful’ in their field, but are they following God’s ways and going after God’s goals and GOD’s GLORY.
- Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.
The ones who we should align ourselves with… and seek help from… are those who walk in a godly manner… who speak God’s word to us… who show us what a life of faith looks like.
Be careful about your alliances. A lot of times we use alliances for self-glory, not God’s glory, which leads us to:
Oppression - We use wealth and power for self-promotion instead of caring for the vulnerable like God does.
Alot of times the Prophets called this “neglecting justice” or “perverting justice” - it was failing to give people their rights… failing to honor the basic human dignity in every person created in the image of God.
Over and over again, God’s law charged Israel to care for the vulnerable: the fatherless, the widow, and the sojourner… today we would call them the refugee or alien.
Over and over again, God’s law charged Israel to care for the vulnerable: the fatherless, the widow, and the sojourner… today we would call them the refugee or alien.
And this was because that was God’s heart… God cared for them when they were slaves in Egypt under severe oppression...
Israel was to reflect this heart of God when he brought them into the land and made them dwell secure… but instead they perverted justice and allowed the powerful to gain more and more glory and the weak to be trampled upon.
Often this was as simple as withholding their resources from people in need who were in their sphere of influence. Oppression is not just doing harm to the vulnerable… it’s also withholding good from them.
And we sometimes do this in self-righteous ways, “Well, if they just worked harder… or if they just obeyed the law...”
And God is saying, “Is that how I dealt with you? I waited until you picked yourself up by your bootstraps and then I cared for you?”
It’s rebellion against the heart of God. And often that rebellion of oppression is fueled by our love for our...
We forsaking the … so start worshipping the idols of our heart.
Idols - We don’t have high places or little statues… but an idol is anything that captures your devotion and trust instead of God.
We don’t have high places or little statues… but an idol is anything that captures your devotion and trust instead of God.
Our idol could be our job… living for the paycheck or the status or even just the fulfillment of working…
It could be our bank account… or retirement plan... that’s where we find our security and hope...
Our idol could be our health or our physical appearance… we spend so much brain power and even money on counting the calories or watching the scale...
Our idols could be our homes… or a possession…
We could make an idol out of our family...
Or our job… living for the paycheck or the status or even just the fulfillment of working...
Our idol could be our health or our physical appearance...
Any good thing that we allow to rise to the level of a GOD thing... instead of using it in God’s way to serve him.
We forget that our greatest good is found in his greatest glory… and so we make idols out of the things we love instead of God.
And our hearts are soooo subtle to slip into these forms of idolatry…
I want you to understand: Israel didn’t stop going to the temple in order to go to the high places during the time of Isaiah.
The worship of their idols was right alongside their attempted worship of God. We will get to that more later...
On the surface, they felt like they were worshiping God just fine, even while entertaining the idols of their heart.
So we need to check our hearts: are there any alliances leading us away from going after GOD’S ways and trusting him alone?
Are there any ways that we are abusing our power to oppress or withhold from those in need…
Are there any idols in our lives?
Listen… if it’s there… even if it is alongside the religious motions of worshiping God… if it has captured our hearts, we are writing a story of rebellion.
And God will discipline his children. He will work to get our attention...
For Israel, their hearts were so numb to their rebellion that when the discipline came, they ignored the consequences of sin.
That’s the second step into rebellion.

2) Ignoring the Consequences of Sin (1:7-9)

Read
Explain: God is saying in verse 7: Do you not SEE what your rebellion has gotten you? All your alliances… all your oppression… all your idols… they are not rescuing you from my discipline.
Illustrate: He uses a bunch of illustrations to help them see their situation clearly:
They are like A diseased body - As a nation, their sin has become the bubonic plague, leaving them with festering sores and wounds.
They are like A desolate country - Judah was eventually overthrown by the empire of Babylon, but before that, the Assyrian empire attacked her again and again.
So think about when you see war torn countries on the news… like Iraq or Syria… the conditions are terrible...
The consequences of Israel’s sin were right in front of them… The writing was on the wall.
Then he says the daughter of Zion (that’s a reference to Judah and the capital of Jerusalem) is like a booth in a vineyard, a lodge in a cucumber field...
These were temporary dwellings… shacks… where workers and guards would have stayed to work in and watch the field… but then quickly abandoned when the job was done...
Judah would soon be abandoned as her citizens were led off to captivity.
They are like a a besieged city… cut off from resources and supplies...
And then the worst illustration of all: If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.
To a Jew, these cities represented the worst of Gentile sin.
It was unthinkable to compare the nation of Israel to them, no matter how bad their sin was.
But even with all of these consequences, back to verse 7, God says, “Why will you STILL be struck down? Why will you CONTINUE to rebel?”
Apply: This is such a natural tendency of the human heart: Even when our sin results in consequences, we often just double-down with more sin.
Our alliances don’t get us where we want and they leave us feeling anxious and forsaken… so we try even harder to please them...
Or we look for other alliances that promise to be better than the last one we went to.
Or in our oppression - God removes our wealth or our status because we failed to use it to care for the people around us…
And we just work harder to get more power and trample anyone in our path to get there.
Maybe God works to destroy the idols of our heart…
he takes away a job or health or family member who had become ultimate to us...
And we just replace it with another idol.
Are you feeling the consequence of sin? If so, don’t stick your head in the sand about it.
God is working to get your attention.
He doesn’t want you to run away from his discipline… he wants you to run TO HIM for cleansing.
I’m not saying that everything we experience is a direct consequence of our sin, but we should regularly be checking our hearts… and in doing so, going to God to confess and be cleansed of our sin.
A good rhythm is this: Every time we come before God in worship, we should take an opportunity to confess any known sin to God.
Israel was not doing this… they had forsaken God’s authority through the covenant… they had ignored the consequences of sin… and that led them to this third step:

3) Neglecting the Heart of Worship (Isaiah 1:10-15)

Read
Explain: So alongside all their alliances with other nations and oppression of the vulnerable and idolatry, Judah just kept up their weekly worship and yearly worship practices.
They made all the sacrifices… they brought all the offerings.
They worshiped God in ritual and practice… but their lifestyle and priorities made clear that their hearts were far from God.
And God’s like, “ENOUGH!!!”
I don’t need to eat your rams and beasts.... I’m not satisfied by the blood of these sacrifices… because you are not really seeking the cleansing that they represent!
Your worship services are just a trampling of my courts.
Listen, it’s not that God didn’t want them to bring right sacrifices with the right heart according to the law… he’s the one who told them to do it in the first place.
It’s that they were going through all the motions of worship without truly seeking to exalt God.
Illustrate: This would be like God saying to a church today:
What to me is the multitude of your offerings? I don’t need your money if it doesn’t come with a heart that realizes EVERYTHING belongs to me!
I’ve had enough of your heartless singing… it’s just noise in my ears because it doesn’t come from a heart captivated with me.
I’ve had enough of your taking communion: I don’t delight in you merely eating a piece of bread and drinking a cup of juice without truly trusting the sacrifice it represents.
When you come to appear before me, who has required that you merely trample on the floorboards of this building or that your bottom warms the seat? Stop going through the motions!
I can’t stand the way you come to church every Sunday out of ritual without remembering all that I’ve done for you!
Your so-called fellowship meals are a burden to me because I’m not at the center of it.
Your prayers ramble on, but they are lifeless.
You ask for things YOU are concerned about, but not things that I’m concerned about.
Your prayers are a vain repetition of things you’ve said since childhood.
I’m not listening anymore.
Apply: The thought of God evaluating our gatherings that way should be DEVASTATING to us!!!
And I’m not saying that God is right now saying that to you or to our church… but search your heart: Is there any way your worship has just been going through the motions? Have you neglected the heart of worship?
Has your offering to God lacked the heart God desires?
When you sing, do you sing like the God of the universe is truly listening and delighting in your praise?
When you pray… or you are led in prayer by someone else… do you remember that you are talking to your Father who is in heaven whose name is holy and whose kingdom is ultimate?
When you give your tithes and offerings, do you just unthinkingly slip the check in the bag because, “That’s what I’ve always done,” instead of using it as an opportunity to worship God and acknowledge that HE owns all things and will care for you.
When you listen to God’s word, do you lean in because HE is the one who has spoken?
And then throughout the week: is your heart constantly seeking to bring glory to God with everything that you do?
We MUST tend to our heart CONSTANTLY if we are going to worship God properly.
Going through the motions of worship may not seem like a big deal to us… but to God, it’s rebellion.
And his goal for Israel is not that they would stop worshiping… he wants them to stop if they are going to keep doing it the same way they’ve always done it...
But his goal for Israel is that they would return to the true heart of worship.
And so he calls them to a response: Read 1:16-20
When we see the steps of rebellion in our lives, there is only one reasonable response:

One Response: Turn from contaminating rebellion to cleansing renewal.

Explain: When God says, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean,” God is calling them to the TRUE cleansing that he had offered them through the covenant law.
God had given them sacrifices and cleansing rites for them to acknowledge that their sin defiled them… it caused death… and blood had to be shed.
Seek purity
It was really all that same worship that they were doing earlier… only now he wanted them to truly get to the heart of what it meant!
As they laid their knife to the throat of a bull or lamb, they were SUPPOSED to remember that the sacrifice was dying for them… that their sin had brought on iniquity… iniquity is the guiltiness of sin… and as the blood spilled out, it should have been a moment of cleasing renewal for them...
Not just mystically… or in theory... but practically… causing heart level change that showed up in their lives.
It was a time to take inventory.. my sin is evil… I’m going to cease to do evil and learn to do good.
So God tells them: seek justice and correct oppression… bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widows cause.
They were to turn from their oppression and idolatry and start doing what is right.
Their spiritual cleansing in the temple was to lead to PRACTICAL cleansing in their lives.
And God is calling them back to this. As the Heavens and the earth in v. 2 hear the case of the Lord, he offers a plea deal… “come let us reason together… though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Our sin is as red as the blood pouring from the sacrificial lamb… they leave a stain that is impossible to get out on our own...
But God is promising total cleansing… and in less than 1000 years he would send his son to be the sacrificial lamb of God who not only took away the sins of Israel, but the sins of the whole world.
Jesus is how we are cleansed of sin. For those of us who turn from their sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation:
He died in our place… he took on the crimson stain of our sin… his blood flowed for OUR sin as he died on a cross…
and where our sin had left an unremovable stain, he washed us white as snow.
That is the ONLY way to seek cleansing renewal.
Any other way is just more rebellion.
We can’t hide it… we can’t cover it up… we can’t go to other alliances or idols to get rid of the guilt we have…
JESUS. Only Jesus.
And it starts with confessing our sin. says, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)
Maybe for the first time today you need to say to God, “God, I see it. I see my rebellion. I’m turning to you for the cleansing renewal that only you can provide. I believe Jesus is the only way to salvation. I believe that he is the Lord over all.. that he is the one who created me and deserves the devotion of my entire life. I’m turning to you.”
God delights in that faith.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (ESV)
And maybe you have come to that understanding: that God is your Savior and Lord...
But today you’ve seen some of these steps of rebellion in your own life…
Maybe you’ve forsaken God’s authority in alliances or oppression/self-centered living… maybe you’ve just been going through motions of worship and neglected the heart of it all…
turn… turn to Jesus… he IS your cleansing renewal.
There is blessing in obedience. And there is peril in running from him.
So the worship team is going to come… and I want to give you some time with the Lord…
Look for the steps into rebellion in your life… all sin is rebellion… and turn to the cleansing renewal of Jesus…
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