[Jan 13]--When God Hates Your Worship

Isaiah 1:10-15

I remember reading one of the most shocking statements I ever read about worship a few years ago. Someone was writing about being bored in a worship service. The singing was boring, the announcements were boring, and the sermon was. . .well, you can guess. The guy writing this article says that he can almost imagine the Lord saying “You know, I think I’d rather be watching a Lakers game too.”

Sometimes I wonder about how God is reacting to our worship experience. Let’s be clear, though: If you’re bored, it’s quite possible that the problem is with you, not the leaders. If you haven’t been cultivating your personal worship time, your TAWG during the week, then don’t expect some wonderful time of meeting with him on Sunday morning. As one of my pastors liked to point out, your worship time on Sunday should be just a big continuation of what you’ve been doing during the week, except in a congregation.

But there is such a thing as a worship time which the Lord hates. I’m not talking about pagan worship or heretical worship. I don’t see anything in this passage that indicates that their theology was off in any significant degree. They'd been fulfilling the Law, at least as far as the ceremonies were concerned. He doesn’t complain about the lack of sacrifices or the lack of attendance at the religious festivals.

Before we go any further, we need to get past the notion that God is against rituals or ceremonies. I know that it’s popular to deride them or pretend that ritual=legalism. We aren’t required as New Covenant believers to observe the O.T. holy days, although I think it’s a great idea to be familiar with them, since they're shadows of the reality that is Christ. We need rituals. As Dennis Prager has noted, this is how the Jewish people have kept their identity and history over the last 4,000 years, despite everything that’s happened to them. If you don’t have rituals, you’ll forget the truth that’s been handed down to you. I mean, even in the Church Age we have what could easily qualify: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The words ritual and ceremony have bad connotations to modern ears, but they shouldn't.

But the problem here is that they were just going through the motions of worship. They were performing the sacrifices and ceremonies that God had commanded them to, but their hearts weren't into it at all. The shell was there, but the kernel was missing. There was no personal relationship with their Redeemer.

And the Lord hated it. He says that their religion was a “burden” to him. That’s the sad irony here: I’m sure the people who were participating in this “worship” were enjoying it about as much as a root canal, but the God who supposedly was the beneficiary, the object of this worship, was enjoying it even less.

You’ll see this again and again in the prophets. He hates to have people blatantly turning their backs on him, but he hates just as much—or maybe a little more—to see fake worship and hypocrisy.

But there’s a cure for this ailment. And that’s what we’ll look at tomorrow.

Father, I am so sorry for the times I’ve tried to impress others with my worship. There’s only One Person who I need to impress, and that’s you. Holy Spirit, please lift me up out of myself and into your presence. Thank you.

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