TEXTS AND APPLICATION: I suppose I need to be honest here. Sometimes believers, beginning with me, go through the motions of Christianity more than truly live Christianity. Such was the situation for the Hebrews in Isaiah 58. God told Isaiah to announce their sin like a trumpet blaring (Isaiah 58:1) — apparently because they needed a loud wake up call. Listen to His words to them:
2. But, their religious rituals — particularly, fasting, were only that: religious rituals. The people were inauthentic in their faith, assuming they could manipulate God by going through their motions.
Isaiah 58:3-4 “Why have we fasted, but You have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!”
In essence, the people thought their religion was a means to an end: if they followed the right rituals, God would be obligated to do their bidding. What they failed to realize is that God cannot be manipulated. He will not be used by a people who talk religious lingo and do religious stuff, but who then live in such a way that they oppress others and cause dissension. The God of the Bible expects our faith to be genuine, evident, and life-transforming. A true relationship with Him recognizes that rituals are not enough.
These texts remind me that one way to evaluate my walk with God is to ask, “Do I get frustrated with God when I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but still He does not respond to me?” If so, it might be that I’m depending more on rituals than on a relationship. I might need a trumpet-blaring wake up call.
PRAYER: Let’s pray together today for an honest evaluation of our Christian walk. Pray that our relationship with God would be genuine and deep — so deep, in fact, that we could trust Him even when He seems not to respond to our faithful observance of our rituals.
TOMORROW’S READING: Isaiah 59-63