Isaiah 1:10-20; 13, 18
"Come now let's reason together..." (Isa 1:18) "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies" (Isa 1:13, NIV).
"I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly" (Isa 1:13b, ESV).
"I cannot stand iniquity with a festival" (Isa 1:13b, HCSB).
"...they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings" (Isa 1:13b, NLT).
Theme: Worship with iniquity or without repentance or justice for the oppressed displeases God who says, "Your hands are full of blood" (Isa 1:15, NIV).
Key question: Why is God so angry and upset with religious rituals when he commanded rituals in Leviticus?
Answer: Ritual is intended to be symbolic of our (inner) heart condition. The real indicator of our heart condition is how we treat one another, especially those who cannot repay us!
Recap--How Stupid Can You Be! This was my intentionally provocative title for Isaiah 1:1-9. Isaiah claims that even dumb animals like the ox and donkey know better than to behave like this (Isa 1:3). Isaiah used farm animals that the listeners could identify with to make this logical point from common experience more persuasive. This likely drew a smile from his listeners because almost everyone in his audience could tell stories about being unable to handle their stubborn ox or their stupid idiot donkey. Yet they all knew that these dumb animals were smart enough to realize that if they wanted to eat they had to come home and behave...at least when they were hungry. Although they were sometimes unwilling to submit to authority (like God's people and the church), they maintained their relationship with their owner. But in sharp contrast, the dumber Israelites who were "my people" did not seem to "know" that they should maintain their covenant relationship with God. Are there not Christians today who make unwise willful and sinful decisions--sometimes repeatedly--that make their pets look like genuises?