Presentation on theme: "Lesson 9 for August 27, 2011. Unlike every other religion, the religion of the Bible (both Testaments) teaches that salvation is by grace alone. Nothing."— Presentation transcript:
Lesson 9 for August 27, 2011
Unlike every other religion, the religion of the Bible (both Testaments) teaches that salvation is by grace alone. Nothing we do can ever make us good enough to be accepted by God. Our good deeds, however well-intended, however Spirit-inspired, can never bridge the gap that sin has caused between God and humanity. Only the death of Jesus credited to us by faith, only the righteousness of Christ, which He wrought out in His life, which is then given to all who truly accept it, can save the sinner. Does that mean that everything we do, we say and we think is related with our relationship with God? What do the prophets say about that?
God commanded the people of Israel a worship system through sacrifices, feasts, offerings, tithes and fasting. Nevertheless, the prophets in the Old Testament talked tough words about that ritual system. With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?...” (Micah, 6: 6-7) “Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting” (Isaiah, 1: 13) “Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.” (Jeremiah, 7: 4)) Why do the prophets talk against the rites ordered by God?
What was the people doing for God that didn't please God? Micah, 6: 6,7 Offering holocausts. Sacrificing one-year-old calves. Killing thousand of rams. Offering ten thousand rivers of oil. They were willing to offer any kind of sacrifices. Which were the conditions that would make those sacrifices pleasant to God? “He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you: But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah, 6: 8) We can properly worship God by following exactly what He commanded us. But He also command us to act with justice, mercy and humbleness. We can properly worship God by following exactly what He commanded us. But He also command us to act with justice, mercy and humbleness. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” ( Matthew 23: 23)
“He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah, 7: 19)
What was the people doing for God that didn't please God? Isaiah, 1: Sacrificing holocausts of rams. Burning fat of fed cattle. Pouring blood of bulls, lambs and goats. Giving offerings for the temple. Offering incense. Keeping New Moons, Sabbaths and solemn feasts. Which were the conditions that would make those sacrifices pleasant to God? “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do good; learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah, 1: 16-17) Although God instituted a system to worship Him, our attitude towards others is the most valuable for Him. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John, 4: 20)
What was the people doing for God that didn't please God? Isaiah, 58: 2-3 Seeking Him everyday. Knowing His ways. Claiming right judgments. They wanted to come close to God. Fasting, and afflicting their souls. Which were the conditions that would make those sacrifices pleasant to God? Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?... If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness; if you extend your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul…” (Isaiah, 58: 6-10)
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’… Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah, 58: 8-11)
What was the people doing for God that did NOT please God? Jeremiah, 7: 8-10 Which were the conditions that would make them pleasant to God? Just don't think that because we go to the temple or because our names are recorded in the books of the church we can live as we want the rest of the week. Although salvation is only by grace, all our lives must be consistent with what we believe. Trusting in lying words. Stealing. Murdering. Committing adultery. Swearing falsely. Burning incense to Baal. Walking after other gods. They thought that it was enough to go to the temple to be saved. “For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt” (Jeremiah, 7: 5,6) “Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these” (Jeremiah, 7: 4)
“Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!’. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place… I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever” (Jeremiah, 7: 2-3,7)
What was the people doing for God that did NOT please God? Isaiah, 44: 9-20 Which were the conditions that would make them pleasant to God? Worshiping idols. “Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I have formed you, you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins; Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah, 44: 21-22) “As the worshipers of the true and living God we should bear fruit corresponding to the light and privileges we enjoy. Many are worshiping idols instead of the Lord of heaven and earth. Anything that men love and trust in instead of loving the Lord and trusting wholly in Him becomes an idol and is thus registered in the books of heaven” E.G.W. (Reflecting Christ, April 6) “He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (Isaiah, 44: 16-17)
The Lord, He alone is the Creator, He alone is our Redeemer, He alone can save us, thus He alone is worthy of our worship and our praise. Isaiah mocks those who create idols with their own hands, gods of their own making, and then bow down and worship them—things that are, indeed, “profitable for nothing. And yet, as silly and as foolish as all that seems to us, are we not in danger of doing something similar, of dedicating ourselves, our lives, our time, and our energy into things that, in the end, are “profitable for nothing,” that cannot answer the deepest need of our souls now, and that surely cannot redeem us from the grave at the end of time? How crucial that we watch and pray..
After comparing the worship experience of king Uzziah and prophet Isiah, we can understand which is the personal attitude God requests when worshiping Him. We see an attitude of repentance in the example of Isaiah; willingness to recognize the own sinfulness and its need of grace. King Uzziah entered the temple to offer incense to God, but that only priests were able to do that. Uzziah thought that he was worthy of being before the Holy God. God punished Uzziah with leprosy (symbol of sin) and he was unable to perform his duties as king since then. Isaiah saw a vision of the throne of God while being in the courtyard of the temple. Isaiah felt he was completely unworthy of being at the presence of the Holy God, since he was a sinner. Isaiah's sin was forgiven and God prepared him to carry His message since then.
Think for a moment what our worship services would be like were they to elicit in the worshipers a sense that they have been in the presence of our Holy God, which in turn makes them deeply aware of their own sinfulness and need of His saving grace and cleansing power. Imagine if the singing, the liturgy, the prayer, and the preaching worked together in a way to lead us each time to faith, to repentance, to cleansing, and to a willingness to cry out, “Here I am; send me.” That is what worship should be about..