Category Archives: Daily-ish Thoughts

Meditations on a verse or some verses from the Bible that jump out at me during my daily reading.

I Will Tear You To Pieces…

So when you stretch out your hands in prayer, I will turn my eyes away from you. Even though you offer many prayers, I will not listen because your hands are covered with blood. “Wash yourselves! Become clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing evil.

Consider this, you people who forget God. Otherwise, I will tear you to pieces, and there will be no one left to rescue you. Whoever offers thanks as a sacrifice honors me. I will let everyone who continues in my way see the salvation that comes from God.”

(Isaiah 1:15-16, Psalm 50:22-23)

When we pray to God, what are we offering Him? In Isaiah chapter 1, the Israelites were offering God the same animal sacrifices that they had been offering since God himself had instituted this bloody system of worship after the Jewish exodus from Egypt. So why were these sacrifices no longer acceptable? Firstly, they no longer had any meaning to the people. It was simply a case of business as usual – this is something we are supposed to do, so let’s get it done. Instead of prostrating themselves before the Lord and weeping at the fact that their sinfulness required the blood of another life to atone for, they killed a few animals out of habit, said the required prayers, and got on with their lives.

And their lives were evil.

Evil. What is that?

Ultimately, evil is not realizing that we are an absolute abomination before the Holy God who created us. Evil is thinking that we are good enough by our own efforts to please God and reach His standards. Evil is forgetting God, and many who call themselves Christians and faithfully attend church multiple times a week have forgotten God.

We carry on with our lives – putting our own desires, comfort and wisdom first. We go to church like good little believers, put our 10% in the bag, and think we are all that and a bag of chips. Sundays and maybe Wednesday evenings we check the right boxes, say our genuinely heartfelt prayers for the poor, suffering world we live in, and think that the rest of the week is ours to fornicate with as we please.

Our Christianity is no longer about God and who He is and what He has done for us. It is about us and who we are and what we can do for ourselves. Our Christianity stinks, because the hands we lift up in prayer are covered with the blood of our own efforts, rather than the blood of the perfect Lamb. Our sacrifice is detestable to God, and He makes it very clear to us what He is going to do with us.

He will tear us to pieces, and there will be no one left to rescue us.

Thankfully, the answer to the problem is as clearly described to us as the problem is.

Wash… become clean… stop doing evil… offer a sacrifice of thanks… continue in God’s way rather than our own ways. God provided Himself as the only acceptable sacrifice. Only God meets God’s standards, and only God was able to survive the punishment due to anyone who can’t meet His standards. Trusting in the Way that God provided for our salvation IS the only way to salvation.

If we go before God with anything in our hearts and minds other than Jesus, He will turn His eyes away from us. Our hands are covered in the wrong blood. But when we turn and follow the Way, and go before God with empty hands and a heart full of thanksgiving, He will show us salvation.

(The doubter) said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am The Way, and The Truth, and The Life. The only way to the Father is through me.

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Whom Should We Fear?

For this is what the Lord said to me with great power, to keep me from going the way of this people: Do not call everything an alliance these people say is an alliance. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the LORD of Hosts as holy. Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe.

(Isaiah 8:11-13)

It is always essential to at least try to understand the context of a verse of the Bible before blithely applying it in any which way. However even when some verses have a very clear primary historical context, it is often still reasonable to apply some if not all of the concepts in a contemporary way as well. Many Biblical principles are introduced to us through historical narrative, and the fact that they are being applied to a specific situation does not mean that they are not generally applicable as well. So what have we got in these three verses that I read in Isaiah this morning?

We have God talking to His prophet Isaiah about how he should deal with what he sees happening to the people all around him. The Israelite people of the Kingdom of Judah are afraid they are going to get severely thumped by the allied armies of Israel and Syria, and their King Ahaz is stubbornly trusting in his own alliance with the Assyrians to protect them rather than trusting in God. So God tells His faithful prophet Isaiah to keep trusting in God’s wisdom rather than blindly follow the direction that the rest of the people are taking.

The first thing that struck me is that God spoke to Isaiah withe great power. Basically, whenever God whispers – we should listen with all our might. What, then, ought we do when God jumps up and down and roars at us? As a Christian, I know that God is right and that (in comparison) everyone else around me is wrong. I know that – but I still often listen to others more than I listen to God! I must be crazy.

As I look around this country I live in, I see turmoil everywhere. Regardless of political or religious belief, it seems that nearly everyone is looking to a Barack Obama or a Ron Paul or a Rick Warren or a Joel ‘Oprah’ Osteen to tell them what is going on and what to do about it. Christian or not, it sadly seems as if we are all placing our hope in the wisdom of certain leaders within our society. Perhaps Christians think that they are trusting God through certain political or church elite. They have faith that the person they have faith in has faith in God.

Well it’s time for us to cut out the middle (wo)man and return to a direct, abiding, personal faith in God Himself. Great and terrible things are going to be happening closer and closer to home here in America. The world at large is reeling from shock after shock, and America is slowly waking up to the fact that these things that are happening MEAN something. 9/11 was devastating, but compared to the natural disasters that are steadily increasing in impact and strength the loss of life it caused was minimal. The Middle East is in even more upheaval than usual, and don’t expect that to settle down anytime soon. One world leader says one thing, and another says another. Some start agreeing with each other for a while, and we all get excited that problems are going to be solved and the stock markets will continue climbing. And then another brick gets thrown through our worldview window, and we get all scared again.

Stop it. If we are Christians, we need to start thinking, speaking and behaving like Christ. Do not fear what the world fears. Pay no attention to who is allied with who. Do not tremble at what is happening. Gaze at God, and His awesome holiness will fill you with worthwhile fear. And when we Christians start to give God the respect, attention and awe that He deserves and demands, we will suddenly find that we have peace within, even as the world falls apart without.

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