In the beginning of the book of Isaiah, the LORD speaks to Israel, His chosen people, regarding their sacrifices and assemblies, the things He has commanded. He tells them that He has had enough of their sacrifices and burnt offerings. “‘What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?,’ says the LORD. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of cattle; and I take no pleasure I’m the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.'” (1:11). The Israelites have brought countless burnt offerings to the Temple to plead to and honor the LORD, and He tells them that He is tired of them. He is sick of them entering the Temple and worthlessly trampling through His courts (1:12). All that they do has become a burden to the LORD and He is sick of it. He even tells them that He “…cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly” (1:13). So, He gives them an ultimatum: as a result of their sins and disregard for the laws He has given them, He will no longer listen to their prayers, no matter how numerous. Their sins have become a barrier between them (1:15).
After the LORD pleads His case with the Israelites, He gives them a solution. He tells them that if they come to Him and repent of their sins and do justice, then they will be blessed. “‘If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land;'” (1:19). But He tells them that if they continue to sin and do not repent, then they will be killed (1:20).
As I read this, I can’t help but think about what I have witnessed in my experiences in the Church and among various congregations. I look around at various people, members of the Church, self-proclaimed Christians, and other people as they struggle through life, no hint of God, no answer to prayers, leaving themselves to wonder if God is there and if He is listening. I’m not denying that we all go through valleys and dark times in our lives and even moments that seem like dry spells in our spiritual lives, but there are times when there is a very simple explanation: we have sinned and have not repented. The Israelites had a very similar problem. They were struggling. Battles were being lost, disease was rampant, as was famine, and countless members of their nation were dying. Isaiah tells them that it was all a result of their sinful ways. How much of your life is struggling and you don’t know why? Are you constantly on your knees, praying for change, praying for something you need, only to receive no answer, or worse, receive more problems and pain? Take time to seriously analyze your life. Look for areas where you have failed to follow God. Ask Him to reveal your sins, especially the ones you are not aware of. Turn to the LORD, and He will forgive you. Repent and all will be well. Just as He promised the Israelites, He promises the same to you.