HOW TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF CHURCH
1. In Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain painted an amusing word picture of what happened when Tom went to church.
2. This chapter of Isaiah addresses people who have a problem like Tom’s – only worse.
a. These folks regularly and willingly went through the formality of engaging in religious activity.
b. However, there was no substance to what they were doing, and they came away as if they had been short-changed by the experience.
3. It’s in the prophet’s answer to that situation that we find helpful, and necessary, instruction for the church.
1. Four Mistakes to Avoid
a. Hidden sin, v.1-2.
i. The “as if” in verse 2 is devastating, and the trumpet call of verse 1 is a loud and clear declaration that it has not worked.
ii. Isaiah 1:12-15
iii. Isaiah 6:5-6
b. Selfish motivation, v.3,13.
i. Zechariah 7:5
ii. Is it seeking God (v.2)? Is it acceptable to the LORD (v.5)?
iii. It is not that we shouldn’t be pleased to serve him, but that our being pleased must not be the first concern (cf. James 4:3).
c. Mistreatment of people, v.4-7.
i. Formal religious activity is no substitute for a heart for people and right relationships with them.
ii. God wants our having been in his presence to leave us with more sensitivity to his own mercy and justice.
iii. “Let Me Help”
d. Weariness with the LORD, v.13-14.
i. While only the spirit of it could make fasting real, the Sabbath also required form.
ii. They were not honoring the LORD in it because they did not have enough delight in him to respect it.
iii. Isaiah 29:13
iv. T. W. Manson
v. Notice carefully now what the prophet has – and hasn’t – called for to cure their feeling that they were not getting anything from their involvement in the service of God.
2. Three Blessings to Expect
a. Encouragement in doing right, v.8-10.
b. Resources for meeting responsibilities, v. 11-12.
c. Increased delight in living with the LORD, v. 14.
1. One of the reasons Isaiah spoke about this matter so much is that his own life had been changed so much by it – as have been many other lives.
2. Some heart may have been opened here today.