What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts… When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:11ff).
These are tough words for anyone who plans worship, sings in the choir, or decorates the altar. Does God’s wrath extend to our beautiful music, inspiring prayers, and compelling sermons? Should we use our resources for something else? In short, the answer from Isaiah is “yes.”
Yet, God does not say worship is wrong. Rather, God says that God cannot endure being worshiped by people who are not also doing good outside the worship. In calling the people to rescue the oppressed and defend the orphan, God does not tell the people to forgo worship; God tells them how to make worship count.
This message is an excerpt from “Making worship count,” by Emma Crossen in a 2013 issue of Interchange.
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