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“The prophecy of Isaiah is filled with ominous predictions of judgment and glorious promises of redemption, anchored in the historical events which led to the captivity of Judah. The corruption of God's pure worship was at the heart of Judah's rebellion, and therefore we are not surprised to find great insight here upon this essential subject…It is especially important in the context of our study of worship to note that while the charges brought by the prophets against Israel often included their corruption of justice and righteousness and their oppression of the poor and needy, the ultimate sin that is repeatedly mentioned is their corruption of the worship of the true and living God, which led to every other transgression. Thus, a right understanding of the message of the prophets must begin with their testimony against the people with regard to their backsliding and false worship.”

True worship is obedience from the heart (Isaiah 1:1- 14)

“ The wayward children of Israel, according to Isaiah, had become ‘corrupters.’ They had corrupted the first table of the Law through false worship, and the second table through injustice and unrighteousness- as the Scriptures continually demonstrate that the latter is the inevitable fruit of the former.

The people of Judah were apparently very zealous in the performance of religious duty. They multiplied sacrifices, celebrated the appointed festivals, made many prayers, and even called special assemblies of worship. Yet God considered all of their religious activities hateful abominations because they did not obey from the heart. They were, in a word, hypocrites. Even when their religious practices conformed to the commanded ordinances of God, their disobedient lives made their services wearisome to Him.

We must not imagine that mere outward conformity to God's commanded worship will gain the Lord's favor. As John Knox observed, ‘… idolatry is not only to worship that thing which is not God, but also to trust or lean unto that thing which is not God, and has not in itself all sufficiency.’

The people of Judah had made God's commanded ordinances into idols, trusting in them and seeking to gain God's approval through them. We must guard ourselves against all such idolatry.

Yet this is not to say that God is unconcerned with the manner in which His people draw near to Him, for He chides the people of Judah saying, ‘When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand?’ This is a question that is seldom asked by contemporary worshippers, and yet it is the ultimate question. Elsewhere God declares, ‘ Obedience is better than sacrifice.’ The sacrifice referred to was the commanded sacrifice. God delights in obedience more than the ‘sacrifice of fools’ who do not walk prudently in His house. He delights in worship that is obedient to His commands, offered from hearts that delight in and rely upon His Word alone.” (Comin, 218-219)

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