“’What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?’ says the Lord. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.’” (Isaiah 1:11–14, NASB95)
Here are some very strong words coming from the Lord in judgment on how His people were coming to Him in worship. God ordained the sacrificial system back in the days of Moses. All you have to do is read the book of Leviticus to see how detailed this system was. But something had happened. Something about the system had become terribly wrong. Through Isaiah, God was telling the people to stop sacrificing to Him because the sacrifices were a stench to Him. He told them that He couldn’t stand their sacrifices any longer. In verse 13 He says, “Bring your worthless sacrifices no longer.” What made them worthless? Why was God sick and tired of the sacrifices He ordained?
If you read the whole chapter you will learn that the people of Israel were performing the sacrifices out of ritual obedience. They were simply doing what their forefathers had done without any meaning or purpose. Their actions were right, but their hearts were far from the Lord. There isn’t anything more revolting to God than to remove intimacy from our spiritual practices. The sacrificial system was designed by God to be the way that the people of Israel could deal with their sins against God and one another. It was the way to repair the brokenness in their relationships. In the days of Isaiah, it simply became religious ritual. It was being done to appease God and because it was what they had always done. Intimacy and meaning were completely lost. God couldn’t take it any longer. They were living their daily lives any way they wanted and performing rituals on the Sabbath to appease God. He finally told them just to stop!
What’s the takeaway? God doesn’t want our ritual obedience. He wants our hearts and our lives. He wants every part of our being to be intimately involved in our worship and life. He wants us to repent of our brokenness and to continually seek His grace and favor. He wants there to be intimacy and meaning in everything we do with and for Him.