When you come to appear before Me, who has required this of you--this trampling of My courts?
followed the devices and desires of their own hearts." Jehovah declares that the merely formal service of the impure is an abomination unto him. Those very sacrifices and offerings which were his delight, became hateful to him when offered with unclean hands, and when no loving, trusting, obedient hearts found expression through them. "I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting."
I. THE POSSIBILITY OF UNITING TOGETHER INIQUITY AND THE SOLEMN MEETING. At first it may seem as if that were not possible. Surely conscience will prevent men from joining in religious worship who are indulging in open sin. Perhaps this is the real reason why so many people around us stay away from worship. But it is a fact that many of the worst men have kept, all through their lives, in outward association with religious worship. In the times of the old monasteries you might have listened to the solemn services and heard the monks breathe out strains of holy music set to holy words. You might have seen priests in gorgeous garments waving incense and uplifting the symbol of the Redeemer. They were precise in all prayers, minute in all ceremonial. And many of them were faithful and true men. But History writes one of her saddest pages about many of them. They were given over to gluttony, drunkenness, and immorality, and were uniting "iniquity and the solemn meeting." This is even a possibility for our own times and for ourselves. Many of us, if we were conscious of heart-sins and life-sins cherished and loved, would only become more exact in religious formalities, trying to cover up the wrong and hide it, as far as possible from our own view. We do religiously somewhat as Cain did when he hid his murdered' brother in the ground, and then set vigorously to work in his fields, trying, by sheer earnestness in work, to persuade himself and to persuade others that he knew nothing whatever of his brother's blood. We are not, however, so likely to unite the open forms of iniquity with the solemn meeting as we are the more secret forms, the inner heart-sins, which may be cherished without disgracing us before God; such sins as:
1. The unforgiving spirit. To fail to forgive is to sin.
2. Backslidings and lustings of heart: proud, selfish, sensual, corrupting thoughts. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." And the God to whom we offer worship is the Heart-searcher, the Thought-searcher.
3. Openness to the vanities of the world.
4. Occasional yieldings to temptation and self-indulgence. Many indulge the idea that, if their indulgences do not become habitual, they need not interfere with their religious worship. Plead the Divine requirement as given in Psalm 24:3-5.
II. THE VIEW GOD TAKES OF UNITING INIQUITY AND THE SOLEMN MEETING. "I am weary to bear." "I cannot away with." "It is an abomination to me." We should clearly distinguish what it is which is thus hateful to God. It is not the sacrifice, or the offering, or the solemn meeting. God takes delight in those places and in those services in which his Name is recorded. They are the highest things that can engage human attention, the seasons in which man transcends the earthly and anticipates the hallowed occupations of heaven. They are the times in which man ought to be the truest, the most sincere, the most himself; all cloaks, all hoods, all masks, all pride, ought to be laid aside whenever we pass the threshold of God's sanctuary. Naked, guileless, open souls alone may stand before the all-holy Lord. The thing which is so hateful is the separation between a worshipping and an obedient heart. God has encouraged outward worship, that it might express, and strengthen while it expresses, the love and trust of an obedient heart. The husk becomes worthless when the worm of self and pride has eaten out the kernel. The dress is hideous which no longer clothes a warm living body, but covers, and scarcely hides, the skeleton of rebellion. The voice is hateful that is only a voice, and utters no joy, no trust, no love of the heart. Be true in thy worship, be spiritual, and God will look down on thee with delight and acceptance. Be formal, be insincere, and God will frown thee from his presence; from thine hands he will reject the costliest sacrifices and the grandest show of devotion. Our cherished sins will as surely be an offence to God as were those which are referred to in this chapter. Ours, indeed, are not sins of violence and blood, but rather sins of secret indulgence. We have seen the light of the sun as effectually hidden by thin light mists as by black thunder-clouds. And God's face has often been hidden by the mists of little transgressions. He notices sins of will. He observes sins of inadvertence. He sees sins of neglect. He reckons sins of nourished evil thoughts. More souls have died away from the love of God through the subtle plague-breath of little heart-sins than have fallen under the strokes of temptation in open conflict with evil. And what shall we do, if it is revealed to us that secret evils have come in upon our souls, and that the devil's work of woe has been progressing in us, and the work of God's grace in us is flagging and failing? What shall we do if we can detect stains of secret disobediences, unforgivings, and self-indulgences? Let us not stay away from worship; but let us at once obey in this: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well." - R.T.
1. The Scripture for our understanding ascribes senses to God, and here we find every sense displeased with their sins.(1) They were offensive to His tasting; for their burnt offerings of rams, with the fat of lambs, etc., He could not relish — they delighted Him not, they were sour to His palate.(2) They were offensive to His smelling; for He tells them that their incense was an abomination unto Him — that precious perfume, which was made with so many sweet spices and pure frankincense (Exodus 30:34, 35), did stink in His nostrils, the scent thereof He could not abide.(3) They were offensive to His feeling; for their new moons and appointed feasts were a burden unto Him, He was a weary to bear them. And though He be not weary of bearing the whole world, yet He is aweary of this burden; so heavy is it to His sense, that He complains He is "pressed under it, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves" (Amos 2:13).(4) They were offensive to His seeing; and therefore He tells them, though they spread forth their hands, He will hide His eyes. His pure eyes "cannot behold evil," nor endure to look upon iniquity, and therefore He must turn away His face from them.(5) They were offensive to His hearing; for when they make many prayers He will not hear. Their prayers were as jarring in His ears as if divers distracted musicians should play upon divers bad instruments so many several tunes at one time.
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord.
I. GOD COULD NOT ABSOLUTELY REJECT SACRIFICES, because they were of His own appointing, as we are abundantly certified in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus. And they were instituted for very good put. poses.
1. As federal rites between God and His people, that by eating of what was offered upon His altar they might profess their union and communion with Him, that they were of His family, He their Father, and they His children. And this is what made idolatry so odious to Him, and for which He declares Himself a jealous God, that when they sacrificed to idols they made the same acknowledgments to them.
2. Sacrifices were instituted to expiate sins of ignorance and trespasses of an inferior nature. It is true, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews affirms, that it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should purify the conscience, so as to wash away the guilt of sin, which only can be atoned for by the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world. But yet they availed to the purifying of the flesh, and were accepted of God in lieu of temporal punishments.
3. Sacrifices were designed to teach men that without shedding of blood there could be no remission of sins. They were hereby led to consider that infinite justice properly required the life of the offender, but that infinite mercy accepted of a vicarious life.
4. Peace offerings, or sacrifices of gratitude were offered to God in hope of obtaining some favour, or as a thanksgiving for having received some signal mercy from Him.
5. Sacrifices were instituted for types and representatives of that final sacrifice of the Son of God in whom they all centred and were consummated. (Psalm 40:6; Hebrews 10:5, 6) "He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second," i.e., the sacrifice of Himself; and consequently Paul calls the law our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, and Christ the end of the law, because it was ended in Him and by Him. In this sense it is that our Lord affirms that He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. He fulfilled the moral law by His perfect holiness and virtue, and the law of sacrifices by His death and passion. From all this I infer that God does not reject sacrifices as such, and therefore we must conclude that —
II. HIS AVERSION TO THEM WAS OCCASIONED BY THE ILL MANNERS OF THOSE THAT OFFERED THEM, who had no concern to accomplish the good ends which were intended by them, nor considered that by these sacraments they laid themselves under renewed obligations to be sensible of their own demerits, to repent and reform whatever they found amiss in their lives, and to abound in the love of God, and the fruits of His Holy Spirit. It appears from the characters of these men, especially in their latter and worst times, that they satisfied themselves with the opus operatum, the external duties of religion, and had no regard to the renovation of their hearts and minds.
(W. Reading, M. A.)
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
2. Neither were their sins only displeasing to His senses, but also grievous to His mind, and therefore He tells them, their new moons and appointed feasts His soul did hate; which is an emphatical speech, and an argument of God's hearty detestation.
( M. Henry.)
(D. Fraser, D. D.)
Student's France.On the 20th of November 1407, the two cousins heard mass, and partook of the holy sacrament together at the church of the Augustins. Never was there a blacker instance of sacrilegious hypocrisy. At the very moment when he thus profaned the most solemn rite of Christianity, Jean sans Peur had deliberately doomed his enemy to a bloody and violent death.
(H. O. Mackey.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
Sunday School Chronicle.When Ruskin was making explorations about Venice, in the Church of St. James, he discovered, engraved on a stone, these words, "Around the temple let the merchant's weights be true, his measures just, and his contracts without guile."
(Sunday School Chronicle.)The Paris Figaro mentions that a curious discovery was made recently when the famous robber gang of Papakoritzopoulo was broken up. In the pocket of this most notorious of European brigands was found a small Bible, neatly bound and wrapped in a clean, silk handkerchief, a prayer book, holy relics in tiny boxes, a cross, and other religious objects.
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
Christian Commonwealth.The letters of Robert Louis Stevenson tell an astonishing story of smuggling in the Shetlands. The revenue official had great trouble with a man known as Preaching Peter, who, whenever he returned with his spoils, sent round handbills to announce his coming, and went about the country preaching. After he had much prayed and much preached, he gave the benediction, and this was the signal for all who knew him to crowd round. "How many gallons shall I give you? How many do you want?" Such was the conversation; and so he sold his smuggled spirits and improved the people's souls while he filled his own purse. Worship and wickedness: — A famous brigand in Sicily was constantly robbing and sometimes murdering. But he would never go forth on his expeditions without first kneeling at a little shrine in his cave, where he kept an image of the Virgin.
(A. Smellie, M. A.)
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