You also say: 'Look, what a nuisance!' And you turn up your nose at it," says the LORD of Hosts. "You bring as an offering animals that are stolen, lame, or sick! Should I accept this from your hands?" asks the LORD.
I. IN THE NATURE OF THINGS RELIGIOUS WORSHIP SHOULD NOT BE A WEARINESS.
1. Take it as the proper and fitting expression of the creature's dependence on his Creator. It ought to be full of the joy of thankfulness.
2. Take it as the natural impulse of the sinner's love to his Saviour. Man fallen should feel a joy in worship even beyond that of man unfallen. The song of the redeemed is an altogether nobler song than the innocent can ever sing. And religious worship, kept within the lines of Divine claims, never need be a weariness. It is religion with the multiplied added demands of men that is in danger of proving a weariness. No reasonable man could say that Mosaism was a weariness, so far as it was a Divine institution. But every man could say that Rabbinism was a weariness; for it laded men with burdens too grievous to be borne. Spiritual religion is always simplifying worship. As spirituality fails, exacting demands are increased, and religion tends to become a weariness.
II. THROUGH THE MOODS OF MEN RELIGIOUS WORSHIP BECOMES A WEARINESS. What the priests of earlier times had done gladly and joyfully, the priests of Malachi's time dragged through. The joy of Levites in their work is expressed in the Korahite psalms (Psalm42:84, etc.), which are full of longings for restoration to the temple service. There was no difference in the worship. The difference was in the moods of the men. Their spiritual life was low. They had no personal joy in God, so they could have no joy in the routine of God's worship. The sadness of the restored Judaism of the exiles was that, to so large an extent, it was the restoration of the Jewish formalities, without the restoration of that spiritual life which would have vitalized the formalities. And still the weariness men feel at the length of Christian services, etc., is the revelation of their wrong mood; of their lost personal joy in God their Saviour. - R.T.
Should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord.Isaiah 1:13): — Each age has its characteristic. No two are just alike; and though history repeats itself, yet there is progress. Its processes are those of a spiral.
I. In the age of Isaiah the Jews were full of religiosity. Sacrifices were not neglected — a multitude were offered. They brought the best of all kinds, not as in the days of Malachi, the lean and the poor, but abundantly they brought the blood of bullocks, of lambs, and of he-goats. Clouds of incense arose; they carefully kept the new moons, the Sabbaths, the assemblies, and the solemn meeting, not only all appointed feasts, but even others they observed in an intense devotion to the forms of religion. Why were their oblations vain? Why were they not regarded in their sacrifices and accepted in their persons?
1. As in the days of the Saviour, so now, whilst they were careful to tithe, mint, anise and cummin, they omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.
2. They were offered without faith. This whole chapter shows such to be the case. This was just what made the difference between Abel's sacrifice and Cain's offering.
3. Their offerings were unaccompanied with repentance; for repentance implies confession of sin, the forsaking it, and the reformation of life.
II. THIS POSITIVE SINFULNESS IS CLEARLY MADE OUT.
1. They were laden with iniquity.
2. There was no soundness in them, from the sole of the foot even unto the head.
3. Their rulers were like the princes of Sodom, and themselves like the men of Gomorrah.
4. Their hands were full of blood. The rulers did not punish the people, and reciprocally the people abetted their rulers in their blood-guiltiness.
5. The times were full of evils, unredressed and unavenged. Their princes had become companions of thieves and bribe-takers.
III. On the other hand, GOD STILL REMEMBERS GRACE AND MERCY.
1. There was still a remnant left (ver. 9).
2. All are called to repentance (vers. 16, 17).
3. Those that repent shall obtain mercy, but the contumacious shall not be spared (vers. 18-24).
4. And still further, God holds up the gracious promise to send times of reformation and refreshing (vers. 25-27).Reflections —
1. Do we preach and pray, and is there no answering fruit — no conversions, and no increase of piety?
2. Can the reason be found in devotion to the forms of religion and the neglect of its spirit?
3. Are our people characterised by an absorbing devotion to the world?
4. Then to us as to Israel is the call to repentance; to us as to them, the hope of forgiveness; to us as to them, the promise of revival upon repentance and reformation. God forbid that we should merely possess the forms of religion and be destitute of its life-giving power.
(L. O. Thomson.)
I. THE CRIMINAL CHARGE HE FIXES ON THIS PROFESSING COMMUNITY. It is aggravated by three things.
1. By the salutary discipline to which they had recently been subjected for their backslidings and rebellions against God.
2. By the fact that they thus sinned against the clearest knowledge.
3. By the majesty of the object against whom their offence was directed. We censure and condemn the Jews, but "are we better than they"?
II. THE USES TO BE MADE OF THIS REMONSTRANCE.
1. Here are materials for your deepest humiliation and penitence.
2. How incompetent are all the rites and ceremonies of religion to save the soul!
3. See the fallacy of pharisaism.
4. How welcome, then, is the evangelical intelligence which is brought to us, to awaken a hope of the acceptance of our persons and services in the sight of a holy God.
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