Ask the Lord to help you assess your intimacy with him. Have you been worshiping him in spirit and truth?
Read Isaiah 66:1-16
 This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?  Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.  But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations;  so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”  Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame.  Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve.  “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son.  Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.  Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God.  “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.  For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.”  For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees.  As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”  When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.  See, the LORD is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the LORD. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat does God have for those who love him?
Why do you think the prophet uses such extreme language about the misuse of sacrifices (3)? God hates it when people aren’t what they seem–and especially so when they say they love him but really don’t. If that’s the case for us, how might we begin to put it right? Verse 2 gives us the starting point to a relationship of intimacy with God, and it doesn’t have much to do with ceremonial religion. The book finishes with the birth of a baby–but it’s an unusually sudden birth with no labor (7)! How might this have been read (or heard) by the exiles in Babylon? Perhaps they would have thought of their time of exile as being like a lengthy pregnancy. A birth is certainly coming (9) and it will be a time for great rejoicing. The intimacy of a nursing mother with her child is a great picture of the uncomplicated, satisfied, loving, committed, comforting relationship God wants to have with us (13).
How might you have begun to rely on outward signs of religion to mask distance in your relationship with God?
Ask forgiveness for hypocrisy or any other sin on your conscience. Pray also for the Lord to comfort you.
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