What’s God Looking For?
Unto You Lord, my heart is open, not to my pet project, or my favorite obsession, but to You alone.
Read ISAIAH 66:1-16
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.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. We must never forget this truth.
The prophetic call to a different way of seeing is not escapist, wishful thinking. To look up and around (Isa. 60:4) so that we start to see what God sees gives us the energy and longing to live by that alternative vision. Visions take a turn quite opposed to encouraging courageous engagement if they become invitations to escape from involvement with the realities of life.
We might have expected these prophecies to close with chapter 65’s heart-lifting, joyous panorama of a healed and just society with death and evil destroyed. Why return to the darker themes and warnings of earlier chapters? Maybe because God knows our capacity for indifference to his Word (4), for going on in proud autonomy, insisting on doing things our way (3b,4b) while we glibly mouth our superficial praise and sideline the authentic worshipers (5). These failures seem to have been widespread among the people to whom these prophecies were first directed, and they add up to a central theme woven through the book of Isaiah: the nature of true worship (see, for example, 1:11-13). Yes, the returnees in Jerusalem had started to rebuild the Temple (1) and Temple services had begun again (3), but because people weren’t seeing with God’s eyes, they were missing what God always seeks in his worshipers: “the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word” (2).
“When the church becomes essentially a purveyor of religious goods and services, it reinforces the believer’s own consumerist habits … Perhaps unintentionally, this approach treats personal liberty and the inalienable ‘right’ to choose as the highest goods of life.” Daniel Williams’ sharp critique of much contemporary church culture reminds us how urgent it is for us to be alert to Isaiah’s alternative vision.
“He’s already made it plain … what God is looking for … Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal … take God seriously” (Mic. 6:8, The Message). Resolve to take this challenge seriously today and into the future.
Eternal God, teach me by Your Spirit what it means to be among those people You are seeking, who are “reverently responsive” (Isa. 66:2,5, The Message) to what You say.
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