In today’s One Year Bible reading from Isaiah chapters 1 and 2, God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, laments that the people of Israel had rebelled against Him, and were suffering as a result. Instead of doing things God’s way, they wanted to do things their way. And God wasn’t pleased—to put it mildly!

The people of Israel were “going through the motions” of religious practices (some of which they apparently invented themselves), but their hearts were full of sin, and their behavior reflected that.

God’s judgment was already falling upon them, and a day of judgment yet to come. But God also promised restoration for His people Israel, and punishment for those opposed to Him.
These chapters should be a warning to us. The specifics of Israel’s sin and our sin are much different, but the principle is the same: God calls us to obedience, and He will deal with our disobedience—because He loves us: “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.” (Heb. 12:6, ESV)

Centuries before Isaiah lived, the prophet Samuel reprimanded King Saul: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15:22, ESV)

And centuries after Isaiah, the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7–8, ESV)

God’s Word is just as clear to us today as it was to the people of Israel or Galatia. But I’m so thankful that God not only tells us how to live, but also enables us to do it: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24, ESV)

So let’s not just “go through the motions” of the Christian life, but actually strive to walk closely with God, by the enabling power of His Spirit!

by Darrel Eppler, Chairman of the Elder Board

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