of Moses was a matter of form religion only, that the heart did not matter to
God one way or the other. How anyone could think this of a religion whose mantra seemed to be Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all
your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Deut 6:5) is
beyond my comprehension. Yet all of us have blind spots where what we have heard all our lives keeps us from seeing things right under our noses.
Here is a list of passages to read at your convenience in the next week. It will amaze you, stun you, and forever more settle the matter. God expected his people to live the Law every day of their lives, not just on the Sabbath. He has always wanted their hearts. Isa 1:11-17; 29:13; 30:8-14; 58:13,14; 66:1,2; Jer 7:8-10; 8:8,9; 22:3,4; Eze 33:13, 30-33; 34:1-31; Hos 6:4-6; 10:12; 12:6; Amos 5:11-15; 8:4-10; Mic 6:6-8.
Yes, form was important to God. It showed exactly how much faith and devotion his people had to obey him in even the smallest details. As God told Moses, See that you make things according to the pattern which was shown you in Mount [Sinai], Ex 25:40. Jesus even said the Pharisees were right to be careful to follow the Law exactly: Whatever [the Pharisees] bid you, do and observe…for these things (tithing even their herbs) you ought to have done, Matt 23:1,23. But he went on to say that the heart was even more important: You have left undone the weightier matters of the Law, justice, mercy, and faith. God expected their obedient following of the pattern of worship to match an obedient life of righteousness, coming from a pure heart of faith, love, and mercy. He flatly told them that none of their worship would be accepted otherwise.
Why do you think Jesus was so angry with the scribes and Pharisees? They prided themselves on knowing and keeping the Law, but they seemed totally ignorant of those scriptures listed above. He quoted several of those passages to them (Matt 9:13; 13:14,15; 15:8,9), ending with, Go learn what this means, the ultimate insult to a scribe, a “teacher” of the Law.
Those Jewish leaders were still under the Law at the time. Do we, who have a better covenant, a better priest, and better forgiveness, think God will expect any less of us? God demands more than simply following His law to the letter.
He expects a life of service from us, Inasmuch as you have done this unto the least of these my brothers, you have done it also unto me, Matt 25:40. Let’s not sit on our pews congratulating ourselves because we are following all the rituals correctly, if we have left so much else undone throughout the week. As Peter reminds us in 1 Pet 4:17, judgment will begin with us. We had better make sure our hearts are ready for it.
I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yes, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take away from me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melodies of your viols. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream, Amos 5:21-24.