My last post emphasized the need to seek God “according to the ordinance” as David says in 1 Chron. 15. David’s failure to do so led God to make a breach against him and it cost Uzzah his life. Or in Christ’s words, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). I essentially concluded with the statement that it doesn’t matter how sincere your heart is if you aren’t seeking God according to the ordinance. Without backing up from that at all, I do want to show the other side. If our hearts aren’t right, it doesn’t matter how carefully we follow the ordinances.
In Isaiah’s day, the people were careful to keep the daily sacrifices going and celebrated the new moons as Moses had taught them, but God was not happy with them. Isa. 1:11-14 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. "When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.” What was the problem here? Notice that God doesn’t say they aren’t following His teachings closely enough, that isn’t the problem. So what is? He tells them in the next verse: “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” They were worshipping correctly, but they weren’t living as children of God. They showed up to worship on the Sabbath, but during the rest of the week their “hands are full of blood”. They were living sinful lives, and all the correct worship in the world wasn’t going to get them any closer to God. If they wanted a relationship with Him, He tells they that they will have to shape up. Isa 1:16-17 “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.”
Jesus dealt with the same issue with the Pharisees. Their strict observance of ordinance while hypocritically living lives of sin exasperated Him and He routinely tried to teach them better (or at least to warn others from following after them). Most well-known is His harangue against them in Matt. 23. A selection: vs 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” They were so careful about every detail of the ordinances of the Law, yet they failed to follow the underlining principles of the Law. Justice, mercy and faithfulness are far more important than making sure they tithed the herb garden properly. Their hearts weren’t right, so their law-keeping was worthless.
Notice, though, that Jesus didn’t say they were wrong for tithing the mint, dill, and cumin. “These [justice and mercy and faithfulness] you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Jesus says they should not have neglected proper tithing, just that it should have been done with a godly heart. And proper tithing did include the herb garden. Deuteronomy 14:22 says they should tithe all that came forth from the field. That would include herbs. They weren’t wrong about the ordinance, they were wrong about their hearts.
So, to last time’s
IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW SINCERE WE ARE IF WE AREN’T WORSHIPING ACCORDING TO THE ORDINANCE
we must add
IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW CAREFULLY WE FOLLOW THE ORDINANCES OF WORSHIP IF WE AREN’T SINCERE.
Micah 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
John 4:23 “. . . true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”