True Religion According to God in Isaiah

February 21, 2016 Preacher: Series: Compassion Sunday

Scripture: Isaiah 1:9–20

Key Truth: God hates mechanistic religion and pursues a relationship with us which is evidenced by our reflecting His character in the world.




Q: What best reflects outwardly our relationship with God?

“Israel’s corruption of worship and rampant social injustice violates all that Israel’s history was designed to make of them. Yahweh had intended Israel to exemplify his character in witness to the nations."

Michael D. Williams, Far as the Curse is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption


The Diagnosis:

Isaiah 1:9-15

“Religious actions were to be a symbol of the heart condition. If the heart was not in an obedient and submissive posture before God, then all the sacrifices in the world would accomplish nothing….So why did (God) require sacrifices? Because we humans need a way of symbolizing spiritual realities.”

John N. Oswalt, Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary

Q: What is the purpose of our various religious activities? How does our worship impact how you live?


The Prescription:

Isaiah 1:16-17

“…worship had been divorced from justice, and the fatherless and the widow had become the chief victims (17). Such disregard for justice was a fundamental violation of the Sinai covenant for which no amount of cultic observance could compensate. The exodus itself had flowed out of God’s concern for the oppressed, and from the very beginning he had demanded that his people should have a special concern for the poor and defenseless among them. Furthermore, it is a requirement which has been intensified rather than diminished under the new covenant within which we ourselves now stand…The cross places us under a far greater obligation to love than the exodus ever could."

Barry G. Webb, The Message of Isaiah

Q: Is your love and care for the marginalized reflective of God’s example and mandate?


The Cure:

Isaiah 1:18-20

“It is God who comes seeking man—the offended One is first in the effort to make up the quarrel! It is He who says, “Come, now, and let us reason together.” He proposes to confer with man about the question in dispute. Admire much the freeness of God’s mercy, that, after you have transgressed against Him and provoked Him again and again, He still hesitates to hurl the thunderbolts of His Justice at you! Instead, thereof, He invites you to talk with Him as to the cause of your quarrel, to reason with Him about your war against your Maker.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Scarlet Sinners Pardoned and Purified”, 1/29/1888

Q: Who is responsible for our redemption and ability to reflect God’s image?



Isaiah 1:9-20 teaches us that:

-God is uninterested in mechanistic religion void of relationship

-we most reflect the image of God in our care for the marginalized

-God provides all that we need to be restored as His image bearers


“After the denunciation that had preceded, only complete and total rejection and damnation would seem to have been the logical next step. But such is the nature of grace, that it exceeds our boldest thoughts. If ever the gospel was expressed in the Old Testament, here is the classical formulation of it.”

H.C. Leupold, Exposition of Isaiah, Volume 1: Chapters 1-39