Thursday, April 19, 2007

Detestable Worship

Thanks to those who commented on the last post. If you still want to, go ahead. Not trying to shut it down or anything.

I'm doing a paper right now on "Social Justic and Worship in Isaiah" and I am having trouble writing it because it would just make a lot of sense to type out a couple chapters of Isaiah and hand that in without much extra comment besides an "Amen, so be it, may God have mercy on our souls."

Here are some of those verses. God says:

Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1)

Day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own fleshand blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness a will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. (Isaiah 58)

I guess the only qualification to add is that we aren't a theocracy anymore. We are a church in a society which would be difficult to reform through religious channels the same way that ancient Israel might have been. However, we are responsible for our worship, and I fear for us when we are all words and no action. Not all churches are that way, but we have to ask ourselves, "What about us?"


Colin Toffelmire said...

I love Isaiah. He scares me, but I love the whole book. As far as finding an angle for the paper have you considered a comparison of the perspectives on social justice found in Isaiah, Deutero Isaiah and (if you think there is one) Trito Isaiah? I realize that this is the kind of thing us biblical studies nerds find intriguing, but I've always felt that a little influence from the biblical studies department would be good for the theology department (and vice versa I'm sure). Just a thought. Have fun though, Isaiah is wonderful from start to finish (though not as good as Ezekiel, who is my favorite prophet...this is of course because Daniel isn't a prophet he's a sage :) ). Cheers.

Coutts said...

I haven't given much attention to the developments/differences between the sections of canonical Isaiah other than to say that the trajectory of redemption has God demanding better of his people then and there, and then doing something about it through the Servant, and then demanding better here and now, and then doing something about it ultimately as we progress towards/and or are invaded by the new creation.

hope i'm not missing anything. i'm sure i'm being vague enough as it is. us theology folks definitely need the biblical studies folks to keep us honest, and vice versa.

Tony Tanti said...

Amos has some similar strong words about God's people and their treatment of the oppressed etc..

Good stuff.