Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting—they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! (Isaiah 1:10-14)
Israel’s religious leaders carefully adhered to the traditional sacrifices and offerings at holy celebrations, but they were still unfaithful to God in their hearts and felt no sorrow for their sins.
Why did the people of Israel continue to offer sacrifices, even after their faith had grown cold? Like many people today, they had come to place more faith in the rituals of their religion than in the God they worshiped. Or perhaps they were hiding their sins by just going through the motions.
Sacrifices of any sort are to be an outward sign of true faith in God, but the outward signs become vacant rituals when no faith exists. Gifts and sacrifices mean nothing to God when they come from someone with a corrupt heart. God wants us to love him, trust him, and turn from sin; after that, he will be pleased with our “sacrifices” of time, money, or service.
Examine your own worship experience: Is it just entertainment for you? Are you just going through the motions without reflecting on it? Or are you offering genuine worship to God from a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17)?