The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets. From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance. Our God approaches, and he is not silent. Fire devours everything in his way, and a great storm rages around him. He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people.
“Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.” Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge. Interlude
“O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God! I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.”
God judges people for treating him lightly. First, he speaks to the superficially religious people who bring their sacrifices but are only going through the motions (50:1-15). They do not honor God with true praise and thankfulness. Second, he chides wicked, hardhearted people for their evil words and immoral lives (50:16-22). He asks the superficially religious for genuine thanksgiving and trust, and he warns the evil people to consider their deeds, lest he destroy them in his anger.
God’s perfect moral nature demands that the penalty for sin be death; however, a person could offer an animal to God as a substitute for himself, symbolizing the person’s faith in the merciful, forgiving God. But the people were offering sacrifices and forgetting the significance of these sacrifices! The very act of sacrifice showed that they had once agreed to follow God wholeheartedly. But at this time their hearts were not in it.
God desires sincere thanks, trust, and praise. We may fall into the same pattern when we participate in religious activities, tithe, or attend church out of habit or conformity rather than out of heartfelt love and obedience. Or sometimes we feel burned out because of our routine. God wants righteousness, not empty ritual. As a challenge, change your routine. If your church has more than one service, try worshiping at a different time. Or, meet God in his creation through a prayer walk. Check with God on ways to add vitality to your walk with him.