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“Meaningless Worship Condemned” Isaiah 29: 9-16, June 16, 2013
(Click here for Word document: MEANINGLESS WORSHIP CONDEMNED Sunday School Lessson or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Insincerity. Is there any greater form of scorn? For in it, you look at the face of adoration and love, but dig deeper and you find a pretender. One that is phony and filled with hatefulness. It’s hurtful from a human perspective, how much worse for the one who treats God in this manner?
That is the accusation before the people in this week’s lesson. God is rebuking them for surface worship. Surface worship is only what can be seen with the naked eye. But, as the Bible declares, “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart,” (1 Sam. 16:7, KJV). And, it is in the heart where He wishes to see true devotion and adoration.
In today’s lesson, Isaiah once again becomes the mouthpiece of God. This message of rebuke calls for self-examination in not only the readers of his day, but in ours as well. Is our worship filled with empty rituals or are our hearts in tune with the beat of God’s? Do we rely on our programs to draw us in His presence, or can we, with all humility of soul and spirit, approach Him on His throne to seek a closer relationship with Him? Dig into today’s lesson and see how we measure up with God’s idea of worship in comparison to our own.
Isaiah 29:9-10 “Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.”
“You reap what you sow.” We often associate that saying with Galatians 6:7, and more than often apply it to finances. This bold truth makes an impact in every area of our lives. Here, we see because of the pride and complacency of Jerusalem, God has allowed them to reap what they have already sown.
God loves to bless His people, and He will. Sometimes, one can put God into the role of a disciplinarian where chastisement becomes necessary. This is what we see when it says the LORD is pouring out “the spirit of deep sleep” upon His people.
Their spiritual status before God was in la-la land. They didn’t treasure Him and His ways. They weren’t spiritually awake and in tuned to their relationship with Him. Therefore, God handed them over to what they were already doing.
“Stay yourselves and wonder.” Take a time-out and think about your own selves. Think about how far you have let this go. Think about where your life is now headed and where it once was when your worship was sincere. Think about the path you take, for now you “stagger.”
One who walks with a “stagger” is inconsistent. “I could wish you were cold or hot,” is what was said to the inconsistent lukewarm church in Revelation 3:15, NKJV. These kinds of people’s steps are not “ordered” in the Lord (Ps. 119:133). Instead, their spiritual life acts like a “drunken” man who can’t get his bearings in life.
Because of this, God has “closed your eyes.” We see many miracles in the Bible where God opens the eyes of the blind, but here God has closed their eyes; He has closed their understanding. The leaders, “the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” Those that rely on their own wisdom have become as what Jesus called them, “blind guides,” (Mt. 23:24, KJV).
In order for God’s people to be in a proper relationship with Him that inspires true worship, they have to have their spiritual “eyes” linked up with Him in sincerity and truth. Anything else will keep your view of Him “covered,” disabling one’s capacity for proper worship.
Isaiah 29:11-12 “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed; And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.”
Prophets and seers, two of the above named leaders, were known for seeing “visions.” Seeing a vision means nothing if there is no understanding or interpretation. Because their “eyes” are closed and “covered” they can’t comprehend what they so-called see. They can’t “read” the things of God. Their understanding of it is “sealed.” They don’t know God’s ways. “Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God,” (Jer. 5:4, KJV).
For a leader to be effective they have to have a certain measure of understanding to the ways of God for themselves. Romans 10:3 puts it like this, “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God,” (KJV). Rituals will not suffice. The appearance of “righteousness” will not make the grade. They will keep on being ignorant as “the words of a book that is sealed.”
Later, Isaiah himself, unbeknownst to him backs up Paul’s point in Romans. Isaiah tells them, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags,” (Is. 64:6, KJV). One’s dependence on their own pride will keep them as the one who says, “I am not learned.” Comprehension comes from the desire of the true seeker. The true seeker sincerely submits “to the righteousness of God.”
Isaiah 29:13-14 “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”
In prayer this morning, my heart kept singing that old hymn “Draw Me Nearer.” First, I sang it in prayer on behalf of some special people I was praying salvation for. Then, I sprang forth in song for myself. A heart that constantly pulls to be nearer to God is what He desires.
Through Isaiah’s rebuke, it showed that this is not what He was receiving. We call it “lip service” when someone does a lot of talking but doesn’t follow through in sincere action. God identified it as a greater evil. So much so, He said they “Have removed their heart far from me.” This is the action on the part of the people. This was of their own doing. They have separated their devotion of God from their hearts while playing church on the outside.
This is also a dire warning to the church today. Let us not approach God with just rituals and programs, but let our hearts come near Him in love and worship for who He is and all of His glory.
The people worried themselves more with what was being “taught” by men, then blessing God with a life wholly dedicated to Him, inside and out. Our worship should be seeking His glory. This is all about what’s real versus what’s fake; what are His ways as opposed to our own. One will never see His glory as Moses did (Ex. 33) if they insist on worship that is not devoted to Him.
So, God in essence said, “I’m gonna do something about that.” What He really said is, “Behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work.” I’m going to do the unexpected. I’m going to flip your world upside down. Since, you rely on the “wisdom of their wise men and the understanding of the prudent” more than drawing nearer to Me, I’m going to cause those things to “perish” and be “hid.” This is almost the same thing we see in verses 11 & 12.
Isaiah 29:15 “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? And who knoweth us?”
“You can’t hide what’s inside!” is a phrase we hear all over; from children’s cartoons to songs to show to books, etc. It’s a popular saying and no truer can it be applied than here in this message Isaiah is relaying for God. The word “counsel” can also mean “purpose.” God knows the “who’s, what’s, when’s, why’s and how’s” of everything! Yet, mankind continually thinks He is aloof and unknowing so they try to “hide their counsel.” Or, hide their reasons, purpose and sins.
God is omniscient and what that means is there is no “counsel” (however you want to use it) that He can’t find out about. Mankind “seek deep to hide,” but God can go deeper still. This is why the Bible tells us, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” (Heb. 4:13, KJV). After declaring God “understandeth my thoughts afar off,” (Ps. 139:2) and “thou knowest it all together,” (Ps. 139:4), David, the writer of Psalm 139 summed it all up by saying in verse 6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it,” (KJV). Stop trying to hide it, God knows all about it. Every counsel. Every reason. Every purpose is “naked” before Him!
Isaiah 29:16 “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?”
You guys have your way of thinking “upside down!” You’re acting like “clay” that tries to talk back to the “potter” and makes demands and questions that way it was made and how things should go. Ludicrous! Your way of thinking won’t bring you into sincere worship of the Lord. Following your own ways will only lead you to evil and destruction. The Lord pleaded in Jeremiah 18:11, “Return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good,” (KJV). The people’s response was, “There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart,” (Jer. 18:12, KJV). That’s “upside down” and in God’s sight, it will not work.
In every way, shape and form, meaningless worship will always be condemned by God because it’s empty and futile and it will not produce the relationship He seeks with us. “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statues, and to keep his commandments, as at this day,” (1 Kings 8:61, KJV). The exhortation from 1 Kings applies to us also because only when one’s heart is turned toward God and His ways will there be meaning in worship. God bless!
Below you will find resources to help you reinforce the lesson for this week. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Meaningless Worship Condemned Draw the Scene
Isaiah 29:13 Coloring Sheet: PDF Is. 29 vs 13 Coloring Sheet (Use coloring sheet as is or make a decorated poster. Enjoy!) (Special Note: Print out from PDF or download for accurate print.)
“Hangman”: This old game is excellent for lesson reinforcement. Simply print the worksheet from Printactivities.com, get your verses or phrases from the lesson you want to use or the students want to use with each other, play and enjoy! (A single hangman page can be found at Thetripclip.com. Enjoy!)
“My Heart Worships God!” Plague:
Using large or small, colored or plain crafts sticks and this PDF Heart Worships or Red Heart Worships and string and tape, students can decorate and create a plaque to hang anywhere to remind them of today’s important lesson. SImply tape the string to the back of the plaque. Enjoy! (Don’t forget, using cardstock is best if available).
“My Heart Worships God!” Person:
With this project your students can make a replica of themselves as dedicated people who have a heart to worship God. Simply make a person template out of cardstock or download one such as Art Venturers. Let students decorate the person to be like them. Then, print out the PDF Small Heart Worships or Small Heart Worships Red and attach the heart to the person with glue. Next, to give the person the ability to “hang around” whereever your students wish, glue a clothespin on the back and there you have it. Enjoy! (Don’t forget, cardstock works best if available).
Vs. 16: “Potter’s Clay”
If you wish to illustrate this portion of the lesson one good idea is to make homemade play dough. I usually use a No Cook formula such as the one found on Prekinders.com. You students can form whatever they wish and you can ask them silly questions such as, “Did your play dough tell you to make it like that?” etc. Wait for the silly responses and giggles from your students and tell them why this way of thinking was “upside down.”
“Discovering the Divine” from Ministry to Children (This page has several resources that can be applied to this lesson including: “The Heart of Longing,” “The Worth of Knowing God,” and “God Incomprehensible.”)
“Isaiah Powerpoint” from Bibleforchildren.org
“Isaiah Coloring Book” from Bibleforchildren.org
“Isaiah Coloring Sheet” from Coloringpages7.com
“W is for Worship” Coloring Page from Ministery to Children
“Family Worship” Coloring Page located at Avirtuouswoman.org
“I Worship God!” Coloring Page from Lessons4sundayschool.com
“Worship” Coloring Page from Supercoloring.com
“Worshiping On The Knees” Coloring Page from Supercoloring.com
“Heart, Soul and Might” Coloring Page from Ministry to Children
“Love the Lord Your God” Coloring Page from Sandwichink.com
“Love the Lord” Coloring Page from Christianpreschoolprintables.com
“Love the Lord” Activity Set from Christianpreschoolprintables.com (This page has several things that can be printed out to express the point of loving God with our heart in this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Love the Lord Your God” Coloring Page from Childrens Gems in My Treasure Box
“Love the Lord Your God” Maze from Calvarywilliamsport.com
Father’s Day Activities:
“Father’s Day Ideas” from Ministry to Children
“Father’s Day Trophy” from Preschool Crafts for Kids
“Father’s Day Rocks!” paperweight from Preschool Crafts for Kids
“Father’s Day Shirt and Tie Card Craft” from Preschool Crafts for Kids
“Father’s Day Handprint Card” from Crafty-crafted
“Two More Father’s Day Crafts” from Craftsforkidslets.com
“Father’s Day Printables and Cards” from Allcrafts.net (This site has several great ideas. Enjoy!)
Allkidsnetwork.com has several great Father’s Day ideas.
Other Father’s Day Sites:
“Easy Father’s Day Crafts” from Blue Paper