Lesson – 9 “Trust Not in Deceptive Words”: The Prophets and Worship

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Read for your study: Isa. 1:11–15, 6:1–8, Isaiah 44, 58:1–10, Jer. 7:1–10, Mic. 6:1–8.

Memory Text: ‘Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come—yes, let him foretell what will come’ (Isaiah 44:7, NIV).

Introduction:

God has always warned His people about their unfaithfulness to Him through His major prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Isaiah prophesied to the nation of Judah in the eighth century before Christ. Jeremiah prophesied to Judah during the time its people were being carried into the Babylonian Captivity. Ezekiel was taken into Babylon with the second group of captives. He was called by God to prophesy to the captives in Babylon. Daniel was in the first group who were taken captive. He served God as a prophet in the courts of the king of Babylon.

Isaiah foretold the coming of the Babylonian Captivity (Isaiah 39). Jeremiah preached to the people of God and told them to accept the period of captivity as just punishment from God for their sins (Jeremiah 25). Ezekiel spoke of the return from Babylon (Ezekiel 20:39-44). Daniel foretold what would happen to the Jews after the time of the Babylonian Captivity (Daniel 8-11).

Yet the children of Israel never learnt their lesson in spite of being in the captivity. From the time He brought them out of Egyptian captivity till they went into the Babylonian captivity and even when they were out of Babylon they still didn’t get it. They kept going back into idolatry, worshiping other gods. They had forgotten that:

  • They needed to understand the reason for the captivity.
  • They needed to turn from the worship of idols and return to worshiping God.
  • They also needed to correct the mistaken idea that they would speedily return to their homeland. But before they could return to their homeland, they had to first return to God!

Still God kept working with His people.

Question: Why do you think God continues working with His people after hundreds of years?

Isaiah 48:9-11 gives us the explanation. The lord tells through Isaiah, “For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.

This week’s lesson is not just about worship but what happens outside of worship. It is about daily living, our day to day life. Does God care about what we do during the rest of the week? Let us dive into our study and learn more about worshiping God!

A Thousand Rams?

The separation that sin has caused between God and man can never be removed by our own efforts. The sinner can never receive salvation on his own merits. It is by God’s grace that we are saved.

Salvation comes as a gift from God based on our faith in Jesus Christ for we read in Acts 4:12 that ‘there is no other name under heaven by which we are saved.’

If we think our good works can atone for our sins and that we can receive salvation by our good works then there was no need for Jesus to die on the Cross. The Scriptures clearly says in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Ellen White counsels us that “From age to age these counsels were repeated by the servants of Jehovah to those who were in danger of falling into habits of formalism, and of forgetting to show mercy. (RH, April 1, 1915 par. 16).

Several previous lessons have suggested that the true worship of God means that we recognize God for who He is and respect and reverence Him for that reason.

Question: Could we do that on the weekends in church and still do all sorts of terrible things during the week?

We are to fear God and show mercy for He spoke through Hosea, “For I desired mercy and not sacrifice…

 The Call of Isaiah

The people of Judah seemed to be prospering spiritually under the reign of several good kings. The temple services were well-attended by all with enthusiasm. But God calls Isaiah at this very time.

Question: Why do you think God calls Isaiah for His special work? What was that special work which God wanted him to do?

Though the people of Judah were attending the temple on Sabbath and prospering spiritually, yet the Israelites were then going to the fertility cult religious sites the rest of the week. It was this evil act of Israel that called Isaiah on the scene with a special message from God.

Isaiah lived 150 years before Jeremiah. He was born into an aristocratic family who advised the King. Isaiah receives his prophetic call in a vision during Temple worship. As an observer, Isaiah does not see God directly, only the train of his garment (i.e, his glory).

In the presence of God, Isaiah was anxious for his life because, in the face of such divine power, he could die. He was one of a sinful people who spoke with “unclean lips” (i.e., those who said one thing and did another). But his “sin” is removed by the touch of a burning coal to his lips; now Isaiah would only speak the truth and be single hearted. With this sin removed he could speak in the holy court. (Verses 6-7).

God calls out for a prophet. Here, Isaiah’s anxiousness turns to willingness. The “clean” Isaiah becomes God’s prophet. (8)

Question: What would you do if God the Father suddenly showed up in your Sabbath school class? Would you respond as Isaiah did?

When Isaiah saw God, he thought of two things:

  1. The Holiness of God.
  2.  His own sinfulness and unworthiness.

Question: How do you think you would respond if God appeared to you? How did Adam and Eve respond when God appeared to them and walked and talked with them in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden? How did Abraham respond when those three strangers walked down the dusty road to his home? (Genesis 18:1-5; Hebrews 13:2)

Isaiah was a witness to God’s power, first as an observer, then as a prophet. We are called to be God’s witnesses, by what we see in our world and by what we do in our world. Seeing God’s power requires prayer; doing God’s will requires honesty, purpose and faith.

Note: Think for a moment what our worship services would be like if the worshipers sense that they have been in the presence of our Holy God, which in turn makes them deeply aware of their own sinfulness and need of His saving grace and cleansing power. Imagine the worship experience if the singing, the liturgy, the prayer, and the preaching worked together in a way to lead us each time to faith, to repentance, to cleansing, and to a willingness to cry out, “Here I am; send me.”

No More Vain Oblations

The writing of the Old Testament, especially the writings of the prophets, was written as admonitions and warnings to God’s promised people, to the ones who were His “true church.” Most of these people had a basic understanding of biblical truths, knew the right things to say and do in worship and professed to follow the true God. Yet, they forgot the purpose of these writings and were nowhere close to it. It became a vain oblation to God, a mere outward show of worship.

So, God tells them in Isaiah 1:11–15 that your offerings and sacrifices have no meaning. He tells them to ‘stop bringing meaningless offerings for they have become burden to me.’

Question: Why had their offerings and sacrifices become meaningless to God?

They had become meaningless because they did not do the right things in His sight. They did not worship Him whole heartedly.

Isa. 1:16–18 gives the answer saying, “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Then after that the Lord says, ‘come let us reason together…

Question: What does this passage mean?

God wants His people to be not only listeners of the word but also doers of the word. They must be practicing people. ‘Let every member of the church closely examine his heart and investigate his course of action, to see if these are in harmony with the Spirit and work of Jesus’ says, Ellen White (RH August 4, 1891, par. 5).

Question: What would happen to us as individuals if we truly were being changed each day to become more like Jesus?

There would be a revival in every heart, and in every church member a spirit of faithfulness will awaken.

‘Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 482.

 The word of God recorded in Jeremiah 7:1–10 tells that false religion is worthless and trusting to deceptive words is worthless. This will take us away from God and the true worship and we will also lose sight of the true character of God.

Ellen White echoes this thought saying, “In losing sight of the true character of Jehovah, the Israelites were without excuse. Often had God revealed Himself to them as one ‘full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.’ Psalm 86:15.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 311, 312.

Thought Questions: What is our Christian experience with the Lord, with other believers and non- believers. What are the main things that hinder us or prevent us from living the kind of Christian lives we know we should? How many times during each day do we say or do things that are slightly dishonest?

In Isaiah’s day, they were worshiping man-made idols. Do we ever turn even good things into idols in our day?

If we are worshiping in a new church for which we have put forth considerable effort and expense to construct, do we take pride in it even suggesting that God should reward us for what we have done?

Let us take pride to worship the Lord each Sabbath, making our worship experience more meaningful and blessed!

God Bless You!!!

 

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