Pastor Steve Ellison
God really does expect righteous behavior from us. In Isaiah 1, God is plainly putting His people on notice that they are on trial. God is the accuser, prosecutor, judge, and executor of justice. No one else is capable of fulfilling any one of these duties. The created order, heavens, earth, beasts, and the father-son relationship testify concerning Israel’s rebellion against God. The people’s suffering under the natural consequences of their wickedness is given as further evidence of their rebellion. God’s permitting foreign nations to oppress and besiege them is additional proof of their guilt.
Verse nine introduces two scandalous and terribly offensive names, that will in the very next verse be applied to God’s people. Isaiah 1:9 indicates that perhaps Israel has finally understood the gravity of the situation, Unless the Lord of hosts Had left us a few survivors, We would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah. (NASU) At least some in Israel have come to the conclusion that except for the mercy of God, they would have already destroyed themselves as Sodom and Gomorrah had destroyed themselves.
Isaiah 1:10-13 indicates that Israel is ready for remedial instruction, Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah. “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer.” (NASU) God began the corrective teaching by calling them Sodom and Gomorrah! Evidently, they were closer to final destruction than they realized. Apparently, the people had continued to faithfully carry out the commanded sacrifices that were designed not to benefit God in any way but rather to draw attention to Jehovah as the reason for their righteous behavior. However, they had omitted the weightier part of the Law, which was to behave righteously. The sacrifices without righteous living curried no favor with God. In fact, He said they were trampling the hallowed courts of His holy Temple. God called their offerings worthless, but the passage plainly shows that they are worse than worthless, they are offensive and burdensome to God.
Isaiah 1:15 comes to perhaps the most tragic point, “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.”
(NASU) God is under no obligation to even hear our prayers much less answer them. Isaiah 1 and other places in both the Old and New Testaments indicate that God has clear expectations about how we live our lives. Right living has a definite bearing on our fellowship with God. Praying lengthy passionate sincere prayers is no guarantee that you are in fellowship with the Creator. Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, there is always one prayer that God stands ready to hear and answer. That is the prayer of repentance and faith. If you have not been born again, God will hear and answer your prayer of repentance brought about by godly sorrow. He will forgive you and accept your prayer of faith in Christ as risen Lord. That is the only way to be reconciled to God. If you have been born again, but have been out of fellowship with God, He will joyfully receive your prayer of repentance and restore you to fellowship.