Squandered opportunities – Friday, 2nd week in advent – Isaiah 48:17-19

In the past chapters we have heard of Babylon’s final fate. But the very idea of a peoples fate has turned Isaiah’s attention on Israel. It has put Israel under the microscope. Is Israel so much better than other countries just like are we better than others? No, they are not. The only difference is that God has a purpose for Israel, just as He has a purpose for you and me.

Isaiah chapter 48 almost seems to be a sermon that Isaiah gave to the Israelite exiles in Babylon as they worshipped in a synagogue on a day of penitence. These verses are the most confrontational against the gods of the nations. But the Lord here is not talking only to the heathen nations, he is also talking directly to the Israelites. They should know better than to worship heathen gods and idols.  

God’s children were being stubborn. Though all were not guilty, the whole community was judged as one community. Many still stood firm against Yahweh and clung to idols, and did not want to respond to him under any circumstances. Of the rest, some were sincerely worshipping God while others were going through the motions of worship. Their outward expressions of faith were hollow and untruthful.

While the people invoke God’s name they have a personal agenda, an outcome they were looking for; they lay claim that they are God’s people but by their behaviour they were no a different from those who do not invoke God’s name. There should have been some evidence of salvation but somehow the message does not match the manner. The fruit of their lives outside the sanctuary is nothing like the guise of godliness in the sanctuary.  The Lord  makes it clear, he can neither be deceived nor tolerate such hypocrisy (verses 4 and 8).

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