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Twofaced Artificial Religion (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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June 12, 2024 6:00 am

Twofaced Artificial Religion (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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June 12, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5


Next time somebody wants to use that lame old line, well if God is a God of love, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. God is a God of love but he's also a God of wrath.

And it's up to you which one you want to receive. He's not petty. He sees your sin. He knows you're not going to be perfect.

He's made mercy available for those things. But to come to him with this two-faced thing or to completely reject him, make mockery of him, don't expect mercy. Expect judgment. I have been just very sensitive to the anointing of God on me this week.

I feel like picking an argument with an atheist, but I don't believe atheists exist. So, and to me it just glares right off the page that the people that Isaiah is rebuking, or God is rebuking them through Isaiah, it is because of their two-faced religion, their artificial religion. And there is a lot of New Testament application here. What we find in the Old Testament, we find in the New Testament in one form or another.

And it is no surprise that Isaiah is the most quoted of the Old Testament prophets in the New Testament. Listen to Revelation 3 verse 1. To the angel of the church in Sardis write these things, says he who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. That is pretty intense to tell a church, yeah, your name says you are alive, but you are dead.

All the vitals are flat lined with you, spiritually speaking. And looking at that verse in Revelation, you have a name that you are alive, but I say you are dead. The angels might have looked at the church of Sardis, for example, and said, here we go again. It is just like Isaiah chapter 1. They were bringing their sacrifices to church and they did not mean it. It was all about them.

None of it was about God. And when you consider these things, hopefully, we consider ourselves a little bit. Let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11. Paul, of course, had to say that because there were those in that church that were a disaster, abusing the communion table. Well, that is an overview from the New Testament of this Old Testament passage, beginning in verse 10 of Isaiah 1. Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom. Give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah. Imagine addressing a congregation like that. Imagine on a Sunday morning a pastor coming out and instead of saying good morning and welcome to the house of the Lord, he says, hello everybody from Sodom and Gomorrah.

Where is the disconnect? You would think the people would hear the prophet say these things and fix up their act. But they did not believe it was God's voice. It is just Isaiah.

It's just a Bible thumper, a zealot for God. But it's not God speaking to us. Well, that's what they do today. You tell somebody, listen, God is not for abortion. Women's rights do not trump the right of another life. And we say life begins at conception. Well, they don't believe that because they don't believe God's word. And this is what we're up against when we share the gospel with people is to say, thus says the Lord.

That's what the devil has invested himself, his energies, his resources into convincing people that it's not God speaking. Has indeed God said, Eve? Did God really say that?

I don't think, even if he did say that, I don't know that you're getting it right, Eve. And this is what is going on here because you can't just read this and say, well, what a bunch of numskulls that they were so bad, they were so fake. Couldn't they hear what the prophet was saying? No, because they didn't believe it was God. Some did.

Many did not. Anyway, the primary responsibility of the prophet as where it says, hear the word of the Lord here in verse 10. The primary responsibility of the prophet is to communicate God's word to man, is to say this is what God is saying.

In contrast to the priest, the priests were responsible for communicating with God on behalf of the people through their ritual and their sacrifices. We New Testament believers are a royal priesthood, but we're also prophets in the sense that we have scripture. I don't mean predictive prophecy, just to quote scripture properly, dividing the word of truth, proper application of the lessons from scripture. Anybody can quote scripture.

Satan did it to the Lord in the wilderness, but is the application in line with the spirit and the holiness of God and the rest of scripture, of course. Sodom, as he says, hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom, and this is to their politicians, used as a symbol of sin paraded, unbridled. Sodom was proud of her sin.

It was a flourishing economy, incidentally. I'll quote Ezekiel in just a few moments, but Sodom is the parade of a sin-filled lifestyle. We see it in these homosexual parades because there's nothing gay about it. And this is just unbridled sin, and they think that they're going to get away with it, and they hate us for saying, hey, look, you're drowning in iniquity.

I'm not perfect, but I'm not that imperfect. I understand who the Lord is, and that's what matters. And Sodom, of course, becomes the poster child for depravity and judgment, but they don't believe it. Isaiah will use this a few more times throughout his prophecy. Ezekiel 16, speaking about Sodom and Gomorrah, says, look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom. She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, an abundance of idleness.

Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. It was pretty selfish, self-centered, that pride. The pride took an archangel and made a devil out of him. But God's mercy over all of it, in verse 9, speaks about the mercy of God. I'm going to take the time to go back, but it's certainly linked to what we're reading about here in verse 10.

Going forward, God's mercy. If it weren't for that, then Israel would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah, completely destroyed in judgment. Now, here Isaiah says they are more than like Sodom and Gomorrah, rulers of the people. They are Sodom and Gomorrah.

Pretty powerful. Hear the word of Yahweh, you rulers of Sodom. Calls him straight out. It's a metaphoric application that is appropriate. And he goes on and says, give ear to the law of God, you people of Gomorrah. To be addressed to Sodom and Gomorrah was charge and sentence at the same time. You're guilty, and the judgment that they got for their guilt, you're going to get for yours. And that happened, of course. You are like them, and you will be dealt with like them.

Of course, again, they didn't believe it. Verse 11. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? Says Yahweh. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and fat of fed cattle.

I do not delight in the blood of bulls or the lambs or goats. A question for people with a two-faced artificial religion with their useless worship. What purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices? What's the purpose of your religion?

If it is fake, if it is phony. And there was a lot of religion going on while the economy in Judah at the time Isaiah is speaking, because it went up and down in his ministry. He ministered almost 60 years.

But at this point, the economy was doing well when he makes this statement. And the people were bringing their fatted calves and showing off what they were going to devote to Yahweh. But what's the point of religion when the God of that religion is disrespected? Well, this is easy for us. We Christians, we get it. You don't really need a lesson.

But it might help to stir you to look at things in a way that, you know what, I can use that one. Because they reduced God to a mascot. We all know people like this. We pray that God will give us a chance to point out that God is not your mascot. He's not something to parade in front of you. Look at my religion while you go on about your business as though he is not alive.

He is not real. He does not hold you accountable. Religion is ineffective if it is insincere, if it is insubordinate. God wants both the outward and the inward. The outward and inward obedience. And so, Samuel said to Saul, who was a master at fake religion, Has Yahweh has great delight and burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh.

Behold, it is better to obey and to heed than the fatter of rams. Micah chapter 6, who ministered about the time, part of the time that Isaiah was ministering. You read these old prophets, if you read them straight through you can get pretty depressed if you're not careful.

Because can the people be that bad? Well, he says in chapter 6, favorite chapter of Micah, Micah at one point he says, You know, you would even make drunks, you're a prophet, you people are so messed up. Anyway, he says, with what shall I come before Yahweh and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions?

Well, pagans were doing some of that. The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul. Someone else is going to die for my sins, which is a twisted understanding of salvation. And then Micah says this, He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. He just reduces, he takes the Ten Commandments and he just reduces it down and just says, Who are you faking?

Who are you kidding? You know what God wants, and it's not too much to ask of you, but you're not giving any of that, no. You want to do the sensational things that cost somebody else something, so you can look good in your fake religion. And so, back to Isaiah, he says in verse 11, To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me, says Yahweh? Well, again, at times the Jewish people permitted their sacrifices to be empty ritual, but it is also true that there were those that were genuine in their offerings, and we just want to keep that balance before us. I mean, Isaiah lived at this time. His offerings, yeah, he too made offerings. They were genuine and a blessing to God and a blessing from God for it.

God continues to speak through the man. He says, I have had enough burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. Well, the fattened animals were especially fattened for sacrifice, and they were a more expensive offering. So if you purchased a fatted calf, you paid more than one that was just kind of free roaming, and you were showing off. Look at my sacrifice.

Look at your little puny little thing over there. I do not delight in the blood of bulls or lambs or ghosts. God is saying, you're missing the point of the sacrifice. And the fat and the blood, these were essential parts of Levitical offerings. You couldn't have Levitical offerings without it. Leviticus 17, for the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement of the soul. It's a sacrifice.

Something else died because of you. Back to Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, God had to slaughter animals to cover their nudity for their conscience sake. Things would have went further awry had God not addressed it. And so God's insistence that he does not want burnt offerings would be surprising to them.

What do you mean? We're raised Jews. This is what we do. It's part of our religion. You go tell some people, God's not interested in your little candles. Oh, God is so much better off today because you lit a candle for him or for somebody else. You're missing the point.

They're very serious about those candles and other things like that. Instead of a sweet aroma, it was an unpleasant experience for God because it was a lie. What does that smell? The same animal being sacrificed by a righteous person and one being sacrificed by a two-faced hypocrite, the same animal and to one God would say a sweet smelling aroma and to the other it is odious to me.

It is an offense to me. And before, an interesting thing, before Isaiah finishes with all of his prophecies, when we get to chapter 53 about the righteous servant, the Christ, let's know what he says about an acceptable offering. Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him.

He has put him to grief. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand. God will be pleased with the sacrifice of the cross and the fruit that comes from it. The souls, salvation of souls, the disciples that come, that's the seed that he's referring to in Isaiah 53. And so it's just interesting here that God is saying, I do not like those sacrifices because they're false, but this is the model sacrifice.

It's almost like Isaiah never loses touch with all that's going on because he doesn't. The Spirit of the Lord is upon him also as a prophet of God. Verse 12, When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand to trample my courts?

Satire runs through the rebukes. This is God, you know? When you come before me, when you come to church, who is required from your hand to trample my courts?

So, pretending on the outside that you care on the inside when you don't, and God sees it in making them two-faced. But what he says, you trample my courts. He is saying the noise of your feet is the only thing you're offering up. I hear you're trampling my courtyards.

That's all I'm getting. A crowd of people with empty hearts, and all their suffering was the result of artificial religion, all of it. You know, there's the curse, of course, but God balanced that out in his promises, which they routinely did not avail themselves of as a nation. Verse 13, Bring no more futile sacrifices. Incense is an abomination to me. The new moons, the Sabbath, and the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meetings. Bring no more futile sacrifices.

What's the operative word there? Futile. Vain. In vain they worship me. Meaningless offerings. Gifts of nothing. They knew the story of Cain, that God rejected his religious offerings.

They knew this story from childhood. Cain's evil was the rejection of God's view. He didn't side, he didn't agree with God, and he didn't care. He's going to jam down God's throat his type of religion. Yeah, I know he wants a blood sacrifice.

I'm bringing him this. And he couldn't handle it when God said, get that away from me. I'm not, no, I reject that. It was not a single act of sin, but a single act of the heart that made Cain who he was. When God reached out to him, if you do right, if you do right, it's going to go right, but if not, sin is at the door, and it's crouched, waiting for you. And so he read in 1 John, Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him?

Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous. Now there's John writing, he is a Jew, he's raised in a Jewish world. He knew the story of Cain. And so did these people in the days of Isaiah.

And John gets it right. And he does not give any quarter to the memory of Cain. There's nothing about Cain that is redeeming. There are few people like that in the Bible.

There's just nothing about them that's good. Not on record, and there's some people like that in life. Most of those people in life, they blow a lot of smoke screens around themselves, and a lot of people can't see through it. Oh, he's such a nice guy, why don't you like him? You like that guy? I just got two enemies in one day. I mean, not really, but you know, you're disappointed when someone is, when an aunt brings an aardvark home.

Hi mom, what could be wrong with him? As he wipes out the nest, right? Incense is an abomination to me. Me too, Lord.

Moving on, no. Some of you weren't around in the 60s and 70s when incense was the big thing. You walk into everybody's house, there was incense going on. Was that Captain Crunch? No, I don't think there's a Captain Crunch cereal, incense.

There should be. Anyway, the smell of their religion was foul to God. And that's what he's saying. The smell of your religion is an abomination to me. It's not a sweet smelling aroma, as it was with Noah. After all Noah went through. Steps off the ark and worships God. Genesis 8 20.

Then Noah built an altar to Yahweh and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar and Yahweh smelled a soothing aroma. Yes, this man's heart is right. It is expressed through the sacrifice of animals. As I've told him to do. This is right. Take another man offering up the same animals as I mentioned earlier and his heart could care less about what God wants.

Just playing the game. And to that one God says, it is an abomination to me. And he goes on and here in verse 13, the new moons, the Sabbath and the calling of assemblies. Well, Israel's days, the new moon marked their month. Every new moon was the beginning of a month and they had to offer sacrifices for that beginning of the month.

Their lunar calendar was set by the natural cycles that God of the seasons and the days that God has put in place. And they were merely checking the box. Well, there are people like that. They go to church to check the box. Some will only go at holiday seasons.

It's happening here too. It's artificial interest in God. How unlike this psalmist. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Be thankful to him and bless him.

It doesn't say if your life is going smoothly. As Job said, the Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thank God there's more to life than this life. Well, the laws of Moses were handed to the people of God and they were to follow those laws because they were interested in God. They wanted to please him, same with the Christian. We try to obey Christ because we love him. Well, you know what? He's got a good policy. That's a better way to do it.

Oh, it is a better way. But our motive is love. We love him. And their unbridled sin taunted God. It made mockery of his omniscience. It said that doctrine of God knowing everything, he doesn't know everything because he can't see what we're doing.

And they were wrong. And the prophet is trying to tell them that. He says, I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meetings. Strong language to describe temple worship.

Meaningless, detestable, unbearable. God said, I just can't stomach you people. Well, that's what he did, you know, the church at Laodicea. I vomit you out of my mouth. How do you get any more intense than that?

I mean, that's like maxed out. What did the Lord say about that church? He never say that about this church. So Isaiah, again, with this insight that he has, he will end his last chapter speaking about keeping these feasts of the new moons and the Sabbaths the right way.

He never is out of touch. And you can't, you just can't make that up. Verse 14, your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hates. They are trouble to me.

I am weary of bearing them. Well, next time somebody wants to use that lame old line, well, if God is a God of love, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. God is a God of love, but he's also a God of wrath.

And it's up to you which one you want to receive. He's not petty. He sees your sin. He knows you're not going to be perfect.

He's made mercy available for those things. But to come to him with this two-faced thing or to completely reject him, make mockery of him, don't expect mercy. Expect judgment. And here, your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hates. This is an emphatic incident.

In the Hebrew and in the English, it is emphatic. To this day, God detests baloney religion. Thanks for tuning in to Cross Reference Radio today. Cross Reference Radio is a ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel, Mechanicsville in Virginia. If you'd like to learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit our website,

You'll find a number of teachings from Pastor Rick available there. We also encourage you to subscribe to our podcast. When you subscribe to our podcast, you'll be notified of new editions of Cross Reference Radio. Just search for Cross Reference Radio on your favorite podcast app. You can also follow the links at We're glad we were able to spend time with you today. Tune in next time to continue learning from the book of Isaiah with Pastor Rick right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-12 08:36:14 / 2024-06-12 08:45:55 / 10

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