By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
On occasion, God puts a unique message on my heart. It’s a message that burns and simmers, desperately begging to be shared. This kind of message lingers, making it’s home in my thoughts, tumbling around inside my head for days on end, and like a snowball rolling down a hill, it gathers and grows until it cannot be contained.
Today’s devotional is such a message. Please know that I have not written this callously or thoughtlessly. Rather it’s a message with which I believe God has been challenging me, and now I pass the challenge on to you. My prayer is that it will burn and simmer in your heart just as it has in mine. It will take form over two days. Today is day one. Make sure to read day two tomorrow.
I want to take us to what may be a familiar passage from the book of Isaiah chapter 1. Yahweh is speaking:
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me…When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!” (v. 13, 15).
Does it ever occur to us that God may find our worship detestable? That what we do throughout the week may taint the praise we raise on Sunday? That our actions may stop up the ears of God?
What was it that the Israelites were doing that caused God to grow so angry with their “fake” worship? I think we find the answer when we look at what it is that God calls them to:
“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” (v. 16-17).
The Israelites were doing evil. But it was so much more than that. They were ignoring the needs of the oppressed. They failed to defend the widow and the orphan from the difficulties of life.
In a word, God says you have failed to seek justice.
Even in reading that word, some of us may cringe. Justice has become a buzz word that causes many to shut down instantly. It’s been intertwined with political parties and controversial organizations. It has come to the point that it’s much easier to avoid talking of justice altogether to avoid offending someone or taking sides.
I think our culture is quick to place people in a box. Conforming people to a political party or ideology is best because then we can decide whether we have to listen to their message. But the beautiful thing about God is that he will never fit in our box. He isn’t represented by a political party. So when he speaks of justice, we can throw everything else we think we know out the window.
And guess what? God cared about justice, a lot. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow. But when God talks about justice, we better listen.