“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. – Isa. 58:1 NIV
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Between the Almighty God and the Israelites, there was no love lost as it was always the case of constant transgressions on the part of the Israelites and the Lord on his part expressing his dissatisfaction by making life unbearable for them, only for Him to forgive them the minute they show any sign of being remorseful and repentant. That however will not stop them from going back to sin once they begin to enjoy some form of reprieve and relief. The Prophet Isaiah had gone through this cycle on several occasions during his time as the prophet of God to the Israelites and on this occasion it was the Almighty God sending him to the Israelites to let them know why their prayers which they feel should be heard is not been heard, especially after all their spiritual acts aimed at seeking His mercy.
In a message that commenced with the Almighty God describing the Israelites as rebels and as already known sinners, he told the Prophet Isaiah to declare his current message to them loudly like one is blowing a trumpet. Yes! All people had to know why He the Lord was not heeding to the prayers of His people. That may be the Lord’s way of protecting His image as a listening and merciful God, after all, other nations around would have been seeing them get involved in all their spiritual activities which they will expect should be sufficient to earn them some reprieve from whatever negative experiences they may be going through. So if there is no change in their situation, those nations may begin to have second thoughts about the merciful personality picture that is being painted about Him.
In describing the Israelites as His people and rebels (Isa. 58:1), He was indicating that He had not stopped seeing them as His own except that they were still involved in acts that are definitely against His government. In what seems like actions aimed at not recognising His authority, they are getting involved in activities that tend to diminish His person and run contrary to his instructions. Even though He still considers them His people, He was not willing to tolerate acts that will bring His personality to disrepute. This is worsened by those obvious spiritual acts that present them as a people constantly seeking to satisfy the requirements of their god. To onlookers, they begin to wonder what this God really wants after all the obvious spiritual acts of the people, a reaction that further maligns, slanders and disreputes the personality of the Almighty God.
He not only sees them as rebels but sees them holding on to their acts of transgressions, even when they are presenting a picture of sincere and adherent worshippers of Him as they get more involved in all those spiritual acts.
According to the Almighty God, the Israelites;
- Present a daily picture of a people with a strong desire to know His ways – Isa. 58:2a. They are constantly at all those gatherings giving the impression of wanting to know Him more.
- They give the impression of a people who are right in their ways and have not forsaken the instructions of their God – Isa. 58:2b. They constantly identify and stay away from people who they have come to identify as unclean and sinners – Rev. 3:9.
- They even question why their prayers and fasting are not being acknowledged after all their acts of humility – Isa. 58:3a. They feel justified sufficiently to be heard in prayer due to their personal estimation of themselves as holy and righteous.
All the above presents them to the onlooker as a people who are very eager to satisfy a god that they are presenting as being insatiable. It is like nothing ever pleases Him. He probably seeks other things beyond what he claims he desires and this remains the picture that is knowingly or unknowingly being presented to observing nations about the personality of the Almighty God. They are simply defaming His person and this is unacceptable to Him.
Many Christians are in the same boat as the Israelites were then, today. They are involved in several physical acts that give the impression to onlookers that they are very spiritual and loyal to the Almighty God such that when some negative events begin to happen to them, such onlookers begin to wonder what else the Almighty God wants them to do after all their devotion. The truth however is that all such acts are at best considered hypocritical and pretentious by the Lord, just as the people concerned know in most cases that they are not been sincere in their acts – 1Jn. 1:10. The Lord says that with their acts and words, they give the impression of the possession of a strong desire to be close to Him but their hearts are far from Him – Isa. 29:13. Such people will definitely not be able to deceive the Almighty God even when they succeed in deceiving the onlookers as He is able to see through the deceitful hearts of men – Heb. 4:12. Such will just continue to worsen the case with Him because they then add to their already full bucket of sins, the sin of bringing the personality of God into disrepute.
Desist from all those acts of deceit and hypocrisy as the Almighty God cannot be deceived. Worship Him in truth (Jn. 4:23-24) and clear your mind of all those impediments that continue to create a barrier between Him and you. May God accept all our acts of worship in Jesus name. Amen.