Isaiah 66:1-6:

This is a tale of two types of people – those who respond appropriately to God and those who don’t; those who have true religion and those who have trivial ritual

‘’What sort of house could you build for me? What holiday spot reserve for me? I made all this! I own all this!’’ GOD’s Decree. ‘’But there is something I’m looking for: a person simple and plain, reverently responsive to what I say.’’ The Message.

There is a danger of putting too much emphasis on buildings. They can take on an iconic status and be (almost) worshipped. There is no preoccupation with church buildings in the New Testament. It is clear that the people form the church; they are God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9). This is not to say that it is wrong for a church to have a building. If the church is going to meet it will be in some kind of building. But we must never think that God lives in a man-made building. God’s temple in Jerusalem was only ever a symbol of His dwelling place among men (Acts 7:48-50). People are His temple; people who humbly and receptively bow before Him and His Word (2; see also Isaiah 57:15).

However, people who respond positively to God won’t necessarily find life easy. They will be a counter-cultural group in society, and will swim against the tide. They will be opposed by others who want to go their own way. They will be on a collision course with secular society.

‘’ But listen to what GOD has to say to you who reverently respond to his Word: ‘’Your own families hate you and turn you out because of me. They taunt you, ‘Let us see GOD’s glory! If God’s so great, why aren’t you happy?’ But they’re the ones who are going to end up shamed.’’

The most fierce opposition to God-fearing people may well come from those who are merely religious. There was a lot of religion in Isaiah’s day, but the people wrapped up in it carried on living how they chose. The religious do not like humble, simple, godly people who love God and His Word and who live to obey it. They can be violently and murderously angry with them. The people described in (3 and 4) are always liable to persecute those described in (2 and 5). This is part of the cost of true discipleship. It is important to remember that in the end they will not win. God says through Isaiah that he hates merely ritualistic acts of worship (see Proverbs 15:8). In God’s eyes they are equivalent to brutality and idolatry. These things are ‘’abominations’’ to Him (3b).

‘’Your acts of worship are acts of sin: Your sacrificial slaughter of the ox is no different from murdering the neighbour…You choose self-serving worship, you delight in self-centred worship – disgusting!…You did the very things I exposed as evil, you chose what I hate.’’ The Message.

Prayer: Help me today, and every day, to humbly respond to your Word, Lord. If this means that I am despised and mis-understood, strengthen me to endure it. I want to cheerfuly carry the cross for you.