"Why this frenzy of sacrifices?"
"Don't you think I've had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don't you think I've had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?
"Quit your worship charades.
I can't stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You've worn me out!
I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I'll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I'll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you've been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don't have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.
Isaiah 1:11-17 (The Message)
I was talking to a friend yesterday who was telling me about a Sunday School debate that he was involved in where some in the class were arguing that God doesn't listen to us when we have unconfessed sin. Isaiah 1:15 was one of the proof text's that they were using to support this position.
Besides the fact that I personally think that it is hazardous to uncritically read the Old Testament without a good understand of the change that brought about by the Cross of Christ, I find it rather humorous that someone would use this particular passage to support such a claim. In context, what is God saying here? It looks to me like the people were in fact doing the confessing thing, and God was saying he's not going to listen to their confessions any more because it was just an insincere ritual. In reality this passage speaks against turning confession into a formula for getting your prayers answered. God doesn't play that game. "Come let us reason..." are the next words in this passage. God wants us to sit down and have a talk, because he knows that if we get to know him, it will begin to change us. Religious activities can't do that.