Texts: Micah 6:1-8, Isaiah 6:1-8, Isaiah 1:11-15, Isaiah 58:1-10, Isaiah 44, Jeremiah 7:1-10
We continue with the subject of worship, how it is appropriately done and how it can often fall off into counterfeits and mere rituals.
In the lesson for this week, there are several biblical passages that warrant our careful study and reflection. All of them come from the ancient prophets, a rather challenging collection of individuals who often spoke out quite boldly against what they saw to be the errors of their time.
- Jeremiah 7:1-10 – notice how Jeremiah points to those who take confidence in their ability to indulge worship rituals, to go to the right places, to repeat the right sequence of words, to give the right offerings. Without the ingredient of openness toward God, without genuine regard for God, the rituals of worship are useless, worse than useless for they might well give a sense of false security to those who practice them.
- Notice particularly v. 4 and its almost mocking observation.
- Isaiah 44 – this is a chapter that contains a section that talks about the folly of idolatry, the making of idols and allocating to them divine prerogatives.
- Do you see any danger today that is in parallel to the situation long ago? While we don’t tend to make idols now of wood and stone and gold and silver, what idols might we in danger of making?
- Why might idol worship be worse than no worship at all?
- Isaiah 1:11-15 – this is a very interesting passage that reflects on the effect of behavior on worship. Or, to put it another way, if trust in God and worship of him does not affect everyday behavior, making it right and righteous, the result is that worship become hollow and God rejects it.
- Notice some of the particular items Isaiah mentions as being reprehensible to God.
- Isaiah 58:1-10 – in this section we read of the comments made by Isaiah about how going good and right things is of much greater consequence to God than indulging religious rituals.
- Interesting that comments are made here that God will not see or listen to the pleas of those who exploit others.
- Why do you think oppressing others is so reprehensible to God?
- Isaiah 6:1-8 – In this section of Isaiah, we read of the prophet’s initial encounter with God that brought him into prophetic service.
- What do you learn from this about the elements of true worship?
- Is worship something that we do, or is more like a natural response to a particular understanding of God?
- Why is it that humans are so prone to latching on to rituals and emblems of worship rather than contemplating God?
- What role do you see ritual playing in worship?
- What could be done to fill our minds with a sense of awe when we are at worship today?