The Scriptorium

Be Careful What You Worship

Israel worshipped the wrong god. 

All Things New: Isaiah 65(4)

Pray Psalm 135.1-4.

Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD;
Praise Him, O you servants of the LORD!
You who stand in the house of the LORD,
In the courts of the house of our God,
Praise the LORD, for the LORDisgood;
Sing praises to His name, for it ispleasant.
For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself,
Israel for His special treasure.

Read Isaiah 65.11-16.

1. What does God promise His servants?

2. Why did God reject His people?

This passage is about those who “forsake the LORD” (v. 11). Who are these people? What becomes of them? And what does God promise those who faithfully worship and serve Him?

Those who forsake God worship other gods. It’s not that they are not religious. Indeed, they can be very religious, and look, for all appearances, as though they are in fact true believers. They even think so themselves. But in the depths of their hearts, they worship things other than God (v. 11). They worship Gad – a pagan deity associated with good fortune, or happiness. They also worship Meni – a false deity associated with numbers and numbering. People who, in the guise of worshiping God, are really worshiping happiness and good numbers are those who have forsaken the Lord. 

What they can expect is not to be happy or to be sustained by their numbers, but to know the judgment of God, because they did not seek Him (v. 12), but pursued things that were not pleasing to Him, because they were worshipped instead of Him.

The true worshipers (servants, vv. 13-16) of God may expect abundant blessings from Him, not because they seek the blessings, but because they seek and serve Him. All their needs will be met. They will be filled with joy and will sing to the Lord. God’s true servants bless themselves by His Word, and rely only on His truth. The false worshippers will hunger and thirst, but not be filled. Their false gods cannot provide what can only be found in the Lord. Those who forsake the Lord will be ashamed and sad, because God will withhold Himself from them. Those who truly worship God will rest in Him, and all their troubles and fears will be behind them (v. 16). They will even have a new name – Christian.

God spoke through Isaiah to tell His people how they may expect to prosper during their captivity and into the days of promise. He told them to be careful what they worshipped.

He says the same to us.

1. How can you tell what someone really worships?

2. Do Christians sometimes seem to worship God only for happiness and big numbers? Why should we worship God?  

3. If we truly worship God, He will give us everything we want or need. Explain.

He has already mentioned this name. It is new and not old. For after the appearance of Christ the master, those who believed were called Christians. They bore this in place of all approving words. When one wished to praise, they were accustomed to add after many kind words, “He is a true Christian.” And when on another occasion exhorting someone, they were accustomed to say, “Act as a Christian, do what befits a Christian.” So this name is full of eulogy and blessing. Theodoret of Cyr (393-466 AD), Commentary on Isaiah 20.65.15-16

Thank You for the new name You have given me, Lord. Help me to do what befits a Christian today as I…

Pray Psalm 135

Linger over the various sections of this psalm, as you follow its lead in praising the Lord, and in making sure you are serving Him and Him only.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 135 (St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
Praise the Savior, praise Him, for His Name is good. 
Sing, for it is pleasant, to our glorious God!
All whom He has chosen and redeemed by grace, 
praise His Name together, praise Him in this holy place!
Refrain v. 1
Praise the Name of Jesus, you who serve His Word!
Raise your voice and praise our good and glorious Lord!

Great and sovereign, Jesus rules o'er all above, 
doing as He pleases, sovereign in His love.
Clouds and seas obey Him, lightning, too, and rain; 
He the winds brings forth in pow'r and sends them back again.

Egypt's firstborn fell to God's redeeming pow'r.
Kings and nations crumbled in redemption's hour.
He the land of promise to His people gave.
Thus His Kingdom Jesus gives to all He's pleased to save.

Evermore Your Name, O Savior, shall endure!
Your renown throughout all ages is secure.
For You have compassion, vindicating all
those who serve Your Name and on Your saving mercy call.

Vain the nations serve the idols of their hands; 
mouths and ears they have but cannot understand.
Every idol vain is, lacking life or breath; 
all who serve them, like them, shall be lost to lasting death.

Bless the Lord you people, all who love the Lord!
Bless Him, you who trust His sovereign, holy Word!
Bless the Lord from Zion, Him Who in it dwells; 
praise Him! Lift your voices, all His grace and glory tell!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.