To Worship and Glorify God: Isaiah 66 (1)
Pray Psalm 50.14, 15.
“Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
Read Isaiah 66.1, 2.
1. What is God seeking above all from us?
2. How does God teach us to think about His greatness?
God did not want His people to lose sight of His greatness. He has made enormous promises to them in the preceding chapters. But they were getting ready to go into captivity to a great king, in a mighty empire; and it might be that the greatness of Babylon’s power and grandeur would cause them to lose sight of God, and thus to fail to render what they owe to Him.
God’s people needed a big vision of God, and God gave it to them – His throne, the heavens (הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם, ha shamayim) – all the vast starry host that spreads throughout the cosmos and looms above the earth (v. 1). I think this translation is better than heaven (NKJV) because God’s people could not see that unseen dimension. They could look nightly upon the stars and remind themselves, “Our God rules above even these.” God is beyond the heavens, even though – as we continue to discover – their host numbers in the billions of billions. He rules above them, so that even the stars and galaxies obey His will and perform His Word.
The earth is His footstool, where He is pleased to rest His feet, to stop, to stay, to linger. He is with us from beyond the heavens, and He is resting on and among us (v. 1). The earth and everything in it is for the pleasure of God, and He does as He wills with it, according to all His Word.
His people would lament the loss of the temple in Jerusalem. But they should not long grieve for it, since not even Solomon’s splendid temple was sufficient as a resting place for God (v. 1). God allowed that temple to be built; and He allowed it to go out of existence (v. 2). Buildings, sacrifices, priests, feast days – these are not what God is seeking (cf. Ps. 50).
God seeks something other than the outward trappings of religion. He is seeking people who understand their spiritual poverty and come contritely before Him – people who tremble at His Word, both because they understand the consequences of disobeying it, and because they thrill at the prospect of realizing all the Lord promises there (v. 2). God sets His eye (look, NKJV, is too weak) on such people – to watch over them, surround them with favor, grant them strength, give them His Spirit, and bring the promises of His Word to fruition in and for and through them.
God’s people were about to lose everything they cherished. They must learn to cherish what God does, and to seek it in themselves and in one another: contrite, trembling, expectant hearts unto the Lord. For in so doing, they would know His presence resting with them, and realize that He was beginning His new creation, even as they went into captivity in Babylon.
1. How would you explain to a new believer what it means to have a contrite heart? How can we maintain such a heart before the Lord?
2. Would you say that you tremble at God’s Word in the way He is seeking? Explain.
3. Why are the inward facets and dynamics of religion more important to God than the outward?
If you are not “humble and peaceful,” the grace of the Holy Spirit cannot live within you, if you do not receive the divine words with fear. For the Holy Spirit departs from the proud and stubborn and false soul. Therefore, you ought first to meditate on the law of God that, if perhaps your deeds are intemperate and your habits disordered, the law of God may correct you and reform you. Origen (185-354 AD), Homilies on Leviticus 6.2.5
Create in me a clean and contrite heart, O God, so that I might…
Pray Psalm 50.
God calls us to worship Him, and this psalm tells us what He is looking for when we come before Him. Pray the psalm slowly and reflectively, and let the Spirit speak to you about the heart of worship God seeks.
Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 50 (Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
God, the Lord, the mighty Savior, summons all from east to west:
Out of Zion, rich with favor, shines He, of all things the best.
Come, O God, and keep not silence; fire devours before Your way!
He His Church, steeped in defiance, comes to judge this awful day.
“Gather now My children holy, those bound close to Me by blood.”
Let the heav’ns declare His glory, for the Lord Himself is Judge:
“Hear, My people, I will charge you; I alone am God, your God!
I will bring a solemn charge to gain you to Me for your good.
“Not for rituals I accuse you – let your worship to Me rise.
Naught to Me is any use, Who dwells in glory in the skies.
All is mine throughout creation; I your help do not require.
Offer Me no vain oblation: hear what I from you desire:
“Sacrifice of thanks now render; pay to God your solemn vows;
Let the troubled, each offender, seek Him in the midst of woes.
In the day of strife draw near Him; He will hear, and He will save.
Honor God, rejoice, and fear Him, give to Him your grateful praise.
“All of you My Word despising, who are you to claim My grace?
Praise may from your lips be rising, but you scorn Me to My face.
You approve of all transgressions, scheme against your mother’s son!
I will crush your vain aggressions and destroy what you have done.
“Reckon this, My sinful people, lest My wrath consume you whole:
None shall thwart Me when I seek to crush and break your sin-stiff soul.
He who thanks to Me addressing, follows after what is good,
He shall know the way of blessing coming from the hand of God.”
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 fromThe Ailbe Psalter (available byclicking here).