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I keep wondering why people keep losing focus on the big picture. People tend to dig in and drill down to the details and seek the nitty gritty. That somehow usually leads them down the road to what are called minor details. But when the details become a distraction, I often am reminded of that notion that the devil is in the details. Ain’t he, though?

We can get lost on that fact that God is talking down to Israel and Judah. We can get caught up to God calling them out of their name. We have to see beyond God pleading with them to return to Him with repentance and a rejection of other gods. We have to see the big picture is that God was wronged by both Judah and Israel and that this prophecy is part of how things play out between God and them as their inevitable punishment is on the way. If we lose sight of he big picture here, we will continuously wrestle with the minor details and miss the message that God has for us to glean from this Old Testament prophecy.

How God Responds to Sacrifices

“. . . Your burnt offerings are not acceptable nor your sacrifices sweet to me.” (v. 20, NKJV)

Think about what God is saying right here. He just finished sharing how this nation has refused to return to Him. In fact, He shares that they are not even ashamed of the abomination that they committed against Him. He shared that he had set watchmen to sound the trumpet, but they had hardened their hearts and refused to listen. Check out verses15-17 in chapter 6 to see what I am saying.

Compare this to God’s sentiments in Isaiah 1:10 regarding sacrifices and offerings. If you lined those verses up side by side, they might pass for twins or at least kissing cousins. They are so similar in the subject matter and the sentiments of God’s seething rage and fury. In essence, He is not impressed with the ritualistic displays of the so-called holy nation. Nor is He interested in their sacrifices and burnt offerings, even new moon celebrations and similar activities. God basically says that they can keep all of that.

What God Truly Desires

God’s desire is for more than sacrifices. God’s desire extends beyond burnt offerings. Even though it might be the first born or the best of the best from among your flock, it is not at the top of God’s list for what he wants from us.

Take these two verses to Hosea 6:6 and Psalm 40:6. These verse share that our offerings are not worthy of God’s attention when our hearts are not in the right place. Amos 5:22 says that God will neither receive or regard these offerings. In the following verse, he says he doesn’t even want to hear them sing their songs. In verse 24, He simply speaks on justice and peace. In Micah 6:8 adds: “And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What does this tell you about ritualistic religion and relationships?

What is God’s desire?

Doing Just as God Desires of Us

We cannot offer God anything in place of what he desires from us. All of what we bring forth is futile and meaningless unless we have sought to fulfill the desire of God. We cannot expect Him to be pleased with our outward activity if we have not cleansed and cleared out a place for Him in our hearts. God desires to be in a relationship with us as His people.

God back to chapter 4 and the calling for the people of God to circumcise their hearts. Look at this chapter where it is said that: “Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. . .” (v. 10, NKJV). Keep in mind that the circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and His people. It was an outward sign of a spiritual commitment. What God is saying is that our spiritual commitment and connection with Him should be binding like a covenant and it should keep us tied to Him beyond the outward trappings of offerings, sacrifices, and the semblance of symbolic worship.

“And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” – Matthew 12:7.

Think about it as we read chapter 6 this week. Be sure to tune in to our midweek livestream Bible study discussion on this chapter on Wednesday at 11 AM PST via YouTube. Look at it as a boost to your Bible reading and Bible study as you seek to devour the Word on your own.

Check out last week’s Bible Study session with Pastor Powell & myself

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