“Then came the morning“ – I see a picture of the whole old Testament – the history of God’s people – almost covered in darkness – until Jesus comes – “then comes the morning“ and everything changes where there was darkness and doubt and misunderstanding there is now light.
“ I have come to show you the perfect man and from the moment I rose that is available through forgiveness and the presence of my spirit to each one who believes and receives Me. Yes each person carries scars of some sort in their hearts and spirits – some are much deeper than others – but everyone has scars – but once you receive Me, I start healing those scars – not necessary taking them away but using them to build each person’s character into who they are today. Using the scars as building blocks, as it were. When the final morning comes who you are now will be completed and my purpose will be finally fulfilled in you. So allow me to continue this work of healing in my own unique way for each of you”.
We’ve reached Isaiah 58. Why not read through it and let God show you the powerful message it contains? Powerful, especially because it speaks to us so strongly today. The opening sentence affirms that: “Shout out aloud, don’t hold back”.
Okay so do you see what the message is? The people of God are very actively practicing their religion. They say they are seeking God day by day (v 2), they are fasting (v 3), they have even been keeping the Sabbath. But what is wrong? God is showing them that while they are appearing to be so religious, their actions are showing the complete opposite. It is all summed up in the phrase, “you do as you please” (V 3), bracketed with vs 13 a.
Allow that to sink in. This underlies so much of what is false and shallow in religious observation. Doing as one pleases rather than what pleases God. But that again reflects another much deeper problem. Although they appear to be worshiping, that is just a superficial veneer, their hearts have not been changed. IOW true religion starts from a changed heart and reflects a desire to please God.
In that context then, keeping the Sabbath would only have true meaning if they were doing it from their hearts, demonstrating a true submission to and worship of Yahweh. Understanding its meaning under the New Covenant, it highlights the need to have an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus through the Spirit, if our “religious practices” are to have their true meaning. This intimate relationship will only be demonstrated to be real if it is reflected in an ongoing changed behaviour. The words in John 15:5 “If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear fruit” are so true. I am afraid that many people think they are OK as Christians as long as they practice outward religion, not flowing from the heart. That is like giving a rusted old car a new coat of paint. It may look different but underneath it is still falling apart.