Every other time I've read through the Bible I've had a hard time grasping Isaiah. I'm not ready to claim that this time through will be any different, but I do feel a better understanding after having just read of Uziah's stupidity as a leader and the failure of the majority of Israel's and Judah's kings to lead in a way that brought honor to the Lord. As a pastor of students I have spoken with a number of parents who are grieved by the choices their kids have made. I think God used that analogy to help people understand the grief He felt as a result of Israel's rebelliousness. He cared deeply for His people and tried to direct them in the right way, but just as a rebellious teenager saddens his parents, so Israel saddened God by their disobedience to His commandments. The words in 1:11 are incredible: "I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goat." God didn't want there to have to be sacrifices for sins; He did it as an act of mercy on His people. God's desire all along was for obedience. I think we miss that sometimes in our culture. We tend to embrace the mantra that Paul spoke so vehemently against: grace is license to sin. God desires obedience more than anything else. More than flashy worship or gifted speakers; more than routine attendance or heartless repentance. God has always desired obedience – since the beginning of humanity. Sadly, the one thing God desires is often the thing He does not get. True repentance leads to ultimate obedience, and sin grieves God.
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Seth is a pastor, author, and speaker who lives in Batesville, Indiana. He is married to Kari, and they have two daughters, Madelyn and Noelle.