Isaiah1:11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I [a]have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires [b]of you this trampling of My courts?
13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them. ”
If God requires people to keep Sabbath and keep festivals, He certainly is changing it up here in Isaiah. “Hate”is a strong word for something supposedly necessary and sacred to God.
But looking at it from a New Covenant perspective, we see that He does not require it. He is after the heart and He always was. It’s not about keeping festivals and Sabbaths; if it were, He would be pleased with Judah in this passage. Instead, He’s disgusted with them. The only explanation for this is their hearts were far from Him and it made everything they did, even keeping tenets of the law, undesirable.
Even more interestingly, sacrifices didn’t make it any better. In vs. 11, God says He’s tired of the sacrifices. What kind of God is this that demands all this and then when it is given is still not satisfied or pleased?
It is the God who isn’t appeased by trinkets and the superficial. He is after intimate communion with whosoever will believe. It will never be enough to complete the Law. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us what it means to please God. We believers have laws written on our hearts where the requirements are not easily defined or measured.
The beauty of the new covenant is that we have the Holy Spirit to teach us in the moment what is required for the moment. God wants a relationship, Father to child, Groom to bride, King to servant, God to a holy people…levels upon levels of depth and ways of relating. He is so far above and unreachable. That is why He came to us and became God-with-us.
The Law wasn’t getting deep enough. It only dealt with externals. He has always longed and hoped it would lead to internals. That is why He was tired & disgusted with Judah…they were not relating to Him; they were throwing Him a bone, thinking it was required. And if He were requiring it, He would have been thrilled with that bone. But He hated it instead, longing for His people to long for Him.
In summary, Judah was keeping the Sabbath, the feasts, and giving sacrifices for sins, but it didn’t count at all. It didn’t satisfy God. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t even desired by God. It was even hated by God. It’s not about which Law you keep…It’s about whether you are obedient from your heart to the law written on your heart by the circumcising finger of God and taught to your heart by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is the place where your works are either pleasing or not and that is where freedom in Christ begins.
Nothing is required, yet because of the overwhelming gratefulness and love we have for Him because of who He is and what He has begun in us, we seek actively to do everything He nudges us to do thru the Holy Spirit. Must we, from God’s perspective? Legally, no. Must we, from my heart crying “Abba Father”? My response is “I will do anything, be anything, go anywhere because I have been bought by blood”. But the legal requirement, exoskeleton Law has been removed, completed, fulfilled, wineskin burst by Jesus’ death.
The law of Love has changed everything. And for the better!