Worship that covers sinful actions is not true worship and is not acceptable to God.
Words to the song “He Has Shown Thee O Man” for each member, blank paper, crayons, pencils
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Sing together the well-known song “He Has Shown Thee O Man” from Micah 6:8. Discuss what God requires of us. What does it mean to “do justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly” with God?
- On two sheets of paper, draw figures of a true worshiper and a counterfeit worshiper. What is each doing? What are their motives? Share the pictures with the group.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- Draw a picture of four icebergs, showing tips of ice above water and lots of ice below. Label the tips of the icebergs PRAYERS, OFFERINGS, SINGING, and SERMONS. At the bases of the icebergs, describe how these acts of worship can be false or deceptive.
- Thought Questions
Isaiah describes the wickedness of Judah by pointing to their acts of worship. Read Isaiah 1:11-15. How does God feel about their worship? Why?
- “I have had enough of burnt offerings…” (v. 11).
- “I do not delight in the blood of bulls…” (v. 11).
- “I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting…” (v. 13).
- “Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me…” (v. 14).
- “Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood” (v. 15).
The call of Isaiah to be a prophet happened in the sanctuary, a place of worship. Read Isaiah 6:1-8. How do the following parts of his experience stand in contrast with false worship of Judah?
- A powerful description of God (vv. 1, 2)
- The cry of the angels (seraphim) and the shaking of the temple (vv. 3, 4)
- The response to this scene by Isaiah, who says, “Woe is me…” (v. 5)
- The response of God to Isaiah when the seraphim takes a coal from the altar (vv. 6, 7)
- The response of Isaiah to God’s call (vv. 8, 9)
Isaiah calls for a reform in Judah’s worship practice of fasting. Read Isaiah 58:1-10. There is a depth in their fasting that is missing. What needs to change?
- Their fasting was too brief.
- While they were fasting, they exploited their laborers (v. 3).
- During their fasts, they spent more time arguing with each other than focusing on God (v. 4).
- God wanted them to lift other people’s burdens (v. 6).
- The Lord wished for Judah to think of hurting people during their fasts (v. 7).
Jeremiah also calls for a deep reform in worship. Read Jeremiah 7:1-10. Verse 8 warns, “You trust in lying words that cannot profit.” What does that mean?
- Just because you show up to worship God at the temple doesn’t necessarily make you holy.
- The fact that you are a child of Abraham does not guarantee you a place in heaven.
- Your words need to match your actions.
- Oppressing the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow shows where your heart is.
- You cannot partially serve Baal and partially serve God. It’s all or nothing.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to the larger group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Should we come to God in worship just the way we are or should we do a spiritual clean-up first? If the latter, what does that involve?
- Option 2: Isaiah 44 talks about the meaninglessness of idols that “profit nothing.” Make a list of idols that people in our generation hold dear. Will these idols be helpful in difficult times? What could each be replaced with now?
- Option 3: Read Jeremiah 7:1-9. True worship to God means to treat others with justice and kindness. Is there someone you’ve mistreated? If you feel comfortable, briefly describe the situation without naming names. Ask your group for advice on how to mend your relationship with this person and for prayer as you make the attempt.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Read Isaiah 6:1-8. Can you relate? Are your lips “unclean” because of gossip you’ve spread, hurtful words you’ve spoken, or lies you’ve told? God longs to take away your guilt and atone for your sin. You just need to ask.
- Once forgiven, Isaiah said to God, “Here I am. Send me!” Why not say the same to God today? Then listen on a daily basis to what God wants you to be or what God wants you to accomplish.