Shut The Doors
Verse 10 is the most frightening of all for me. God the Father says, "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates...I am not pleased with you." God didn't want anyone to visit Him in the temple or offer anything to Him. Here we see God saying 'I would rather you shut the doors than pretend to worship me.' Pastors, I implore you to let those words sink in for a minute...or for a lifetime. God has no interest in fakers or pretenders. When people showed up to "worship" God without any real sacrifice, it offended the Lord of Hosts. God goes on to say that it "profanes" His name and insults Him. This makes me wonder about the thousands of services I've helped lead and wonder if any of them insulted the Lord because I did not bring my best.
Not In The Temple
The big issue that Jesus has with them is that they are all show and no substance. The religious leaders of Jesus' day look good on paper. As they walked through town to pray or sacrifice at the temple, they were quoting Scripture and supposedly modeling righteousness. Jesus tells them that they strain at looking good and putting on a show, but neglect justice and mercy and faith. In other words, they're all show and no substance. People who worked hard to look religious and righteous, and yet did not love their neighbors, offended Jesus. Do you remember His story of the Good Samaritan? The religious men ignored the needs of a half-dead traveler dying in a ditch. The Samaritan (a despised sub-cultural group of people) had mercy and compassion.
In The Church
A.W. Tozer wrote in 1962, "It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God." So the question becomes: Who are you showing off and highlighting in your worship service? Are the singers, musicians, and technicians receiving all of the praise? Let's make sure that the One whom all praise, honor, and glory should be given is the true focus of our services. (Revelation 4:11)
People can come to church to show off. In the deep south where I serve, some people come to make sure others know that they are "good churchgoers." Some come out of a habit, but they have lost their first love. (Revelation 2:4) The gathering of the local church, whether big or small, is supposed to be a gathering focused on Jesus. Consider why you go and ask yourself about your motives for attending. Are you seeking favor with God for your own gain? Are you attending church in order to protect your reputation within the community? Are you trying to network with people who might be good for your career or job advancement? Let's get honest with ourselves. God prefers substance over show. He's offended when we show up at His place with a half-hearted purpose or sacrifice. Let's not insult the Lord week after week. Return to your first love and seek to honor Him with every part of your life. Make your offerings count.
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." — Colossians 3:23 (NASU)
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