“5 And Yahweh saw that the evil of humankind was great upon the earth, and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was always only evil.” (Gen 6)
58 “Call with the throat; you must not keep back!
lift up your voice like a trumpet,
and declare to my people their rebellion,
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me day by day,
and they desire the knowledge of my ways
like a nation that practiced righteousness,
and had not forsaken the judgment of its God;
they ask me for righteous judgments,
they desire the closeness of God.
3 ‘Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
We humiliate our soul, and you do not notice it?’
Look! You find delight on the day of your fast,
and you oppress all your workers!
4 Look! You fast to quarrel and strife,
and to strike with a wicked fist.
You shall not fast as you do today,
to make your voice heard on the height.
5 Is the fast I choose like this,
a day for humankind to humiliate himself?
To bow his head like a reed,
and make his bed on sackcloth and ashes;
you call this a fast
and a day of pleasure to Yahweh?
6 Is this not the fast I choose: to release the bonds of injustice,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
and to let the oppressed go free,
and tear every yoke to pieces?
7 Is it not to break your bread for the hungry?
You must bring home the poor, the homeless.
When you see the naked, you must cover him,
and you must not hide yourself from your relatives.
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall grow quickly.
And your salvation shall go before you;
the glory of Yahweh will be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and Yahweh himself will answer.
You shall cry for help, and he will say, ‘Here I am!’
If you remove from among you the yoke,
the finger-pointing and evil speech,
10 if you offer your soul to the hungry,
and you satisfy the appetite of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness,
and your darkness will be like noon.
11 And Yahweh will lead you continually, and satisfy your soul in a barren land,
and he will strengthen your bones,
and you shall be like a well-watered garden,
and like a spring of water whose water does not fail.
12 And they shall rebuild ancient ruins from you;
you shall erect the foundations of many generations,
and you shall be called the bricklayer of the breach,
the restorer of paths to live in.
13 If you hold your foot back from the Sabbath,
from doing your affairs on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a pleasure,
the holy day of Yahweh honorable,
if you honor him more than doing your ways,
than finding your affairs and speaking a word,
14 then you shall take your pleasure in Yahweh,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth,
and I will feed you the heritage of Jacob your ancestor,
for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.” (Is 58)
“17 Therefore the Lord did not rejoice over its young men,
and he did not have compassion on its orphans and widows,
for everyone was godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth was speaking folly.” (Is 9)
“6 And we all have become like the unclean,
and all our deeds of justice like a menstrual cloth,
And we all wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities take us away like the wind.
7 And there is no one who calls on your name,
who pulls himself up to keep hold of you,
for you have hidden your face from us,
and melted us into the hand of our iniquity.” (Is 64)
The original temple was about separation. God was among His people, yes. But in order that they might not be destroyed, He hid His glory behind a series of curtains and fences and orders of purification. The people in the camp knew God was present. They knew where He was. But they didn’t see Him.
Religion is like that. Temples are like that. Mystery, pomp, division, laws and rules designed to maintain the order. Maintain the system. Keep the god happy.
Hearts are like that. We keep the curtains drawn upon the Holy of Holies within us thinking we are keeping God in his box. We are serving Him. We are doing good. We have God in our hearts.
But do we? I’ve heard that when Pompey sacked Jerusalem he marched right up to the temple, tore back the curtain and said the Latin equivalent of, “Pfft.” Ezekiel could have told him what he’d find, he’d seen God leave more than four hundred years earlier. I encourage you today, to be Pompey in your own heart. Go deep. Tear back the curtains of your deeds. Of your good works. Of your justifications. Of your excuses. Tear back the curtain and see, once and for all, who’s on the throne in your Holy of Holies. Who it is that you struggle for. Who it is that you sacrifice for. Who it is that all of your work, all of your time, all of your money, all of your resources, relationships and worry, fear, anxiety, anger, passion, ambition is bent on pleasing.
I’ll wait. Oh and don’t worry about disturbing God in His privacy back there. He tore the veil when Jesus died, so I’m pretty sure you’ll be passing Him waiting on a park bench on the way up the steps.
“For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3)