Isaiah and vain worship (Mt 15:8-15:9)

“This people honors me

With their lips.

But their hearts

Are far from me.

In vain,

Do they worship me,

They teach human precepts

As doctrines.”

 

Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ·

μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

 

This Greek quotation from Isaiah, chapter 29:13 is from the Septuagint, almost the same as in Mark, chapter 7:6-7.  This oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, centers on insincere worship.  These Israelites adored Yahweh with their mouths and lips, but their hearts were far away.  They only praised the Lord because of human demands, as they recited rote prayers.  Jesus repeated the verses of Isaiah, via Matthew.  These people honored him with their lips or mouth (Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ).  However, their hearts were far away from him (ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  In a vain or useless way, they adored, worshiped, or reverenced him (μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με).  They are teaching doctrines (διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας) that were human precepts or ordinances (ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων).  Thus Jesus, via Matthew and Isaiah, was wailing against false worship and human precepts as divine worship and teachings.

Judah has been unfaithful (Mal 2:11-2:12)

“Judah has been faithless.

An abomination

Has been committed

In Israel,

As well as in Jerusalem.

Judah has profaned

The sanctuary of Yahweh

That he loves.

He has married

The daughter of a foreign god.

May Yahweh cut off

From the tents of Jacob

Anyone who does this!

May Yahweh cut off

Anyone who witnesses,

Who answers,

Who brings an offering

To Yahweh of hosts!”

Yahweh, via Malachi, noted that Judah had not been faithful.  There was an abomination in Jerusalem itself.  Judah had profaned the sanctuary of Yahweh.  Judah had married the daughter of a foreign god.  Perhaps this indicates a non-Jewish woman.  Thus, Yahweh was going to cut them off from the tents of Jacob.  Anyone involved in any kind of false worship of a foreign god would be cut off from being a witness or bringing offerings to Yahweh.  They should be excommunicated.

The defiled prostitution (Hos 6:10-6:10)

“In the house of Israel,

I have seen a horrible thing.

Ephraim’s prostitution

Is there.

Israel is defiled.”

The house of Israel has committed a terrible thing. They have allowed the prostitution of Ephraim to continue. Thus, the northern kingdom of Israel has defiled itself, with their false worship of other gods.

False worship (Jer 32:34-32:35)

“They set up

Their abominations

In the house

That bears my name.

They defiled it.

They built

The high places of Baal

In the valley

Of the son of Hinnom,

To offer up

Their sons

As well as their daughters

To Molech.

I did not command them,

It did not enter my mind

That they should do

This abomination,

Causing Judah to sin.”

The major fault of the Israelites and Judeans was their false worship. First, they defiled the Temple, the house of Yahweh, by placing these false idols in the Temple itself. Then they also built the high altars for the false god Baal. Finally, they were offering up their sons and daughters to Molech in Hinnom valley, outside Jerusalem, that later became known as Gehenna or hell. Molech was a Canaanite god that demanded child sacrifices, who was specifically mentioned in Leviticus, chapter 20. Once again, Yahweh, as in chapter 19, said that he had not commanded or had it even entered his mind to ask for child sacrifices. Clearly, this worship of false gods and sacrificing children was against the will of Yahweh.

False worship (Jer 19:3-19:4)

“You shall say!

‘Hear the word of Yahweh!

O kings of Judah!

O Inhabitants of Jerusalem!

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to bring such disaster

Upon this place

That the ears of everyone

Who hears of it

Will tingle.

Because the people have forsaken me.

They have profaned this place

By burning incense in it

To other gods

Whom neither they,

Nor their ancestors,

Nor the kings of Judah

Have known.

They have filled

This place

With the blood of the innocent ones.’”

The message from Yahweh to Jeremiah was clear. He was to tell the kings of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem that Yahweh was going to being disaster upon this place. When they would hear about this impending disaster, their ears would tingle. They had given up on Yahweh. Instead they had turned to burning incense to other gods, thus defiling and profaning this sacred place. Neither they, nor their ancestors, nor the kings of Judah had known these strange false gods before. They had filled this place with innocent blood.

The invitation to repentance (Jer 3:12-3:13)

“Go!

Proclaim these words

Toward the north.

Say!

‘Return!

Faithless Israel!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will not look on you in anger!

I am merciful!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will not be angry forever.

Only acknowledge your guilt!

That you rebelled

Against Yahweh

Your God!

You scattered your favors

Among strangers

Under every green tree.

You have not obeyed my voice.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh then told Jeremiah to say these words to the northern tribes. Tell them to return. Yahweh was not going to be angry forever with them because he was merciful. They only had to acknowledge that they rebelled against Yahweh, their God. They had scattered their favors under every green oak tree in false worship. They had not obeyed the voice of Yahweh. The problem, of course, was that they had already been sent into captivity, nearly a century earlier.

False worship (Isa 65:3-65:5)

“A people provoke me

To my face continually.

They sacrifice in gardens.

They offer incense on bricks.

They sit inside tombs.

They spend the night in secret places.

They eat swine’s flesh.

They have broth of abominable things

In their vessels.

They say.

‘Keep to yourself.

Do not come near me.

I am too holy for you.’

These are a smoke

In my nostrils.

They are a fire

That burns all the day.”

These Israelites were practicing false worship right in front of Yahweh, instead of the true Yahweh worship. They were sacrificing in the gardens in some sort of a nature cult. They burned incense on bricks that was both a pagan and Israelite practice. Sitting inside tombs was an attempt to consult with the dead. If they spent the night in a secret place they were trying to conjure up a vision. Obviously eating pork was forbidden to the Israelites. Others drank some kind of terrible abominable broth. Some even wanted to keep Yahweh away because they were already part of some unknown rite or cult that made them holy. They were like smoke in Yahweh’s nose. They were like a continually burning fire. They really bothered Yahweh with their false worship practices.