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.

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The good Levite priest (Mal 2:6-2:7)

“True instruction was

In his mouth.

No wrong was

Found on his lips.

He walked with me

In integrity,

In uprightness.

He turned many

From iniquity.

The lips of a priest

Should guard knowledge.

People should seek instruction

From his mouth.

He is the messenger

Of Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Malachi, explained what a good Levite priest should be.  The good Levite priests would have true instruction on their lips.  They would walk with Yahweh in integrity and uprightness.  They would turn many people away from iniquity.  Their lips would guard knowledge.  The people would seek instruction from them.  Their mouths were the messengers of Yahweh.

Ezekiel will be recognized as a prophet (Ezek 33:31-33:33)

“They come to you

As people come.

They sit before you

As my people.

They hear your words.

But they will not

Obey them.

Flattery

Is on their lips.

But their heart

Is set on their own gain.

You are

Like a singer

Of love songs

To them.

You are

Like one who has

A beautiful voice.

You play well

On an instrument.

They hear

What you say,

But they will not do it.

When this comes!

Come it will!

Then they shall know

That a prophet has been

Among them.”

Yahweh said that the people would come to sit before Ezekiel. They would hear his words, but they would not obey them. Flattery would be on their lips, but their heart would be set on their own material gain. Ezekiel would be like a singer of love songs to them with a beautiful voice and a well-played instrument. They would hear what he said, but they would not do it. When all this happened, they would know that Ezekiel had been a prophet among them.

The restoration of Israel (Ezek 29:21-29:21)

“On that day,

I will cause

A horn

To spout up

For the house

Of Israel.

I will open

Your lips

Among them.

Then they will know

That I am Yahweh.”

On the day that Yahweh would choose, the horn of David would spring up again in the house of Israel. He was going to open up their lips so that they would know that he was Yahweh, their God. Thus Israel would be restored to its Davidic kingdom glory.

They will not listen (Jer 7:27-7:28)

“So you shall speak

All these words to them.

But they will not listen to you.

You shall call to them,

But they will not answer you.

You shall say to them.

‘This is the nation

That did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

Their God.

They did not accept discipline.

Truth has perished.

Truth is cut off from their lips.”

Yahweh told Jeremiah what to say. However, he warned Jeremiah that the Israelites would not listen to him either. He would call to them but they would not respond to him. Yahweh told him to tell them that they were a nation that did not obey the voice of Yahweh, their God. They would not accept any kind of discipline because truth had perished and was no longer coming from their lips.

Sins of pride (Sir 21:4-21:7)

“Panic

Will waste away riches.

Insolence

Will also waste away riches.

Thus the house of the proud

Will be laid waste,

Will be uprooted.

The prayer of the poor

Goes from their lips

To God’s ears.

His judgment comes speedily.

Whoever hates reproof

Walks in the steps of sinners.

Whoever fears the Lord

Will repent in their heart.

The mighty in speech

Are widely known.

When they slip,

The sensible person knows it.”

Terror, violence, panic, and insolence waste riches. Thus the house of the proud will be destroyed. On the other hand, the prayers of the poor go directly from their lips to God’s ears. God’s judgment will come quickly. If you hate criticism, you are walking in the steps of sinners. If you fear the Lord, you will repent in your heart. The great speakers are known far and wide, but when they slip up, the sensible people know it right away.

True happiness (Sir 14:1-14:2)

“Happy are those

Who do not blunder with their lips.

They need not suffer remorse for sin.

Happy are those

Whose hearts do not condemn them.

They have not given up their hope.”

Happiness comes to those who do not sin with their lips. Then they have no need to have remorse for their sins. Happiness comes to those who have a good heart that does not condemn them. They have not given up hope. This seems like a simple formula for happiness. Do not sin.