Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. ( Isaiah 66:1-4)
The Most High addresses a congregation, in Isaiah 66. They are the same congregation, and consider themselves to be brothers, sharing the same religion, but there is a dualism within the message. there are really two congregations, or there is a congregation within the larger congregation.
To the larger congregation, God rebukes their worship in the harshest terms. Though they are very busy about their religion, building the Kingdom, erecting a large sanctuary, offering the sacrifices prescribed by God,.
But it is obvious that the Holy God rejects and rebukes their entire religious enterprise. Not on the basis of improper sacrifices, but on the state of their hearts. These people had come to actually believe that God needed their efforts, and that in a sense, it was God that was the dependent, and they who kept the business of religion going.
Furthermore these attributes exalted and corrupted these worshippers, into an approach of de facto independence from God. The show would go on, with or without seeking God’s will or preference. They were self willed, and eventually fit the New Testament description of “Will Worshippers”. “They have chosen their own ways”.
Jesus taught a parable about this in the New Testament, which was a variation of Isaiah’s own song of the Vineyard,(Isaiah 5). In Jesus rendering of it, the Vineyard is leased out to tenants,
And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.’ And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. (Mark 12:1-9)
Notice how those working in the Vineyard had gotten to the point where they forgot that they were but tenants? They ran the Vineyard as though it were their own, and came to the point where the actual owner of the Vineyard, could elicit no response, when he came for his dues.
Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations… because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear…
In spite of all of the good works and elaborate worship services, there was no real response to God Himself… .
God speaks to us, as long as we have ears to hear. God would direct and guide those who see their need for such direction. “Seek and Ye shall find…”.
How did it all begin for you and me? God spoke to me, through personal conviction of my sins. There can be no doubt in my mind, God called me, and I answered Him. The Word of God staggered me, it hit me in the heart, I heard clearly what He was saying to me, in every verse and sermon, all was tremendously personal. Right?
How long has it been, that you can say God has spoken to you?
The danger the prophet and Jesus himself warned of, is that at some point people quit listening (really listening) to God, and lose the capacity to so much as perceive his call.
This can happen in every facet of spirituality; It is not uncommon for one to involve himself in worship, or in discernment, apologetics, or church organization, (they have made a science out of church growth), demonology or eschatology, all of which have their place, as do other wider secular pursuits, i.e. politics culture wars etc.
One can immerse themselves in any and all of these pursuits, completely absorbing yourself in them, without sensing any personal need of God whatsoever. Years can pass by quickly without any sense of God speaking anymore, and very little reflection upon it.
Real faith is a matter of hearing God speak, and responding from the heart. Real faith is based upon a tremendous sense of personal need.
Thus the true congregation is described as being “even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. ”