Jeremiah 6: 19 Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not given heed to my words; and as for my teaching, they have rejected it. 20 Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.
This section of Jeremiah describes the destruction that is to come of Israel as a result of their rebellion against God. True, they have mostly adhered to the law as it relates to sacrifices and offerings in the temple. V.20 describes precious items brought from foreign lands and burned on the altar of God. But the Lord is not pleased. Why? Because when they leave the temple of worship they proceed to indulge greed, pervert justice, abuse the poor, the widow, the orphan. The point of worship is not the acts of worship themselves, but the inner transformation which comes from worship. God expected that a worshipful people would become a loving, just, merciful people.
Interestingly Jesus did the opposite of what Israel is accused of in this passage. Jesus often broke the rules, yet never failed to reflect the loving, just, merciful heart of God toward the “wrong” kinds of people – sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, Gentiles, and the like.
Worship which fails to result in transformation is not pleasing to the Lord.
This passage challenges me in a big way. As a church pastor I am a consistent worshipper. It’s my job. I mostly do the right rituals, say the right prayers, offer my tithe, and so on. The question for me this morning is, “Does my life reflect the transformed heart the Lord is looking for?” That’s a tough question.
Lord I know that my sin gets in the way of my relationship with you. Do a work in me that I might become someone who looks more like Jesus. Amen.