Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: Gospel According to Isaiah
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 66 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Maybe you have at some point been in a relationship with someone who specializes in grand gestures. It wouldn’t have to be a romantic relationship necessarily; I know of examples of parents who are erratic—planning lavish trips to Disney World but neglecting the day-to-day tasks of parenting: packing lunches, attending school programs, listening. In a romantic relationship, this kind of person might buy you expensive gifts or hire a skywriter to spell out their devotion to you, but forget to call when they’re away on business or mock your feelings when you try to communicate. Maybe they fail to pay the bills or take out the garbage. This is no kind of relationship—and the dereliction of duty on the small, everyday things completely takes away from the impact of the big magnanimous actions that are meant to impress you and win your love.
There is no need for us to win God’s love; He already loves us. Isaiah 66 describes people who bring sacrifices to God in an effort to gain His approval—and the description is not at all flattering (Verses 3 and 4). The sentiment of these descriptions is nicely summed up in just one of the examples: “When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig.” The blood of a pig—or anything, really—doesn’t even sound all that nice in Western culture, so just imagine how disgusting such a sacrifice would have been to people who viewed pigs as the ultimate in uncleanliness.
These verses remind me of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4) in which Cain brings “fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord” (Verse 3). God does not accept this offering since it appears that it was not what He requested. He tells Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” (Verse 7). The implication, of course, is that all Cain had to do was obey. But that seems to have been the one thing he couldn’t bring himself to do. Why? Pride? Thinking he knew better? Simple ignorance?
God appears to want our obedience and respect rather than elaborate shows of religiosity that impress us—and maybe our friends—much more than they impress Him. He says:
For when I called, they did not answer.
When I spoke, they did not listen.
They deliberately sinned before my very eyes
and chose to do what they know I despise. (Verse 4)
Recalibrate: What are the ways you feel comfortable worshipping God? How might being reverent and responsive to God manifest differently in your life?
Respond: Pray for a spirit of humility and obedience to God.
Research: Read the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4).
Remember: “Look, the Lord is coming with fire. The Lord’s armies are coming with clouds of dust” (Isaiah 66:15, ICB).
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Make a crown with your little one today. Ask them how big or how sparkly do they think God’s crown would be? If you have glitter, stick it all over the crown. (As you probably have discovered, glitter goes everywhere.) Talk with your little one about how God, our Heavenly Father and our King wants us to spread love everywhere just like this glitter is spread everywhere.
On this lovely Monday, draw a picture of what you think God coming back will look like. Be sure to include yourself in the picture! Share with a friend the people and things in the picture. Talk about why you are most excited about God coming to find you—the one He loves!
Yesterday we introduced the idea that the book of Isaiah is about judgement and hope. This hope is for all who want it, but how do we get it? God Himself says, in Isaiah 66:2b (NLT), “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” There is a blessing, a message of hope, for all who have “humble and contrite hearts.” Do you know what humble means? You may have heard that word before, but what about contrite? Mom or dad might know what it means, but my simple definition is that when you are contrite it means that you know you have done something wrong and also feel it on the inside as well. That is the sort of people God wants us to be.
God knows us better than anyone and He knows we are going to mess up and do things that we shouldn’t do, but He has hope and a blessing for those who can admit that they have done wrong. We might call this “repenting” or “turning away” from our sin. One of my favorite Bible verses, Romans 2:4 (NLT), speaks to the very heart of this: “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Above all things God wants our hearts turned towards Him. Although He is our judge, He is also kind and patient.
I just finished having lunch with a friend of mine who I view as the epitome of success. He has a wonderful family, a beautiful house, great cars, and is active in our church. Despite all of this, over lunch today his eyes began to fill with tears as he explained how he feels like a failure. Out of all of the things going well in his life, he feels his career is going nowhere. His job has not been the best to him, and in many ways it has made him feel worthless. As we spoke, I noticed that he has been putting so much of his worth and value in his career. He is not alone! This world has trained us to believe that unless we make a lot of money, hold an impressive title, or are climbing up the ladder, we are worthless. You know what God says? “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” The Kingdom of Heaven is so different than the kingdom of earth. God doesn’t care about your title, how much money you make, what you drive, or the position you hold. God wants you to be humble and open to hearing Him. I don’t know where you are in your life. Maybe you are just starting high school, working your first job, or a senior trying to choose a college. Please remember this: You are not what you do; you are what you love. The world may be top-down, but heaven is bottom-up. The least of these are the greatest. Never forget that your greatest success is grabbing hold of the Gospel of Jesus and letting the Gospel grab hold of you.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas