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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rend Your Heart Not Your Garments

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God. Joel 2:12

Just as it was thousands of years ago, even today, it’s easy to think one is religious by feeling morally and spiritually superior to others. But the prophet Joel admonishes us to, “rend our hearts” not our garments. The prophet Isaiah asks Sodom and Gomorrah to forget about their “sex” problems, but to look at the bigger issue; the fact that they ignore the poor, the orphan and the widow. Today, amidst modern I-pods, Blackberries, designer duds and automobile idols, the Lord silently speaks to our “it’s all about me” generation, asking us to make the poor a priority. Are we listening?

A vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw . . . Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.

“Your hands are full of blood!

“Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Isaiah 1: 1, 10-18
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