“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
(Isaiah 1:12-15 ESV)
The Lord created marriage. He loves marriage. Yet, there is a marriage that the Lord abhors; the marriage of Mr. Iniquity and Ms. Solemn-Assembly. The Lord cannot endure such a union. Apart from the hypocrisy and insult of the thing one reason the Lord hates such a union is because of what it does to both parties involved. It deceives and destroys Mr. Iniquity and it ruins Ms. Solemn-Assembly
The human heart has a tremendous way of deceiving itself. Worse yet the human heart will go to great lengths to self-justify and perpetuate this blindness. That seems to be what is happening with the people spoken of here in Isaiah 1. They are hiding behind their religiosity and refusing to repent. They are using their religious rituals to convince their deceived hearts that they are doing their part.
I have been awakened to this sick cycle in my own life. As a believer, whenever I sin the Spirit of God graciously convicts me of it. The aim of His conviction is that I would take my sin and accompanying guilt and shame to Christ and find restoration. Yet, at times I do the opposite. When convicted I run away from the work of Christ and go through a rigorous process of self-atonement. The deceptiveness of sin encourages me to wear the fig leaves of religiosity to cover my guilt.
Yet in all my religiosity sin continues to rot away at my soul. But from the outside and even to my own deceived eyes I am doing everything I need to do to rid myself of this feeling of guilt. I’m going to church. I’m reading Scripture. I’m giving away possessions. I’m doing ministry. I’m passionately singing worship songs. I’m studying. I’m writing. I’m praying. I’m pleading with the Lord. I’m doing everything I can…
It is in this almost that we discover one of the reasons the Lord hates the marriage of solemn assembly and iniquity. This marriage allows Mr. Iniquity to hide behind the beauty of his bride. At the end of the day Mr. Iniquity enters into false rest because he thinks that he has married his savior. So he never deals with the reality of his family name.
Eventually Ms. Solemn Assembly turns into Mrs. Iniquity. Their union gives birth to Hypocrisy, Apathy, Pride, and eventually Despair. After a period of time Mr. Iniquity decides that Ms. Solemn Assembly is not working out for him. She hasn’t helped him. He’s still feeling the pain of his family name and his deceit causes him to blame his bride.
It’s not her fault. She cannot flourish unless she is married to Mr. Repentance. Until Mr. Iniquity surrenders his pride and his identity and becomes Mr. Repentance he will never find healing and redemption. Yet he keeps trying and trying and trying and wondering why his marriage to Ms. Solemn Assembly is not working. All the while the problem lies in him.
And this is why the Lord hates this marriage. Solemn Assembly has stunning and breathtaking beauty. She is meant to lead people to awe and wonder at Her Maker. Yet, she only flourishes when she is married to Mr. Repentance. Anything else will tarnish her beauty and cause her to merely be used as a cover and a shield. She is not created to bear such a load.
Brothers and sisters, if sin is the problem the only cure is repentance. You cannot marry yourself to solemn assembly and hope that somehow your religiosity will cover your shame and take away the rotting effect of sin. She cannot do that. She is meant for basking not for covering up. You haven’t “tried everything” until you’ve engaged in heartfelt repentance.
Mr. Iniquity don’t blame your failed marriage on Ms. Solemn Assembly. Blame it on your family name. Humble yourself and get a new name; Mr. Repentance. You’ve got a very merciful Judge that shed His own blood to secure that new name.