6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Mark 7:6–7, NKJV)
The hypocrisy of Israel was reaching its zenith in the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 29:13-14). Israel gave Jehovah lip service, while serving idols, and demanding their own teachings be regarded as divine truth. This verse gives us God’s definition of a hypocritical heart: While saying one honors God, he elevates his own will above the will of the Almighty. Hypocrisy is pretense, pretending to be what one is not. The Greek word was applied to the actor who wore a mask, pretending to be a character in a drama. Christ applied this term to the Pharisees and scribes of His day. Their words honored God, but their hearts were given over to the commandments of men. The Jews had codified their oral traditions (the Mishnah). These men whom Jesus rebuked judged a violation of their traditions to be a violation of God’s law (see Mark 7:8-9). We must avoid accepting human traditions as if they are the will of God, lest we join hands with the hypocrites of Christ’s day. Revealed truth, not the traditions of men, must guide our hearts and our deeds. Otherwise, our worship will be vain.
It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24, NKJV)
God is never far from His faithful ones. He has always been “a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). In today’s verse, Christians have a prophetic reminder that God gives abundant attention to our prayers. God’s ready interest and awareness of His children is one of the spiritual blessings we possess in Christ as citizens of “heavenly Jerusalem” (the church, Eph. 1:3; Heb. 12:22-23). Our Father in heaven is so attentive to our needs that He knows what they are before we ask Him (Matt. 6:8). Rather than this preventing prayer, it heightens our trust that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry (Psa. 34:15; 1 Pet. 3:12). Our faith rests solidly on His unwavering love and care; we are “anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6). The Lord is always near. He already knows your need—better than you do. He promises to answer when you speak to Him. So, come boldly before His throne of grace to “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:1–3, NKJV)
Isaiah’s vision of the Lord sitting upon His heavenly throne presents a magnificent scene of the Lord Almighty in all His majesty, power, splendor and holiness. Heavenly beings attend Him and praise Him for His holiness, acknowledging His creation magnificently displays His grandeur and brilliance. How very unlike the gods that men have made for themselves throughout the ages. Their false gods rise no higher than the human imagination and vices from which they sprang. In vivid contrast, the earth proclaims the majesty of the Almighty and His holiness. This becomes more dramatic when we learn from the apostle John that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus; He is the Lord sitting on the throne, lifted up and holy (John 12:37-41). Jesus is worthy of our faithful praise and service, for He is the Lord Almighty.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8, NKJV)
Too often we have an attitude that says, “Here am I…send someone else!” Isaiah’s ready faith to volunteer to speak for God to His wayward people arouses our zeal to do the same. We must be ready and willing to accomplish God’s purposes. You can have this attitude in your marriage, devoting yourself to be a loving husband or a respectful wife. Like Isaiah, if you are sent to preach the word of God, do so with diligent, enduring faith. If you lead God’s people as an elder, faithfully attend to your stewardship to the glory of God. God wants willing servants. Devote yourself to greater zeal in the Lord’s service. Isaiah is a great example to follow.