August 8: Distortion
Isaiah 14:24–16:14; Luke 6:1–49; Job 4:12–21
If attending church and small group or even reading the Bible and praying become activities that we do out of obligation, then we have a bigger problem than we might realize. If our hearts are disengaged, our religious motions and listless obedience serve only as a security blanket—something that makes us feel safe and good.
The Pharisees faced this dilemma, but they took the error one step further. They took the Sabbath—a practice intended to point people toward God—and twisted it into a heavy burden. So when Jesus wanted to do good on the Sabbath, it’s no surprise that they seized the opportunity to trap Him.
Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ accusation by telling them He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). But He also showed them the true purpose of Sabbath while at the same time exposing their hearts: “And Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you whether it is permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?’ ” (Luke 6:9).
Caught up in their religious observance, the Pharisees misunderstood the heart of God’s commands. Not only this, but they used the Sabbath to do harm—the polar opposite of Jesus’ life-giving actions.
Ultimately, the actions of the Pharisees appeared holy and righteous, but underneath they were lifeless. They were like the lukewarm waters described in Revelation, for which Jesus feels utter contempt: “Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth!” (Rev 3:16).
Nothing displeases God more than when our hearts and our actions don’t match up. If this is the case for us, we need to let Scripture examine our hearts as we pray for wisdom and the Spirit. Nothing can make us right with God unless we know why we are wrong with Him—and where our hope really lies. Our outward actions need to be infused with the desire to follow Him.
What are the motives behind your motions?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely like as I have purposed, so shall it come to pass, and as I have consulted, it shall stand: That I will break to pieces Assyria in my land, and upon my mountains will I tread him under foot, so that his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden shall be taken from off their shoulder. This is the counsel that is consulted upon the whole world, and this is the hand stretched out over all the nations, Because the Lord of hosts hath determined, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it away? In the year that king Ahaz died, was this burden. Rejoice not, (thou whole Philistia) because the rod of him that did beat thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and the fruit thereof shall be a fiery flying serpent. For the first born of the poor shall be fed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and it shall slay thy remnant. Howl, O gate, cry, O city: thou whole land of Philistia art dissolved, for there shall come from the North a smoke, and none shall be alone, at his time appointed. What shall then one answer the messengers of the Gentiles? that the Lord hath stablished Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it The burden of Moab, Surely Ar of Moab was destroyed, and brought to silence in a night: surely Kir of Moab was destroyed, and brought to silence in a night. He shall go up to the Temple, and to Dibon to the high places to weep: for Nebo and for Medeba shall Moab howl: upon all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard shaven. In their streets shall they be girded with sackcloth: on the tops of their houses, and in their streets everyone shall howl, an come down with weeping. And Heshbon shall cry, and Elealeh: their voice shall be heard unto Jahaz: therefore the warriors of Moab shall shout: the soul of everyone shall lament in himself. Mine heart shall cry for Moab: his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for they shall go up with weeping by the mounting up of Luhith: and by the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction. For the waters of Nimrim shall be dried up: therefore the grass is withered, the herbs consumed, and there was no green herb. Therefore what every man hath left, and their substance shall they bear to the brook of the willows. For the cry went round about the borders of Moab, and the howling thereof unto Egliam, and the howling thereof unto Beer Elim. Because the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, even lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and to the remnant of the land. Send ye a lamb to the ruler of the world from the rock of the wilderness, unto the mountain of the daughter Zion. For it shall be as a bird that flieth, and a nest forsaken: the daughters of Moab shall be at the fords of Arnon. Gather a counsel, execute judgment, make thy shadow as the night in the midday: hide them that are chased out: betray not him that is fled. Let my banished dwell with thee: Moab, be thou their covert from the face of the destroyer: for the extortioner shall end: the destroyer shall be consumed, and the oppressor shall cease out of the land. And in the mercy shall the throne be prepared, and he shall sit upon it in steadfastness, in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting justice. We have heard of the pride of Moab (he is very proud) even his pride, and his arrogancy, and his indignation, but his lies shall not be so. Therefore shall Moab howl unto Moab, everyone shall howl: for the foundations of Kir Hareseth shall ye mourn, yet they shall be stricken. For the vineyards of Heshbon are cut down, and the vine of Sibmah: the lords of the heathen have broken the principal vines thereof: they are come unto Jazer: they wandered in the wilderness: her goodly branches stretched out themselves, and went over the sea. Therefore will I weep with the weeping of Jazer, and of the vine of Sibmah, O Heshbon: and Elealeh, I will make thee drunk with my tears, because upon thy summer fruits, and upon thy harvest a shouting is fallen. And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field: and in the vineyards shall be no singing nor shouting for joy: the treader shall not tread wine in the wine presses: I have caused the rejoicing to cease. Wherefore, my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kir Heres. And when it shall appear that Moab shall be weary of his places, then shall he come to his temple to pray, but he shall not prevail. This is the word that the Lord hath spoken against Moab since that time. And now the Lord hath spoken, saying, In thee years as the years of an hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be contemned in all the great multitude, and the remnant shall be very small and feeble. Isaiah 14:24–16:14
- And it came to pass on a second solemn Sabbath, that he went through the corn fields, and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, and rubbed them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? Then Jesus answered them, and said, Have ye not read this, that David did when he himself was an hungered, and they which were with him, How he went into the house of God, and took, and ate the showbread, and gave also to them which were with him, which was not lawful to eat, but for the Priests only? And he said unto them, The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath day. It came to pass also on another Sabbath, that he entered into the Synagogue, and taught, and there was a man, whose right hand was dried up. And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the Sabbath day, that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Arise, and stand up in the midst. And he arose, and stood up. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you a question, Whether is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good or evil? to save life, or to destroy? And he beheld them all in compass, and said unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he did so, and his hand was restored again, as whole as the other. Then they were filled full of madness, and communed one with another, what they might do to Jesus. And it came to pass in those days, that he went into a mountain to pray, and spent the night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and of them he chose twelve which also he called Apostles: (Simon whom he named also Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas: James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zealous, Judas James’ brother, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.) Then he came down with them, and stood in a plain place with the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea, and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases: And they that were vexed with foul spirit, and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all: And he lifted up his eyes upon his disciples, and said, Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be satisified: blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye when men hate you, and when they separate you, and revile you, and put out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye int hat day, and be glad: for behold, your reward is great in heaven: for after this manner their fathers did to the Prophets: But woe be to you that are rich: for ye have received your consolation. Woe be to you that are full: for ye shall hunger. Woe be to you that now laugh: for ye shall wail and weep. Woe be to you when all men speak well of you: for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies: do well to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which hurt you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other, and him that taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee: and of him that taketh away the things that be thine, ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to yo, so do ye to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank shall ye have? for even the sinners love those that love them. And if ye do good for them which do good for you, what thank shall ye have? for even the sinners do the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thanks shall ye have? for even the sinners lend to sinners, to receive the like. Wherefore love thine enemies, and do good, and lend, looking for nothing again, and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the most High: for he is king unto the unkind, and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given unto you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give into your bosom: for with what measure ye mete, with the same shall men mete to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but whosoever will be a perfect disciple, shall be as his master. And why seest thou a mote in thy brother’s eye, and considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou seest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Hypocrite, cast out the beam out of thine own eye first, and then shalt thou see perfectly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. For it is not a good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit: neither an evil tree, that bringeth forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit: for neither of thorns gather men figs, nor of bushes gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. But why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I speak? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my words, and doeth the same, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and dug deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the waters arose, the flood beat upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was grounded upon a rock. But he that heareth and doeth not, is like a man that built an house upon the earth without foundation, against which the flood did beat, and it fell by and by: and the fall of that house was great. Luke 6:1–49
- But a thing was brought to me secretly, and mine ear hath received a little thereof. In the thoughts of the visions of the night, when sleep falleth on men, Fear came upon me, and dread which made all my bones to tremble. And the wind passed before me, and made the hairs of my flesh to stand up. Then stood one, and I knew not his face: an image was before mine eyes, and in silence heard I a voice, saying, Shall man be more just than God? or shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he found no steadfastness in his servants, and laid folly upon his Angels. How much more in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which shall be destroyed before the moth? They be destroyed from the morning unto the evening: they perish forever, without regard. Do not their dignity go away with them? do they not die, and that without wisdom? Job 4:12–21