“In vain do they worship me”
There are many different kinds of worship in our world, many beliefs as to what God is – so many gods of human imagination!
As we reflect on this and how it is all very sad – we recall what the one true God, the Creator, said through Jeremiah! “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” (5:31).
The most tragic situation to be seen at the present is the effect of their beliefs on the minds of a very small minority of people, who use the words of their prophets falsely as justification to incite terror and kill their enemies in the name of their religion. Our thoughts ‘wandered’ along these lines after we read the words of Jesus in Mark 7. We noted the attitude of the Pharisees when “they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed” (verse 2). Jesus said that their attitude was a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “it is written, ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (verses 6,7).
This perception is so applicable to today: “In vain do they worship” God as they imagine him to be! This applies, sadly, to a whole range of situations in our world; it is a distorted view of God – one largely, or entirely – of their own imagination. It is so parallel to what Jesus told the Pharisees, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (verse 9).
The verses which follow indicate Jesus’ criticism of the way the Pharisees manipulated the application of the Mosaic Law in order to avoid their responsibility toward their parents in their old age. Some are blessed to live in countries in which the government largely provides accommodation and support for the elderly and those genuinely in need.
But so many people take this for granted – there is no faith or belief involved! But we can say “in vain do they” believe there is NO God! We must not let this influence us.
It is, as Paul told the Thessalonians, “all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Let us make sure we do not “worship” our Creator “in vain”. Let us read his scriptures daily and, as a result, “know that we are of the truth and reassure our hearts before him” (1 John 3:19).