they are a trouble unto me;
I am weary to bear them.
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you:
yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear:
your hands are full of blood.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well;
seek judgment, relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. - Isaiah 1:14-17
Even while Israel was in a mess they still maintained their semblance of religion. They did the sacrifices and observed the holy days. The surface religion was still there. But there was no reality to it.
So God told them what they needed to do:
Cleanse yourselves of your sin
Get rid of the evil in your lives. Stop doing it.
Learn how to do well.
Seek just judgement.
Take care of the poor.
Care for the fatherless and the widows.
Obviously, the first though that comes to mind is how James defined true religious – ‘to care for the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep yourself unspotted by the world.’
I wonder how God feels about my ‘religion?’ Is my religion the kind of thing Isaiah talks about or James writes about, or my religion mostly a show that makes me feel good about myself. Am I content with my religion, or am I striving to live out my faith by dealing with my sin and by caring for others?