“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations- I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals 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 in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Reference: Isaiah 1:13-17 )
I went back and read what I wrote 5 years ago. Back in 2009 (when we last looked at Reading the Anabaptist Bible ) I did not try to connect it to what excerpt from historic Anabaptist writing was being used. This time I am trying to be more faithful to the perspective the historic Anabaptists had and how the editors ground the scripture in the faith beliefs of the historic Anabaptists. At times it has made it hard to explain their faith in new ways.
But for this passage it is not so difficult for me to comment on. However, the historic Anabaptists (meaning the theological explanations that have been passed down to us) did not seem to have a clear cut response. Balthasar Hubmaier (who usually speaks/writes clearly) says, “. . . these ceremonies, like any other good works, are not sufficient for salvation, and no one should also hope for that from them, nevertheless, since water baptism is an institution of Christ, which no one may deny, everyone who believes inwardly is also obligated to confess his faith outwardly with it before the Christian church. Where now a Christian sees that these outward things, which Christ himself instituted, are being thrown to the ground, he is obligated to cry out without ceasing about that and not stop, even though the outward worldly peace among the godless is thereby shaken . . . Christ is the sign that is contradicted. He is the cornerstone which the builders reject . . . Whoever now destroys his Word and institutions, whether they be outward or internal, should after sufficient instruction be properly esteemed as a destroyer of the indivisible cloak of Christ. Concerning the ceremonies of the Old Testament, however, we clearly find that God himself has abolished them, Isa. 1:12-17 . . . .”
Now what is interesting is that the historic Anabaptists rejected much of the smoke and incense that made up the state religion (which continued on to be the Roman Catholic church). But the case for that is not made here – it would have been a good opportunity. Instead Hubmaier seems to be taking the side of offering and incense bringers. Maybe it is because the historic Anabaptist faith was so new that it was not definable in contrast to the established church. I am guessing here as to what their reasoning was. Hubmaier wrote this in 1525 which was very early on in the historic Anabaptist movement – in fact just at the beginning cusp. Later on the theology was well defined.
It might be of interest to you beloved to read what I wrote five years ago – to see what I said when I writing in a “less defined way.” [ Get off your knees and start acting justly ]
May you beloved define well your faith, and follow through on it. Selah!