At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
“The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: How much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?”Proverbs 21:27
One of the essential characteristics of the unbelieving mind is the conviction that the gods can be placated with externals. There is also a corresponding sense that the gods always need to be placated, but we flatter ourselves into thinking that they will be satisfied if we just show up and tick the box.
This is even the case with highly developed forms of paganism. The gods must have their due, and so if you show up and give them their due, you may call it good and go off to do what you want. Just don’t make them angry over something.
But the God of the Bible is, if we may speak this way, an “in-your-face God.” He is omnipresent (Ps. 139:8) and omniscient (Ps. 147:5). He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). And He is not just present with us everywhere we go, including the worship of the church, He knows all about everything that is going on inside us while we worship (1 Kings 8:39).
This is why Scripture teaches us that mere formality in worship is a great wickedness. As our proverb here puts it, it is an abomination. God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hos. 6:6). To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). Sacrifices and burnt offerings God did not require, but rather a humble and contrite heart (Ps. 40:6). This is a regular theme throughout Scripture. “When ye come to appear before me, Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?” (Isaiah 1:12).
This kind of hypocrisy is called an abomination. But believe it or not, our proverb says that there is a way to make everything worse. If a man is living like a libertine, but then carves out time to go to worship, that is bad enough. But it is much, much worse when the wickedness is paraded into the worship service itself, and incorporated into it. It was bad enough in old Israel for an adulterer to come to worship unrepentant, in order to offer up a lamb. But how much worse if he and his consort come together to consecrate their adultery, and they seal it with the sacrifice of a hyena?
The modern version of this would be all those mainstream desolations—those haunts of owls and jackals—the ones with pride flags flying, and who have lesbian priestesses officiating, rainbow stoles around their chubby necks.