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Isaiah 58

August 12, 2009

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

Begins with these words. God is calling his people out. He has a problem with the house of Jacob and their sins. This is no gentle nudge, “You’ve gone a little off track,” no this is a voice raised to a yell, a voice that is to act like a trumpet to get God’s people’s attention. And why did he want their attention?

For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions and seem
eager for God to come near them.

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

What has God so angry with his people? Is it the fact that they don’t seem to seek him out? His people are coming to worship him. In fact the text says they seek this daily. Pretty impressive. A lot of churches have trouble getting people to gather beyond Sunday morning. This is an everyday thing.

“They seem eager to know my ways.” There is a lot to that statement isn’t there? They act as if what I say matters. The text goes on to say that they ask me for justice. The people want God to do things for them and they aren’t afraid to ask over and over. It goes on to say that they fast but that only reveals their true nature. People who fight with each other and abuse others.

But look what God says they should do to remedy their problem. Does he tell them to simply get their worship right? No, he tells them what worship he expects, what fasting he wants. He informs them of how people who worship Him respond with that worship.

He tells them to level the playing field of life, to share what they have with people in need, to give shelter to those without and to clothe those without anything.

Interesting that the call for worship is action towards people in need.

Seriously, what do you think about the church today? Our grand worship? I believe the church is awakening to what God is saying in Isaiah 58. Read what else God has to say about a people who are willing to love like this, to help those in need? Listen to what God says and believe.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

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