Isaiah 58

24 Feb

“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honorand satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Isaiah 58

Dear God, this reminds me of 1 Samuel 15 when Samuel says, “To obey is better than to sacrifice…” you don’t want my piety. You simply want me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. The purpose of fasting is to discipline myself into submitting to you, not just making myself feel good because I engaged in some sort of pious activity.

A couple of years ago, a local pastor encouraged his parishioners to consider not giving something up for Lent, but to instead consider taking up an activity that glorifies you. Maybe service. Maybe worship. Maybe prayer. Whatever it is, make it a worshipful add-on to your life instead of a ritualistic denial of something. That’s pretty much what I’m trying to do this year. I’ve pitched something that I think will bring me closer to you, and then the fruit of that will take care of itself.

Father, Isaiah’s words for Israel are likely the same thing you would have to say to the American church today: “Obey me before you have to sacrifice.” There’s a lot in here about loving the poor and oppressed. Help me to go that more and more. For your glory, oh Lord.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Holy Spirit, have mercy,


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Posted by on February 24, 2023 in Isaiah


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