Wednesday, July 29, 2015: Isaiah 57-59; Ps. 103; 2 Pet. 3
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Isaiah 58 rings a familiar theme – the difference between true and false worship, and this particular passage revolves around the common practice of fasting. This is prophetic writing at its most intense. Isaiah is to speak to the house of Jacob – his own people. Sooooo difficult to do – wouldn’t it be so much easier to speak to the ‘real’ sinners – the obvious perpetrators? Why speak to the folks ‘in the church’ when there are so many outside who are guilty??? Isaiah 58 is not a passage that requires interpretation – no biblical codes to break in order to get the message, no symbolic language to decipher. What Isaiah requires is that we listen – deeply, honestly, humbly. See, here’s the problem – the people of Israel – the house of Jacob – did all the right things during the fast – offered the right prayers, assumed the proper postures, meticulously followed the rules – and their complaint to God indicates that no transformation occurred. In fact – the people actually blame God for not paying attention to their careful piety.
There is profound danger for those of us who inhabit the faith…we study, we read, memorize scripture, reflect, analyze, and remain unchanged by the transforming power of God. We are in danger of knowing the Bible without knowing God; of studying scripture without being shaped by the gospel; we flirt dangerously with religion that is devoid of relationship.
Join me in prayer today that our travels through scripture together will not be in vain, but will transform us into the people/the church that God calls us to be.