Isaiah 58

As I was at summer camp this past week, I often reflected on Isaiah 58 which talks about a "true fast" which requires doing justice and living rightly. Here is a portion of it from the TEV:
The LORD says, "Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their
sins! They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways
and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they
take pleasure in worshiping me." The people ask, "Why should we fast if the LORD
never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?" The LORD
says to them, "The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own
interests and oppress your workers. Your fasting makes you violent, and you
quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your
prayers? When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like
a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you
call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that? "The kind of fasting I
want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let
the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to
the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not
refuse to help your own relatives. "Then my favor will shine on you like the
morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you
to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will
answer you. When you call to me, I will respond. "If you put an end to
oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give
food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around
you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy
you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden
that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your
people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old
foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored
the ruined houses.
Much of Isaiah rings with this same message. As well, when I read the minor prophets, these themes are resounded over and over again-- feed the hungry, welcome and care for the stranger in the land (who are the strangers in our society today?), loose the bonds of oppression. Worship requires not just living in our own forgiveness and healing, but extending it and offering it to others. This theme of salvation is being preached by a small few in the church-- may it resound in our day as it does so often throughout Scripture!

1 comment:

  1. Great point and this scripture is clear as can be on that!

    So much of worship on Sunday mornings, I'm afraid, does not get past the first part of Isaiah 58.

    Good words. Thanks.