Thoughts on the Way Home

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Promises in Isaiah 58

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There are some really good promises in Isaiah 58. However, they are conditional. It begins as follows:

1"Cry loudly, do not hold back;
Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their
And to the house of Jacob their sins.

2"Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done
has not forsaken the ordinance of their God
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight
in the nearness of God.
3'Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?'

At this point the nation is wondering why God isn't blessing them. They seem to be seeking God but without effect. What is the sin they are overlooking in the midst of all their 'seeking' (v2a)?

Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.

4"Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist
You do not fast like you do today to
make your voice heard on high.
5"Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one's head like a reed
And for spreading out
sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an
acceptable day to the LORD?
6"Is this not the fast which I choose,
loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to
let the oppressed go free
break every yoke?
7"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the
naked, to cover him;
And not to
hide yourself from your own flesh?

Here is the answer: they are oppressive at worst, and neglectful at best. They care little for the poor and for those in bondage. If we want to experience the promised blessings about to follow (listed in red), we must not make the same mistake. We must not overlook what is so often overlooked. The "bowing of one's head" (v5) may seem spiritual, but God delights in compassion, and not a sacrifice. There is clear application for us - help the oppressed and the poor. Oppression in our day can be families battered by physical and sexual abuse, lives devastated by drug addiction or prostitution, a woman pressured into abortion, or really anything where
Satan is blinding, tempting, and tormenting the lost. The poor has an definable tangible aspect that is even easier to spot. They are poor! They don't have food, homes, clothes or money. Jesus said we will always have the poor with us to help. So let's look for these people (not hide from them, v7) and help them with our labors of love and with the gospel. If we don't know where they're at then at least let's pray that God would bring them across our path. That's at least how I feel here in small-town Kirksville. Don't you ever feel the same way? Surely if our hearts are in the right place he will bring the people to which to minister. So let's pray about it.

Now, what are the promises for those who help the oppressed and poor?

8"Then your light will break out like the dawn,
your recovery will speedily spring forth;
your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am '
If you
remove the yoke from your midst,
pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
10And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
your light will rise in darkness
your gloom will become like midday.
11"And the LORD will continually guide you,
satisfy your desire in scorched places,
give strength to your bones;
you will be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
12"Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
13"If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a
delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your
own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
speaking your own word,
14Then you will take delight in the LORD,
I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the
mouth of the LORD has spoken."

These are some really good promises! God will heal and restore you and shine light all around you. Feeling depressed and down? Want more of the light of God's countenance? Well here you go. Want God to defend your soul like an army's rear guard troops? Here you go. Want God to miraculously answer your prayers? Want God to make your life a spiritual oasis? Want to be used? Used as a repairer of the breach, like a missionary, building up the house and kingdom of God? Want even to have more delight in the Lord? It's all in these promises.