Reflections on spiritual truth to encourage, exhort, and reprove.
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 theirtransgression And to the house of Jacob their sins. 2"Yet theyseek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has donerighteousness Andhas not forsaken the ordinance of their God They ask Me for just decisions, They delightin the nearness of God. 3'Why have wefasted 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 theday of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. 4"Behold, you fast for contention andstrife and to strike with a wicked fist You do not fast like you do today tomake 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 outsackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even anacceptable day to the LORD? 6"Is this not the fast which I choose, Toloosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And tolet the oppressed go free Andbreak every yoke? 7"Is it not todivide your bread with the hungry Andbring the homeless poor into the house; When you see thenaked, to cover him; And not tohide 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 yourlight will break out like the dawn, And yourrecovery will speedily spring forth; And yourrighteousness will go before you; The glory of theLORD will be your rear guard. 9"Then you willcall, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am ' If youremove the yoke from your midst, Thepointing of the finger andspeaking wickedness, 10And if yougive yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then yourlight will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. 11"And theLORD will continually guide you, Andsatisfy your desire in scorched places, Andgive strength to your bones; And you will be like awatered garden, And like aspring of water whose waters do not fail. 12"Those from among you willrebuild the ancient ruins; You willraise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of thebreach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell. 13"If because of the sabbath, youturn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath adelight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, And honor it, desisting from yourown ways, From seeking your own pleasure Andspeaking your own word, 14Then you will takedelight in the LORD, And I will make you rideon the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For themouth 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.