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Isaiah 58

What a powerful chapter on worship and how God perceives our worship.

Taken as a whole, this powerful and convicting chapter reminds me of a scene in a TV show that I end up thinking about a lot. The show is an irreverent and often profane half-hour comedy show titled It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and is about a bar run by a group of friends. In one episode they attend their class reunion, each with the hope of replacing their inglorious prom failures with new grown-up victories. The believe they have outgrown their days as losers and, this time, they will prevail. Of course comedy ensues and they all fail. But in the end they get their glorious opportunity to regroup and snatch victory through a powerful dance-off. The wind blows through their hair as they beautifully triumph through a successful choreographed dance with grace and power. Then the scene shifts focus and we see how the rest of the world is perceiving their victorious moment. They are limping and awkwardly flailing around without any grace or dignity. They are demonstrating, very publicly, that they are the losers they set out to disprove.

It's not always a very edifying show for a Christian, but they have a way of making a point in very simple terms. In this case, it often brings to mind how easily we can fool ourselves.

In the first verse I think the Lord is telling Isaiah to cry out like a trumpet and tell God people their sins.

And then He describes the nation of Israel as one who seek Him out daily and desire to know His ways, as if they are a nation doing righteousness and they approach the Lord. They want to know why they fast, but don't get the answer they want from Him. They are afflicted and don't feel like He notices.

Like the characters in Always Sunny, they dance a beautiful, choreographed dance, and don't understand why God isn't doing what they want.

But in the second half of verse 3 God changes the angle and lets them know what He sees happening in reality. While they are putting on their pious dance of fasting, He see that they are, in actuality, not only pursuing their own hearts' desires, they are also wickedly driving their workers. They are exhibiting hard hearts toward those under them, while expecting favor and grace from He who is above them.

God sees the heart and could see that they were fasting for wicked reasons, strife, debate, and as a weapon. to be seen and heard. He asks them to consider if this fasting for a day is how He would want them to spend their day. Afflicted and sad? Making a scene?

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?

Isaiah 58: 6

He would rather have you care for the hungry and the poor, covering the naked, and taking care of your own.

Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

Isaiah 58: 8-9a

Look at His heart for us. Even as He's recognizing our selfish motives and wickedness, He's making a way to get light to us. to heal us. To bring us righteousness, His glory, and His protection!

Then when we call, He will answer.

IF we take care of those in need, He will meet our needs.

Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

Isaiah 58: 10b-12

If we want to know how to be heard and cared for by the Lord, care for others. If we want to know how to come out of captivity from Babylon and succeed in our renewal- do the needful. Take care of what needs to be taken care of, in His name.

It's not a transaction. We aren't paying for services rendered. It's a submission. Giving up our way to follow His. And out of that, His blessings flow. By design.

We'll see this in its fullness upon Christ's return when we're all set free from Babylon.

Again, what a convicting and beautiful chapter. Full of honest criticism from God, but also His full promises.

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