Isaiah 58: 1-9
‘Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?’
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
and oppress all your workers…
A Moment to Ponder
On one occasion I was running out of gas in my car. So naturally, I found the nearest gas station fill the tank. As I drove out of the gas station and continued my journey the engine started sputtering. The car wasn’t performing as it normally did so I pulled over to the side to try to figure out what was going on with the engine. Everything looked fine to me. It was a fairly new car, the gas tank was full, but it was obvious that something was still not working. In the end, a mechanic came and looked to figure out why things were not working as they should, as I had expected it to work. After examining it, he said, “I think I found your problem.” I’ve checked your gas and what you have in your tank is not what the car requires. The tank is full but with the wrong type of gas.
In Isaiah 58 God’s people were concerned that their Religious life was not working, that their spiritual relationship with God was not producing anything. In fact, they said to God, “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”. They wanted to know why God had not come down and intervened in their circumstance even though they were fasting.
The Lord’s response to them was, “Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist.”
God’s response to the people through the prophet Isaiah is one for all to hear and learn if we’re to take seriously Gods intervention in our circumstances, in our personal lives, churches and our community. If we are to have a relationship with God (Individually or in a gathering) then we ought to learn this truth from Isaiah as to why all of our spiritual efforts many times are not working out at all. He says I don’t want the one you’re giving me. I want the one that I, your God require, that your engine requires. It must be acceptable to me, not just likeable or affordable to you.
They wanted a vertical experience with God, without the horizontal touching the lives of others. They wanted God to do something for them while they did nothing for others. They wanted heaven to visit them while there was no effort to improve the lives of others. Over and over throughout scripture, we see God blessing individuals so that they can be a blessing to others. That’s why Jesus said, “By this shall all know that you are my disciples.” Not that you praise, and you pray, and you go to church, but that you love one another. There is an impact beyond yourself.
If we want our time spent in private and communal prayer, in religious disciplines like fasting, reading of scripture, etc. to be meaningful and worthwhile in the sight of God. Let us begin to engage our brothers and sisters around us in love and …
“then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery speedily will spring forth. Your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guide. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer. You will cry and He will say, Here I am…then your light will shine in the darkness and your gloom will become midday. And the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places and give strength to your bones. And you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose water does not fail. Those from whom it will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the old foundations. You will be called repairers of the breach, the restorers of the streets in which you dwell.”
If God sees us crying out for help, to come into our lives and fix our broken situation, while at the same time reaching out in love to others, God is going to bless us.
A Moment in Prayer
“Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love;
where there is injury, your pardon, Lord;
and where there’s doubt, true faith in you.”
Contributed by Rev. Kirk Brown