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For Blessing: Fix The Back End! 523. Mar 24, 2024

   



KEY SCRIPTURES: Isaiah 58


RELEVANCE

(Today, I've reversed the format, placing the scripture last. Also, I have used the Living Bible for quick and clear understanding.)


Often, we want answers from the Lord but feel there are roadblocks. When parts of life aren't working out, we pray and pray and meditate over why we can't break through or get suitable answers.  


Sometimes, the answers aren't with God but right at home with us, in our own backyard. They are behaviours we're not prepared to recognise. Isaiah 58 is about God calling out the wrong behaviours of the people of Israel. They were guilty of the sins of commission and omission—things they did and neglected to do. All the while, they came before the Lord in fasting and prayer, then criticised God for not answering. They said they loved the worship and message and were all hyped up about God, but no blessings were forthcoming.


They challenged God with, "How come?" "Why aren't you listening to my prayers?"


We can fall into that trap by neglecting to examine ourselves against scripture or the standard norms. As the passage rolls out, God shows up their hypocrisy, a term I rarely use, to give them a chance to change, to repent, and to return to Him in full communion.   The time is always now to look at our lives and put our rights and wrongs under the microscope whether we plan on fasting or not.


Isaiah 58 is as pointy as an arrowhead to the backend of our lives—the business end where we do the things that please God to obtain blessings or we do the opposite. In that chapter, the people complained to God about how they attended Church, so to speak. Yet, there were things they had not done and would not do to correct the relationship.


They expected God to feel exalted by their worship while, at the same time, they abused people. It reminds us all that the back end, where we do what God wants, is as important as the front end of praise, worship and looking like Christians. If we're not doing what we're meant to be doing, should we expect a full response from God?  Put another way, He might get us out of trouble now and then, and we feel blessed with that, but do we get the entire blessing?


Isaiah 58

Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast; tell my people of their sins! 2 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and are so delighted to hear the reading of my laws—just as though they would obey them—just as though they don’t despise the commandments of their God! How anxious they are to worship correctly; oh, how they love the Temple services!

3 “We have fasted before you,” they say. “Why aren’t you impressed? Why don’t you see our sacrifices? Why don’t you hear our prayers? We have done much penance, and you don’t even notice it!” I’ll tell you why! Because you are living in evil pleasure even while you are fasting, and you keep right on oppressing your workers. 4 Look, what good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarrelling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. 5 Is this what I want—this doing of penance and bowing like reeds in the wind, putting on sackcloth and covering yourselves with ashes? Is this what you call fasting?

6 No, the kind of fast I want is that you stop oppressing those who work for you and treat them fairly and give them what they earn. 7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help.

8 If you do these things, God will shed his own glorious light upon you. He will heal you; your godliness will lead you forward, goodness will be a shield before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. 9 Then, when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” he will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors!

10 Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. 11 And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. 12 Your sons will rebuild the long-deserted ruins of your cities, and you will be known as “The People Who Rebuild Their Walls and Cities.”

13 If you keep the Sabbath holy, not having your own fun and business on that day, but enjoying the Sabbath, speaking of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day, and honoring the Lord in what you do, not following your own desires and pleasure nor talking idly— 14 then the Lord will be your delight, and I will see to it that you ride high and get your full share of the blessings I promised to Jacob, your father. The Lord has spoken.


PRAYER

Precious Father, thank you deeply for this passage. It's a great reminder not to forget the importance of uprightness in our lives. I know you would prefer to see Godly changes in a person rather than repetitive church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, or fasting.    

Photo by Nina Mercado 

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