Devotions

A Whole Life Offering

I’ve come across this verse numerous times in the past, but it wasn’t after hearing a recorded reading of Isaiah 58 while driving to work did it come alive. That happens a lot, we pass and bypass things, until the moment of revelation when our eyes are opened to see things in a new way. The basic message of this verse, though its emphasis is on fasting, is that God isn’t impressed with the keeping of religious tradition, the saying of sorry, the token interest in Him. He is impressed with a whole life offering of love that is poured out in active service.  Another sobering reminder for me as the first few verses describe me so well: I seek God, seem eager, ask for justice, for God to decide my way, yet live selfishly with me, my needs, my feelings, and my responsibilities at the center. For 2013, it is one of my many many prayers to live a life of true fasting, a life that is set apart, kept special for the receiving and giving of love. Again, this is a whole life offering of love that is poured out in active service. Isaiah 58 1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out;     they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right     and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions     and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please     and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,     and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice     and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free     and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry     and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them,     and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,     and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you,     and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;     you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,     with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry     and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness,     and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you always;     he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land     and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden,     like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins     and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,     Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. 13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath     and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight     and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way     and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,     and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land     and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.