God spoke to Isaiah the prophet and told him:
58 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’
3-5 “Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?
6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.
13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so!
God spoke to Isaiah and told him to speak these words during the reign of Manasseh, one of the worst kings Israel ever had. I wrote about the reign of Manasseh and his father Hezekiah in the last post. If you want to read it click HERE.
It will help you get a clearer picture of why God wanted to rebuke the Israelites for attending worship just because it was something they were supposed to do.
Manasseh’s reign was filled with much idolatry and he openly built temples and idols to heathen gods. Some people might have gone to the Jewish Temple to give their offerings and worship in addition to worshiping at the heathen temples, or maybe they didn’t go to the heathen temples to worship and felt a sense of pride because of this.
Either way they had taken things to the point that they were only fasting to get the attention of others so they would be looked upon as being very godly.
In either case, God was not at all pleased with their actions. They had forgotten what it meant to serve Yahweh in the sense that He was the one true living God.
Sometimes we Christians do the same thing the Israelites did. We might not openly go to a heathen temple to worship idols, but it is easy to make an idol out of anything that is more important to you than God. He wants and deserves true worship because of His awesome love for us. It is so easy to get into a rut of going to church and doing the same things week after week. We go through the motions of worship, when many times our hearts are far from it. God expects first place in our lives and is a jealous God who does not want us to put anything above Him.
The Israelites were obviously doing outwardly right things by making sacrifices to atone for their sins, but evidently most were just doing it because they knew they had to. They wanted to be right with God on an intellectual level, but they were just going through the motions of worship. God wanted them to worship with their whole heart because of who He was and what He had done for them.
This same thing happens today. Many times we go to church because we know it is the right thing, or read our Bible because it is the right thing but we don’t allow it to change us. We read it quickly to get on with our day, but do not have an intention of applying what it says to our life. It just makes us feel better to have read it.
Jesus paid the ultimate price for your salvation, and he doesn’t want you to get to the point that your worship gets stale or you are just going to church because it is the right thing.
Make the choice to truly worship God with your whole heart and don’t let petty things get in the way of giving Him your first and best.
This post written by Cathy Deaton.
Please check out my other sites:
How To Deal With A Selfish Person
Handbook for Victorious Christian Living
Blueprint for Victorious Christian Living
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