Isaiah 58:1-12 (Amplified Bible)
1CRY ALOUD, spare not. Lift up your voice like a trumpet and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins!
2Yet they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally] to know My ways, as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God [in visible ways].
3Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor.(A)
4[The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high.
5Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6[Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke?(B)
7Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house--when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
8Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.(C)
9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am. If you take away from your midst yokes of oppression [wherever you find them], the finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and every form of false, harsh, unjust, and wicked speaking,(D)
10And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday.
11And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.
12And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let us pray.
Well here we are getting ready to prepare our hearts and minds on Lent. This is a time where we prepare our hearts and minds in reminding ourselves about the passion that Christ had on us. This is a time that we commemorate the time where he fasted forty days and forty nights in the desert.
We normally make the occasion by giving up a bad habit of some sort. The thing that most people give up is sweets during this time period as way of observing the season, but needless to say that they eat half a pound cake with their Easter dinner. I speak on that as one of authority because I did that one year. That was a bad year for me… I did a lot of emotional eating.
But the purpose of doing this is not give up a bad habit for forty days and then go back to it. The psychology behind all of this is that if you can give up a bad habit for forty days, then you should have that bad habit licked, but people go back to the same ole same ole. That’s not what God wants.
But when we talk about fasting, the prophet Isaiah is setting some folk straight. Isaiah tells us that we need to shout. And it’s not just any shout… we need to let out a full throat shout! We need to let out a shout that is subject to make the foundation of this church shake because should hold nothing back when we worship because when it comes to God we are made out of glass. Now, many of us may have cracks in us, but guess what… God says to us that he can still use us to let our light shine through. So what if we have impurities because glass can be recycled, but when we go through the heat… we will be fortified and better than before.