Summary: EPIPHANY 5(A) - Believers worhsip God with reverence and awe not just on one but as a way of life.

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Isaiah 58:5-9a - February 8, 2004

ISAIAH 58:5-9a

5Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on 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?

7Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

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Dearest Christian Friends and Fellow-Redeemed:

Sunday is always a special day. Believers enjoy Sunday as a special day, because it is an opportunity and a privilege for us to gather together to be able to hear God’s Word and to sing praises to our Heavenly Father. Today, we also are reminded that not only is Sunday a special day, but everyday is to be a special day. Every day is a day that the Lord has given us to live by His grace. Any day is a day in which we can always sing praises to God. That is the point that Isaiah is making for us this morning. We don’t want to think that Sunday is our only day of worship. The Lord wants us to realize that worship is more than a day--it is a way of life. In the book of Hebrews the writer says: "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe"(HEBREWS 12:28). God gives us the reason why we are thankful. He gives us the reason why we worship the Lord God with reverence and awe, because the Lord has provided for each one of us, just as He has provided for every believer, a kingdom that cannot be shaken. God has provided us eternity in heaven. The people during the time of Isaiah had forgotten that. So it is that as the Lord reminds them as he reminds us this morning:


I. With reverence and awe more than on one day

II. With reverence and awe worship is a way of life

I. Worship is more than one day

If you were to look at the first verses of Isaiah, chapter 58, you would find that the prophet talks about fasting and how the people had abused it. Now, fasting was a ritual observance, an observance where people went without food as a sign that they were humble before God. They went without food so that they might focus their attention on the worship that was to take place. But what had happened is that it became just that. It became just a ritual, something for them to do. So Isaiah, as our text begins, asks them a question: 5Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? The people of the Old Testament were given the commandment--remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. So they were anxious to keep that one day holy. Isaiah says, "Is this only one day to be kept holy? Is this how you prepare yourself by fasting and getting ready for one day?"

There were more problems than that. He goes on: Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? As you look real close at these words, you realize that people were doing this in order that others may notice them just as one notices a reed that is bent in the wind and ready to break off. Isaiah says that the people would bow their heads when people would notice and that they would lie on sackcloth and ashes that other people would notice. Again, they were doing all these things to worship God only in an outward way. They had forgotten the importance in their hearts of the importance of the heart of worship. Isaiah writes: Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? He comes back to that and mentions it a couple of times in our text. They were so stuck on that one day--the Sabbath Day--that they had forgotten the importance of God’s unshakable kingdom.

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