Summary: Jesus preached good news to the poor. He freed prisoners and brought healing to a broken world. God invites us to love people with His love. To visit the sick, to clothe the naked, to feed the poor, to care for our own flesh and blood - the human family.

 Fasting and Faith that Matters to God

Isaiah 58:1-14:

"Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 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. ’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.

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. Is 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? "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?

"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 him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then 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. 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, 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. 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.

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. "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, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights

of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

This is a powerful passage in Scripture that somehow has not found its way into common use within the church. There are a number of startling images we see here in the Word of God. Reflecting on some of them might help us see why it is that God included this passage in His holy Word.

Clearly as we look at this passage, Isaiah is not speaking to those outside the faith, those outside

the church in our context. In a prophetic voice, speaking for God, he refers to his audience as ‘his

people’. And it’s clear that he’s not simply talking about those in the church who are not engaged in the church, those who are uninterested in seeking God.

How do we know this? The message is to God’s people who seek him. The seek him out, they look to him for real guidance, they are engaged with the Almighty, they for all appearances sure look like they want to know God.

“For day after day they seek me out”. says Isaiah: “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”.

These are eager beavers in the church. They’re at all the prayer meetings for sure. They really want God, they want to know his will, they believe sincerely that they are living right before God, they make a big deal about not doing the wrong things. Probably have lists of things Christians aren’t suppose to do, and for the most part endeavor to be faithful to their lists.

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