TO CHEW ON: "If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then…" - Isaiah 58:10.
What activities give you a sense of relief that you've done your "duty" to God? Regular church attendance? Going to the weekly prayer meeting? Reading your Bible every morning?
In our reading today Isaiah points out two religious activities the Israelites practice: fasting and Sabbath-keeping. But God is unimpressed. For while the people are doing these things, they are simultaneously violating what matters most to God.
In the area of fasting, it's not abstaining from food that pleases God when the people are living for themselves in other areas. Isaiah highlights their mistreatment of the poor living among them. They've oppressed some and ignored others. What "fast" would please God?
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness …
To share your bread with the hungry
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out…
When you see the naked, that you cover him… If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul…" - Isaiah 58:6,7,10 (emphases added).
This passage shows me up. We have the homeless living right among us setting up tents in the city parks and sleeping in doorways. We give to charities that support them by offering meals and beds for the night. But am I willing to bring to my house the poor who are cast out and extend my soul to the hungry? This sounds like a personal physical and emotional involvement.
The rewards of honouring God in both these areas are attractive (Isaiah 58:8-12, 14). In fact, I've taken Isaiah 58:11 as a verse to memorize and claim for my life. You may have done the same.
"The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail" - Isaiah 58:11.
But it has a context. I ask, do I, do we have any right to claim the blessings of the verdant fruitfulness of Isaiah 58:11 over our lives if we've ignored the conditions of Isaiah 58:6,7,10?
PRAYER: Dear Father, please help me to see practical ways I can express Your heart of love toward everyone, especially the homeless that live on my streets. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.