The people fast, they call on God, they clothe themselves in ashes and sackloth… but God doesn't come to them. If you're honest with yourself, does this sound familiar to you in your life? It is for me. Is it for you?
`We have fasted before you!' they say. `Why aren't you impressed? We have done much penance, and you don't even notice it!'
That's what the people say. I said it too. I yelled. I screamed. And God replied:
"I will tell you why! It's because you are living for yourselves even while you are fasting. You keep right on oppressing your workers.
God goes on telling them how shallow they are, but I'll skip to the good stuff – the solution…
"No, the kind of fasting I want…
Heh. Straight talk. This should be interesting! I'm sitting up straight and paying attention. What DOES God want?
… the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn.
I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them
Hmmm… share MY food with the hungry? They should go get a job! Welcome poor wanderers into MY clean home? Ugh. Give MY clothes to bums?
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Holy cow. This isn't what I see anyone else doing?! How come I have to do all this and they don't?
"If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn. Yes, your healing will come quickly.
Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the LORD will answer. `Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply.
"Stop oppressing the helpless and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry and help those in trouble.
Yeah yeah, ok, I get it. I need to love others as I love myself.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day. The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities.
Wow. I wonder what all of this means to you?
To me it says that if I love the people around me and invest into them, share what I have gained for myself, share what I have, love others – then God will rally around to me and help me in my life and the blessing may be so strong that even my children will be affected by the blessings and they will go on to help repair the broken fabric of society.
That's what I hear, what do you hear in these words from isaiah 58:6-12 ?