Isaiah 58: The message is timeless as a lesson for all people who would draw near to GOD.
Here was group of people who were very religious fulfilling the requirements of OT church. They fasted, they prayed, every day they went to the worship, offered sacrifices for sins, they thought they were pleasing GOD because they seemed to be delighting to learn about HIM. They acted like a nation of people who lived righteous lives and as if they lived in GOD’s requirement for them. Also they turned to GOD to get HIM to act on their behalf, they thought they wanted to be near GOD.
They asked “What are you on about GOD? What more can you expect us to do?” Look at us we have made effort we have been very hard on ourselves and we haven’t even caught your attention. YOU GOD are ignoring us! (How dare you after all our wonderful effort) Look what we have done for you! How ungrateful you are GOD. (Is 58: 2 – 3a)
GOD’s reply is instructive to us today. Here is GOD’s reply to those people. (Is 58: 3b – 7)
“You are trying to please yourselves even in your greatest effort you call fasting.
Now remember they supposedly delight to know GOD yet GOD says of them
- You pretend to humble yourselves (HE knows every heart and sees the true condition). Once in my early 20’s I was standing in my AoG church at Stafford In Brisbane and a visiting brother brought a strong rebuking prophecy saying You are rebellious, strong willed and stubborn. At the time I thought ‘someone’s in for it” Then I madea mistake before I realised it I asked “Is it me , Lord?’
- You just don’t get it – you have not connected the dots – you say you want to learn about me but you oppress your workers lay heavy burdens on them. You are oppressors not burden lifters. (Now there is a message for many full on over active churches)
“You don’t please me” GOD says “This is not what I want’
This is what I want!’
- Set prisoners free who have been wrongfully imprisoned
- Those who work with you lighten their burden – Wayne PS – the more evangelical charismatic Pentecostal a church the more inclined we are to put burdens on our supporters to accomplish our ends. We are not burden lifters we become oppressors and that is not the heart of GOD
- The word of the LORD is set them free, do not bind them to yourself remove the chains of oppression and bondage, share what food you have with those who are hungry and open your homes to the homeless, give clothes to those who need them and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
In other words be Shephers who care Eze 34.
The consequences for any group of GOD’s people are enormous whether you choose to follow God or whether you choose to reject what GOD says.
For those who listen and decide to follow HE says
- Guidance, progress and maturity
- Glory of GOD and protection
- THEN dialogue with GOD. He will acknowledge you
Here is the amazing thing after HE says all these benefits HE reiterates HIS warning plead
- Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
- Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
- Feed the hungry,
- and help those in trouble.
Then HE reiterates the benefits to us who hear and forsake our own way
- We will become light
- And behold the darkness around us will become like the noonday
- The Lord will guide you continually,
- giving you water when you are dry
- and restoring your strength.
- You will be like a well-watered garden,
- like an ever-flowing spring.
Then a promise of a profound ministry. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
- Then HE speaks about rest. Now the OT people equated rest with the Sabbath
- As NT people our rest is more profound, more encompassing the whole of life
- Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
The question is one of closeness
The ways of God continually call for those who hear to follow. The passage is about discipleship, the Cross and for laying down of life for others so His Kingdom may come to them.
- Either we walk in His Ways or we are doing things our way – the two are not compatible, neither do they complement each other – His ways are higher than our ways – a lesson each soul and each group of His people have to learn
- Either we deal with the sins of our ways or He will deal with us in life with loving discipline to bring us back into health, well-being and a joyous satisfaction knowing we are in a good place because He is there. Revelation 7 churches.
- Either we will learn from GOD’s dealings with HIS people in Scripture or we will be dealt with according to HIS ways in Life.
- Either we are religious relegating God to the rear seat of our lives or we are in relationship with Him in the driving seat ever coming closer to Him, leaning upon His breast, being near Him
- Either we are living the Way (Jesus) in the fear and love of God or we have the disposition of exalting pride where we think we know best, our decisions are best for us, our way pleases us – thus we exalt ourselves bending ourselves away from God in self-absorption replicating our forebears’ sin to be ‘like God’ – such is pure enmity towards God. This self-deifying attitude leads us to destruction, distance far from God