Fast 4: Wardens In Theology Jail?

Tuesday morning — Read Isaiah 58:9-10

crying-in-prison

9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’  If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

Verse 9 really needs verse 10 which we will look at in a moment, but there is a contrast here that goes back to the first few verses in Isaiah 58 when the people were crying out to God and his answer was that their fast was false. Their worship was false. Though their theology may have been good, their actions proved otherwise. Somehow they were driven inward and they built a “prison of righteousness” in which only the initiated could exist and they became utterly useless to those on the outside. They huddled together and pointed fingers. Yet the Lord’s fast is outward. Here the Lord essentially says, “even though you have not fasted the way I choose and have gone your own way, still I have shattered the shackles of your Enemy. If you choose the fast that I choose, THEN you are released from the prison you have constructed. Then you are free to work for justice, to clothe others, to deny yourself for the love of others, and when you call I will answer, when you cry out I will remind you that I have always been, I am, and I always will be.”

pouring-coffee-overflowWhile the Lord says to take away the pointed fingers in verse 9 he also calls us to something further. In verse 10 the Lord instructs us to “pour ourselves out for the hungry and the afflicted. Or for the purposes of this fast…the harassed and helpless.

It is like the image above suggests—pouring ourselves out so that God’s grace overflows the cup of another. Pouring ourselves out so that the Lord would raise up laborers for the harvest. Is it possible that this fast might point us to emptying ourselves like the second person of the Trinity did when he took the form of a man? (See Phil. 2).

This is often the last thing on my mind most of my day—pouring myself out and giving myself, my agenda, and my calendar over to other helpless and harassed people so that through them the Lord would raise up others to help in HIS harvest. These verses remind me that I regularly convince myself that self-pleasure, self-protection, and self-preservation are the keys to a happy life; nonetheless, Isaiah is telling us a different reality—the Gospel is the key to a happy life—giving ourselves over to others for the sake of God’s kingdom, bringing forth thebrightness of life like that of the noon sun (see also verse 8 for similar imagery).

Some examples of things to pray for this morning…

  1. that in His greatness He would humble us and correct us for any thought of religious snobbery.
  2. that He would teach us not to point fingers at outsiders rather that we would first look to ourselves and how abundantly we are loved despite our sin
  3. that the Lord would put our good theology into action and use us in our humility to raise up laborers for the harvest

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