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Isaiah wrote about the kind of behavior God asks from his followers. Rather than the simple observance of religious rites, he called for action on behalf of fellow humans.
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin? (Isaiah 58.6-7)
When people follow God’s direction, they can expect God’s provision and assistance. We can trust God to assist us in every way.
Healing, Vindication, Protection, and Answered Prayer
When God’s people return to him with humble obedience, they can expect a “welcome home” from God similar to what the Prodigal Son received from his father (Luke 15.11-32).
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. (Isaiah 58.8-9)
As God’s people care for the vulnerable of society, they can expect four benefits from God.
(1) Healing – When we return to God and begin following his direction, the broken relationship between God and his people will heal.
In the mid-1800s, a German Lutheran pastor sought God fervently for a distressed woman in his congregation. On the night she was healed from demonic forces, a powerful revival swept through their town.
Relationships were healed, bodies were healed, and many were drawn to a new trust in God.
The obedience of the pastor was rewarded by a powerful healing ministry that lasted into the early 1900s.
(2) Vindication – When God’s people rebel against his principles, a watching world wonders if what they claim about God is true.
When they return to God and experience his activity, observers will see that their words match reality.
(3) Protection – In the YouTube video today, Rudy Ross reminds us of the Exodus from Egypt. God’s people had the Red Sea in front of them and the powerful Egyptian army close behind them.
God’s glory became their rear guard. His presence protected them from the advancing threat of their enemy.
There is no greater protection to be found than when we are living in relationship with God and following his guidance.
(4) Answered Prayer – Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15.7).
Jesus highlighted obedience when he spoke of abiding in a relationship with him and his word. When we live in this fashion, we can expect our prayers to be answered.
Humans have a short memory span, so instructions were repeated along with further encouragement to obedience.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
If you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58.9-11)
A contentious, argumentative, critical spirit is addressed in God’s reminder about his guidance.
In my 50 years of Christian experience, I have seen the church address certain sins as highly objectionable. What is interesting is that we seldom call to attention divisive speech or greed. Aren’t they sins, too?
Divisiveness and greed are on God’s agenda. Love is free from contention and helps free others from poverty.
When we extend loving words and actions toward others, God promises blessing to us.
Verse 11 is very reminiscent of Psalm 1.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1.3)
Frank Laubach’s Example
Dr. Frank Laubach is a powerful example of someone who lived an Isaiah 58 style of life. He blended a laudable prayer life with a powerful ministry to the poor, oppressed, and vulnerable of the earth.
God produced through the life of Frank Laubach the picture of Isaiah 59.12.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in. (Isaiah 58.12)
Laubach’s prayer life is the source of several books by him and about him. For this article I want to focus on the results of the combination of a deep connection with God and love for humans.
More than any one person who has ever lived, Laubach caused literacy to be a part of the Philippines, India, and South America. Millions, possibly billions, of people are able to read because of his ministry in the years 1920s-1950s.
God used him to repair and restore broken places in the earth. Laubach gave the world the example of someone who had a powerful prayer life, a missionary heart, and a social conscience.
May we all respond to Isaiah 58 as did Dr. Frank Laubach.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I have an accompanying video to this blog. It is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy adds insights that come from years of Bible study and a love for the Lord.
Please email your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.