Reading: Isaiah 58:1-5
Verse 2: “They seem eager to know my ways… seem eager for God to come near them.”
The title to Isaiah 58 is “True Fasting” in my NIV Bible. This chapter begins with God telling Isaiah, “Shout it aloud, do not hold back... Declare to my people their rebellion… their sins.” It is not a good day for Israel. We too have these days once in a while. In the next verse God observes, “They seem eager to know my ways… seem eager for God to come near them.” To me, “seem” is the important word here. Israel is kinda pursuing God, but not really.
Evaluating their fasting God declares, “Yet on the day of your fasting you do as you please.” It is not a time set apart to honor God and to draw close to God. It’s almost become the opposite. The Israelites “exploit all your workers” and they are “striking each other with wicked fists.” We too can fall into this trap. We can claim we’re ‘Christian’ or we can do something ‘religious’ and neither bring God glory nor draw closer to God ourselves. We can seem to be faithful when we are anything but.
In verses 4 God tells the people, “You cannot fast as you do today and expect to be heard on high.” The walking of the walk must be consistent and steady. Going on, God asks a rhetorical question: “Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” There is no good answer to this question. So we must ask: reflecting on our religious practices, when or why might God ask us the same question?
Prayer: Lord God, when I am tempted to play the game, to just show up in body, but not in mind, heart, and spirit, convict me quickly. Use the Holy Spirit to call my selfishness and sin out, to wake me up to my falsehood. Help me, O Lord, to be authentic to you in all of my ways. Amen.