Today’s reading: Isaiah 54-58.
America needs help. The world needs help! These are troubled times, and people are looking for answers. Like a sick person looking for a cure, or a hungry child trying to find food, people are anxious. We like to solve our own problems, but today’s problems may be too big for us. God has a prescription for what’s wrong, and he wants to share it.
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. Isaiah 58:8-9
Like most prescriptions, this one calls for some action from the patient. The medicine won’t work unless it is part of a holistic plan of treatment.
We must begin to end oppression. “Loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, … set the oppressed free and break every yoke.”
We must care for those who are needy. “Share your food with the hungry and … provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, … clothe him.”
We must treat people with respect. “Do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.”
We must honor the Sabbath. “Keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, … call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable … honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words.”
It won’t do any good to tell the lost to do these things. God is telling us, his people, to change. The stakes are high, for if we do what he commands,
your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Isaiah 58:10-12
If we want healing and help, it’s available. But the medicine won’t work without radical change on our part. Do you want God to satisfy your needs? He says begin by helping someone who needs food or shelter. Do you want the old ways honored and restored? God says honor the Lord’s day. Do you want God’s light to shine on you? He says shine your light of respect on others. Do you want what’s broken to be fixed? He says to break the chains that enslave people.
This won’t be easy. I’m sitting here thinking, as I write, how I can change and do these things. My answer, for now, is to do something, even something small, and keep this list before me so that I can remember to do these things. How about you? Will you pledge to keep this list before you and keep making small steps to fulfill it?
Image by Thomas Hawk on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0