Text: Isaiah 58 (Read it here.)
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
(Isaiah 58.13-14, NIV)
Disappointed with God
Author: Ralph Beistle
Have you thought that things seem to be going from bad to worse? And wonder why our culture seems to be trying to get rid of religion? They don’t want religion, and don’t want us to have it either. Have you wondered why God hasn’t overruled circumstances to right the wrongs that seem to multiply with increasing rapidity?
Isaiah 58 reveals some disturbing questions that God asked people who claimed to be His people, but were disappointed with God. Isaiah expressed God’s view of their situation, saying:
“For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’”
Those complainers were not trying to eliminate religion, but were people who thought God should be “fixing” things the way they would like them to be. Notice how they felt so deserving, but God was not impressed.
God made it clear that He had not become distant, but rather they had failed to follow His way:
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”
But God’s blessings are still attainable, subject to the willingness of the people to accept the conditions He would require of them:
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if
you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,”
Rather than being disappointed with God, we should remember that God wants to bless. The question is: are people wanting them enough to change their ways?
When we observe the Sabbath or a fast, as is mentioned in Isaiah 58.3-5, we do not do it to gain something or to be rewarded for our diligence to God, but we do it to know God better. How have you found yourself at times fasting, observing Sabbath, or acting on some other discipline is such a way that misses the point? How can you take on such disciplines in a way so as to humble yourself before God?
How do you act to “loose the chains of injustice” or “ set the oppressed free?” How can you do this better? What specific thing can you do to accomplish this today?
How well do you observe Sabbath? Do you find it to be a day of rest and remembrance of God or a day off from work which gives you an opportunity to fill the day with other busy work? How have you found joy in taking Sabbath-rest before God?