My friend Greg is a thoughtful and dedicated believer who seeks to continually examine his walk and relationship with the Lord. It does not surprise me that one of his favorite passages in Isaiah 58:6-12. Take a close look at these verses with me and see why Greg receives insight, challenges and reassurance for his walk with Christ. I have chosen the NLT as it makes it easier to understand.
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help. God was speaking to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah. They were fasting and proclaiming their ‘religiosity’ before men without having their hearts dedicated to the Lord. God is telling them, and us, that He desires true dedication and devotion that is evident in our lives by the things we do. Do we see to the needs of others? Seek to help the less fortunate? When was the last time you worked at a soup kitchen, gave to the homeless or sought to uplift a suffering friend? Food for thought and action.
God told them if they did these things and had a right heart for others then they would be truly rewarded. 8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. Seeing to the needs of others leads to blessings and a deeper walk with God. Here Isaiah mentions- salvation, godliness, protection and answered prayer as benefits of being a humble servant.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
In this last section, Isaiah continues with instructions for not gossiping or putting down others but challenges us to be about feeding the hungry and seeing to the needs of others. Then we will find that the Lord guides, restores and strengthens us like a well-watered garden! Verse 12 reminds us that all of us are not called to do the same thing. God has many ways for us to show ourselves to be His humble servants. It is a challenge with confirmation. Pray and seek God’s guidance of where He has for you to serve and to whom He has for you to give a helping hand.
Thanks Greg for challenging us with this wonderful passage. May we all be more open and receptive to His guidance and may we receive the benefits of His blessings with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts.