God personally identifies with the poor and the vulnerable in society, and he desires the same from his worshippers.
This song by Leeland will prepare your heart well for today’s devotion: Follow You by Leeland
1 “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. 3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 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 him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. 11 And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 And 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 dwell in.
13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honourable; if you honour it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob… ”
Note: Corporate fasting days was commonly part of ancient Israel’s worship.
- Read verses 1-3 and 5 and note the level of religious devotion those who received this prophesy first. What can you tell of their devotion to God?
- Why did God not answer them in their fasting?
- What injustices were they committing? (What should they not have done?) [v3-4,9,13]
- What justices were they omitting to do? (What should they have done?) [v6-7,10]
- What would be their rewards for doing justice? [v8-14]
Personal Reflection and Application
God did not answer Israel in their prayers and fasting during their festivals because they treated their workers unjustly and closed their heart towards the poor – the hungry and homeless.
- What are the chief Biblical motives to treat our workers, the hungry and the homeless with kindness? [Hint: Why do we refer to such acts as “justice”?]
- Are you treating those who work with and for you in a dignified way? (verses 3, 9)
- What is your attitude towards the hungry and homeless? How do you feel and how do you respond when you see a poor and needy person? (verses 7, 10)
- Pray about your relationship with those who work for you, the homeless and the hungry.
- How will you respond when you see a poor man today?