God Wants our Hearts # 52

#52 for Jan. 17, 2019

	­Something was wrong with the religion of God’s people:. “Declare to my people their rebellion...they seem eager to know my ways...eager for God to come near them,” (Isa.58:1-2) yet they weren't obeying God but rather were 
oppressing their workers.
God isn’t interested in empty, outward-only rituals. He wants our hearts.
Verse three
shows that the people were fasting, not to express gratitude and sub-mission to God, but rather to manipulate him to do what they wanted him to do.
This doesn't please God.
In contrast, God’s blessing is given freely to those who are in an unbroken
covenant relationship with him. The evidence of this covenant relationship is
ethical behavior. God wants people to stop oppressing the poor (treat them fairlyand give them what they earn), rather than being greedy and selfish. He wants
us to help people see the light, and delight in the Lord.
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to
undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (
v.6). Oppression is the “unjustly harsh exercise of authority and power,” like a
dictatorship. One example in our country is low wages for migrant farm workers.See:
http://nfwm.org/education-center/farm-worker-issues/low-wages/. People
should be paid fair wages for the work they do, not less because they are poor
and will take anything they can get. This applies to household help, also. Perhaps the worker will take less than minimum wage because of desperation, but they
should be given at least minimum wage, and more after being trained if they are doing a good job.
Another example of oppression is the way homeless people are treated.
According to
http://www.franciscan-anglican.com/Homelessness.htm, homeless
youth are sometimes beaten
by the police just for sitting on the sidewalk becausethey have no place to go. There are many other examples, too. Many people are
trapped in poverty.
In The Message Bible, Eugene H. Peterson says God wants us “to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed,
cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with thehungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes o,n the
shivering ill-clad, being available to your own familie
s,” (Isaiah 58:6-7). Then God will shed his glorious light upon you, He will heal you; yourgodliness will lead you forward, and goodness will be a shield before you, and
the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind (v.8). Then, when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” he will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak, and to stop making false accusations and spreading
vicious rumors!”
(v.9 Living Bible). The RSV gives a little different understanding of the last part of v. 9. “If 
you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and
speaking wickedness,”
says more than just ‘stop’ doing something. For instance, Dr. John M. Perkins, who grew up oppressed in Mississippi, got a way out of
poverty and oppression through basketball. Yet, he went back to Mississippi and started many programs to help others get out from under oppression. We can
help others, also. Even if we don’t personally know any poor people, many of us can go on mission trips or otherwise help the poor, or at least send donations to Christian ministries to help them.
Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Suffering
Servant, and he asks those who follow him to do “
unto the least of these, my
brethren, what you would do unto me.” Matt. 25:34-40.
Judith Vander Wege (blog #52)

 

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