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Remember how we said a few stories back that even though Isaiah told the people so many hopeful things that would come later, he still had to keep shouting out that they were not making God happy with how they were living now?
God told Isaiah, “Shout out! Don’t keep quiet! Make your voice like a trumpet and speak out because something is really wrong here!
“My people say they are godly. They say they want to know Me and serve Me. They say to Me, ‘Look God, we skipped meals and wore scratchy clothes for You. So why are You not paying attention to us, God?’”
But God answered them, “Hello. Why am I not paying attention?! You’re arguing, getting into fights, and even punching each other! You hurt your neighbors and the widows and your workers. The way you live goes against My heart and against My justice.
“Do you really think all I want from you is a day when you don’t eat and put dirt on your head? I won’t hear you just because you act humble for one day! Don’t you know what true fasting is?
“True fasting is taking care of people. It’s breaking off the chains of sin and setting people free. It’s sharing your food with people who are hungry. It’s being a shelter to those who don’t have a place to go. True fasting is giving clothes to people who need them. It’s taking care of your family. It’s lifting up those who have been crushed by others. That’s what pleases Me.”
God was telling them that He didn’t want them doing religious good deeds if they were going to treat each other so badly. I tried to think of some examples for you so that you could understand:
Is your mommy happy if you want to help her clean the dishes but you shove your little brother to get to the kitchen before him? Hello?! No. Not happy.
Or if you’re told to pick up the toys but instead of starting with your own toys, you decide to start with your friend’s toys that they’re still playing with. Maybe you even knock over a friend’s block tower as you say, “I’m just trying to be good and pick up the toys.” Hello?! No. Not happy.
Or what about fussing or fighting over who gets to pick the next Bible story to listen to. Hello?! No. Not happy.
Do you see how trying to do a supposedly “good” thing while being mean or selfish at the same time, makes the WHOLE thing yucky? The whole thing is yucky because the heart is still yucky.
What God really wanted from them, and from us, was to live a LIFE of loving others. Not just doing some “good” things here and there. The way you live your life matters.
Listen to what God said would happen if they would make changes to their everyday choices to love, love, love.
God said, “And if you love and care for others, then your light will burst forth like a sunrise and the power of a new life will come quickly. Your right acts of love will be your path forward, forward, forward. And I will be glory and protection behind you.”
“Then when you cry out, I will say, ‘Here I am!’ IF you stop putting heavy loads on each other. Get rid of the burdens that you’re weighing people down with.
“Everyone must stop pointing fingers and saying, ‘He did it.’ ‘No, she did it.’ ‘No, they did it.’ You are heaping up your sins when you open your mouth and talk.
“But if you stop all that, then you can be like a light shining bright in the darkness. Then I will always be leading you and guiding you. I will always feed you and you will always have brand new strength. You can be like a fountain of water and a happy, well-watered garden. The things that were ruined in you will be rebuilt, and you will be called Rebuilder of Walls and a Fixer of Homes as you help others. You will find joy, joy, joy in your relationship with Me.”
So you see, the people were blaming God for not paying attention to them. They were upset that He wasn’t listening to them or helping them, but it was their fault all along, not His!
Isaiah could see this, so he spoke for all the people, admitting to God how much they had all sinned.
Isaiah said, “Yes, this is why we haven’t been delivered. We have been waiting for light, but only see darkness. Our only way to move around is to feel our way in the dark along the wall. You, God, You know how bad we’ve been. We want to be saved, but salvation is still far away. We have pushed justice faaaaar away. Honesty trips over rocks in the street, and good deeds can’t even come in. Truth has all but disappeared. And even the one who tries to do right is treated badly. The Lord is not happy, for there is no one to bring Justice. And He is shocked that no one has tried to stop the madness by helping people who have been pushed down! So the Lord has decided that He will take care of this problem Himself.”
What do you think He’s gonna do? How’s He gonna take care of it? Go to the next story to find out.