|A portion from the Great Isaiah Scroll|
Isaiah 58 in English - Modern Translation by Shelby
Shout, give it 100%, let your voice blast like a horn to deliver the news to my people about their big mistakes, and to the house of Jacob about their sins.
They do their daily quiet time, they memorize verses and do Bible studies together, acting like a country that actually follows me and doesn’t just blow off what I have said. They ask me what I say and mean, they like all the fuzzy warm parts of this religious experience.
They ask me, “Why don’t you notice how much we’re giving up for you? Why don’t you care about how we’re being sacrificial?”
Okay now, this is why: At the same time that you give things up, you demand more of those fueling the consumer system you live in because you still want your comforts and appearances. And this: your sacrifices only make you irritable and defensive, quick to lash out at others, and that is evil. This kind of sacrifice will absolutely not make me listen to your prayers.
Do you think this is the kind of sacrifice I want? The kind of humility I want in a person? Is sacrifice just self-deprecation and complaining and making your suffering visible to everyone? Is this what you think will give you access to me and get you answers to your prayers?
Isn’t this the “sacrifice” I’m looking for: to break chains of every kind that hold people captive, to unshackle fetters, to give the oppressed what I have told you are their basic human rights, and to break down the systems that keep people from freedom? Isn’t the point to not just give up stuff but to actually use your resources to help those without? Giving your food to those who are hungry? Giving your home to the homeless or refugee? Giving your clothes to those who need them? Not just keeping your status and wealth and conscience hidden away from your fellow humans in desperate need?
If you do this, suddenly everything will finally be as you’ve longed for it to be, and the evil and suffering in the world will finally be healed. The right and just things you do will be your reputation and credentials, and my incredible power and presence will be with you to protect you. If you do this, suddenly you will find that God will answer your calls, and when you cry out to him he will cry right back, “I am right here!” So if you want him, then get rid of all this stuff that is all around you: chains of oppression, finger-pointing, and destructive words that shouldn’t be said. Also give of yourself, your soul and your resources, to those in need, working so that the people who have suffered so much may be full of comfort in their hearts, minds, and bodies. All of this will bring up your light into the darkness, your right way of life into this messed up world.
Then God will guide you further and further and will fill up your heart, soul, and mind in the driest, most desert-like times and places. He will strengthen your innermost being and make you like a flourishing garden, green and lush, that is so full of the water of life that it overflows out of you onto all around you and satisfies them too.
Even into the cities, those who come after you will rebuild everything that has been long in ruins, and your actions now will lay the foundations again for generations to come. You will be called the Reconciler, you will be known as one who restores the world back into how it was in the beginning, a place for all to live in safety and wholeness.
If you will stop doing whatever you want on the Sabbath - the one day a week I set apart for rest – and instead actually make that day different, delightful, and honoring to me by not focusing on your own comforts, entertainments, and consumption - If you do this, you will find that I am far more of a delight than any of the rest of it, and I will make you feel like you are soaring above the highest points on earth, and I will give you all the wonderful things I have longed to give you and promised to your father Jacob, because this is what I have said that I will do.
I was torn between continuing to write about Isaiah or between writing a post for Mother's Day, but I realized just how connected they are for me. I owe so much of my love for Scripture to my mom. I was shaped by growing up around a breakfast table where we read the Bible and memorized chapter after chapter of it. My mom loved the name of Jesus in Hebrew, Yeshua, for as long as I can remember. She would cry when we read through the account of the crucifixion. She would ask what something from the Scripture really means, and how we can really apply it to our lives. I am so grateful for the love of God's word that my mother instilled in me.