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Loose the Bonds of Wickedness

May 17, 2010
 Yesterday, my friend Byron preached a fantastic sermon on Isaiah 58, a remarkable passage that I was startled to find that I didn’t remember ever noticing it or having heard it before.  Just goes to show how rarely we are ever led to consider those passages that smack of liberation theology.  This passage is particularly challenging in its rejection of the “worship first, justice later” paradigm that is so prevalent in our circles, as it is unsettling to note that the worship being condemned is genuine heartfelt worship, not hypocrisy or empty show.  The passage was so striking, I thought I would post verses 1-11 here:
1 “Cry aloud, spare not;
      Lift up your voice like a trumpet; 
      Tell My people their transgression, 
      And the house of Jacob their sins. 
       2 Yet they seek Me daily, 
      And delight to know My ways, 
      As a nation that did righteousness, 
      And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. 
      They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; 
      They take delight in approaching God. 
       3 ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? 
      Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ 
      “ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, 
      And exploit all your laborers. 
       4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, 
      And to strike with the fist of wickedness. 
      You will not fast as you do this day, 
      To make your voice heard on high. 
       5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, 
      A day for a man to afflict his soul? 
      Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, 
      And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? 
      Would you call this a fast, 
      And an acceptable day to the LORD? 
       6 “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen: 
      To loose the bonds of wickedness, 
      To undo the heavy burdens, 
      To let the oppressed go free, 
      And that you break every yoke? 
       7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, 
      And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; 
      When you see the naked, that you cover him, 
      And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 
       8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, 
      Your healing shall spring forth speedily, 
      And 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 extend your soul to the hungry 
      And satisfy the afflicted soul, 
      Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, 
      And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 
       11 The LORD will guide you continually, 
      And satisfy your soul in drought, 
      And strengthen your bones; 
      You shall be like a watered garden, 
      And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 
       12 Those from among you 
      Shall build the old waste places; 
      You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; 
      And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, 
      The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”


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