As I went to write about today’s chapters, I looked back at Carly’s from last time and she really takes the words out of my mouth.
58:3-4 sounds to me like, “fasting the way you do it only makes you hangry and a bad boss.”
Instead of a self-deprivation that makes us cranky, and simultaneously self-righteous, why not deprive yourself for the sake of others?
Something I admire about how Muslims observe Ramadan, is how they “do it for the poor”. The purpose of this fast is to sympathize with the hungry, then collect an offering for the poor from the money saved during the fast. What a lovely idea.
The more I study the Bible and the law, the more I see how no command is an empty rule for the sake of discipline. Everything is for the practice of loving God and others, which is why Jesus can sum up the whole law and prophets (aka the Old Testament) with this One Greatest Commandment.
He wants us to take care of one another, and not just those who form symbiotic relationships with us. The hungry, homeless, naked, oppressed, afflicted, etc. He says He’s with this crowd.
“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.” (57:15)
He has a special relationship with this group. He is with them and invites us to join.
“And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. “And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (58:10-11)
These verses really hit me, because I can attest to their truth. Much of my adult life has been a bonkers path of closed doors, disappointments, failed plans and dissatisfaction. This somehow all changed when my heart locked into a dedication to refugees. I had no idea what I was doing when I got into this work, but somehow the LORD has boosted my income and given me one open door and victory after another. He was already with them, and I’ve experienced His power in the most profound ways ever since joining Him in loving them.
He loves us, yes, but His blessings are so we can bless others. This is life lived abundantly. He dwells in high, but also with the broken, drawing ever near for healing and revival.