For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
God’s people were seeking Him. They were engaging in worship – holding days of fasting, and they were asking the question: “We’re fasting and seeking God, but He is not delivering. He is not answering our questions. Why? Why? Why? We’ve humbled ourselves today in His Presence. How come He is not helping us?”
Through Isaiah God points out that on their single day of fasting they do as they please. They begin the day by exploiting their workers. They end the day with fistfights. And then God says, “You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high” (vs. 4).
This is a lesson on worship! The danger the Israelites had is the same as we have. You can place a wrong emphasis on the time and place of worship, and like punching a timecard, feel as though you have given God what He requires. You can put too much stock in a mode of worship (even one as spiritually powerful and effective as fasting!) and miss the expressions of worship that truly honor God.
Through Isaiah God tells his people the kind of worship He is looking for from them.
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
This worship actually doesn’t occur during the hour on Sunday. This worship happens apart from our ‘days of fasting.’ Those are important elements of worship, but if we think they are the beginning and the end of a life of worship that honors God, we are mistaken. Worship happens all the time – or at least the opportunity to worship does. Worship continues for the Christ-follower… the God-fearer. It is observed by us and God in the things we do and the lives we lead. If we have the sense that worship is separate from the rest of our lives, Isaiah 58 speaks to us! What we do matters. What we do can be worship to the One who created us.
When this is the kind of worship that we bring to God, then He promises to hear from heaven!
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Holy God – You are worthy of all my life and more! I seek You today and thank You for the grace I’ve received through Your Son, Jesus. Receive this day of worship from me in all the things I do. Help me to see as You see and do what You would do. Use me to help the poor and loose the chains of injustice. Prompt me when worship opportunities like this arise. My heart is to bring honor to You. Thank You for the ways You will answer me today. You are awe-some, God Most High.