Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Isaiah 58 - On Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy

Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Scratch the needle on the DJ's table!
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people America of their sins!
Yet they act so pious, so righteous, so deserving!

They come to the Church every Sunday and Wednesday,
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God - they even make laws in my name.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.


‘We have fasted before you! We have committed prayers,’ they whine.
‘Why aren’t you impressed? We sure are!
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond.
It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in sadness
and cover yourselves with ashes. You cry during prayer gatherings. You bemoan presidents and policies.

Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?

Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Miss. (LOC)

No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;

lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

 Prison Labor in Louisana on the Mississippi River 4a17926v

Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.

Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.

Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring, full of veggies and fluoride-free.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.


Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.

Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

(Slight edits to make it more contemporary. But really, shoot, what hasn't changed here?)


  1. Gee... No wonder we murdered the prophets.

    I truly feel that the end of Isaiah and Matthew 23 should be some of the most revisited passages in Christendom; like, every church leadership meeting. Revelation is just as convicting in a similar way. I just don't understand how we can read these and think they are only applicable to some other group.

    Totally convicting. Every danged time.

    1. Oh yeah; also, ultimately, really encouraging


Be kind. Rewind.