“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins! Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed?
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 burlap and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?
“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.
“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!
Devotion by Chris Shiver
In the time of the Old Testament, it appears that many of the people had come to believe that ceremonial worship was more important to God, than how they lived their lives and treated others. It seems that they thought they could get away with anything that satisfied their own selfish desires if they brought enough livestock to the temples, skipped a few meals and made a show of doing penance by how they dressed.
I think the even today many believers make the mistake of thinking that church attendance, bible study, tithing, and public prayer and faith affirmations are more important that living your life, making decisions and interacting with others in ways that are pleasing to God and in-line with the teachings of Christ.
I know for me living in an affluent community, and having been blessed personally in a material or worldly sense, it is easy to fall into this trap. The only way to escape from this mindset and stay close to God for me is to be constantly aware of whether I am taking certain actions or dealing with people I meet on the basis of what benefits me the most versus what grows God’s “kindom” the most.
Jesus, I pray that you will constantly direct me away from finding ways to satisfy my own selfishness and pride, and instead help me to increasingly live in a way that is pleasing in your sight. Amen.