Isaiah 58:1-12 ~ told by Deborah
The Eternal spoke to me and said:
Shout and scream and yell your head off. Pull the fire alarm, blow the trumpet, unfurl a banner next to the freeway. Do whatever it takes to get My people’s attention.
This is serious: it’s something they must be told. They’re headed for disaster, like blind men walking into the path of a freight train, or lemmings headed for the edge of a cliff.
They’ve really screwed up royally, and the outcome won’t be good.
Day in and day out they call to Me, asking for help in the face of their terrible troubles — as if they are pillars of goodness and grace. They are like those who have stepped in dog poop and then wonder why their feet stink.
They say they want Me to patch things up, to bring peace and harmony, to jump in and save the day like some celestial Superman; they declare how much they would love Me — if only I would do what they say.
How they love to talk to Me! My ears are filled with their incessant chattering, demanding that I arrange the world according to their tastes. “Make justice roll down like mighty waters,” “heal our pain,” “deliver us from evil,” blah blah blah….
Meanwhile they are unfair, unjust, and viciously unkind to one another. They say they long for community as they gather in whispering, hissing clans like so many dens of vipers.
“What’s going on up there?” they demand, “Why don’t You fix the situation — don’t You see what a mess we’re in? Are You ignoring those You’ve promised to save?
“We give our old clothes to the Salvation Army, spend Thanksgiving at the food bank, and post endless streams of Facebook memes. And who do You think paid for resurfacing the fellowship hall parking lot?”
Yeah, right. All that you do serves your own interest: inflating your ego, adding to your reputation, contributing to your fantasies of saving the world — as you tear it apart, hour by hour, word by word, step by step.
Listen: you fast only to feel superior to another: “I know what it is to go hungry!” You condemn others for sitting in judgment, despise those who are different, and curse those who disagree with you.
You are like the gardener who plants rosebushes and then covers the ground with lye.
Do you think an endless stream of venom and hatred gives honor to Me? You are like a thirsty person brought to a well of living water who then pollutes it with arsenic. All who partake will be poisoned.
You call that behavior a sign of your commitment to Me?
Time and again I have sent representatives to tell you what I want as your offering to Me: to be fair, to be kind, to let those you have oppressed go free — to shatter every prejudice and break down all division.
What greater gift than this: to share your food with the hungry, shelter the homeless poor, care for the vulnerable; to dedicate your heart and not just your money as a holy offering to Me.
Do these things and it will be like the dawn of a new day. Blessings will abound like flowers in springtime, joy will pour forth in a never-ending stream; those who sorrow will be comforted, the weak and weary will be lifted up. God’s own power will encourage and sustain you.
Then when you pray, you’ll hear God’s response; when you call for help the Voice will answer, “Here I am. Here, in your midst.”
If you free your hearts from hatred, cease sneering and sniping and accusing one another of every kind of wickedness; if you focus on nurturing and comforting those in need, then you will bring light into the deepest gloom, like the sun breaking forth after a storm.
God will guide you continually, and nourish you, and strengthen you, and you shall be like a glorious tree in whose branches all of the birds of the air take shelter.
What is broken will be restored; you will build the foundations for generations to come; you shall be called the repairer of the break, the restorer of community.