One of my favourite chapters in the Old Testament is Isaiah 58; this is also the chapter I find most challenging. It starts by critiquing outward surface spirituality. The people seem to be doing all the right things. They are seeking God daily. They are eager to understand the ways of God. They want an encounter with God. They fast. It all sounds pretty good, and if we were to only look at their religious practices, I think we might be quite impressed with them.

In the famous Morecambe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn, Morecambe utters the brilliant line, I’m playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.” So it is with those Isaiah challenges: they are doing a lot of the right things but not necessarily with the right motive. 

Their lives don’t back up their expressions of piety. They are proud, manipulative and abusive. They give the impression that they are close to God, but their lives are not being lived in a Godly manner that would please Him. There is no missional expression of their faith. They are not moved by the plight of others.

God makes clear that His passion is for justice. Their fast should be to bring freedom. It should be to care for the weak, the vulnerable, the marginalised, the broken. The poor and the hungry should be lifted up.

This is the good news of the kingdom of God. God reaches out to the lowly and sets them free – lifts them up and restores them. The language of God is a language of love, hope, restoration and justice. He calls His people to share His passion.

The amazing love of God reveals itself in another way. He is not finished with the people yet. There is restoration for them. The chapter has some amazing promises for those who align themselves with the passions of God. If you demonstrate and live for the justice of God, then…

your light will rise in the darkness”,

The Lord will guide you always”,

you will be called a repairer of broken walls”,

you will find joy in the Lord and will ride in triumph”.

The point is that when we are waiting upon God, seeking His face, we must allow ourselves to be transformed so that our lives are in line with the things God cares about. Justice is one of the things God clearly cares about.

As we strive to reflect our Father’s heart for justice, perhaps we could take some time to examine our hearts, and ask ourselves, am I demonstrating my faith by the things I do, does my spirituality have a missional expression, are my passions the same as God’s?

Prayer

Almighty Lord, thank you for your love.

Thank you for your patience.

Thank you for your faithfulness.

Thank you for your salvation.

Help me to care for the things you are passionate about.

Use me to reach the most vulnerable in our society.

Help me to demonstrate my faith with acts of kindness.

Grant me a soft heart, an open hand and a positive word.

Save me from a life of seeking you with all the wrong motives.

Teach me your ways, o God, that I may live in your promise.

In Jesus’ name

Amen

The point is that when we are waiting upon God, seeking His face, we must allow ourselves to be transformed so that our lives are in line with the things God cares about