November 1, 2015
READ: Isaiah 58:1-12
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 rumours! (v.9).
David Willis hadn’t been in the bookshop long when he walked downstairs and found the lights were turned off and the doors were locked. He was trapped inside the shop. Being in the age of social media, he cried out for help on Twitter: “Hi. I’ve been locked inside your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out.” He was rescued soon after his tweet!
As helpful as Twitter can be, we have Someone more powerful than the social media giant. If you feel trapped and are crying for help, Isaiah has some advice for you—and it may not be what you expect.
The prophet said that God had charged His people with practising their religious devotion irresponsibly (Isaiah 58:1-2). They were going through the motions of religious practices and masking their oppression of the poor with empty and self-serving rituals (vv.3-5). This didn’t win them any divine favour. In fact, God said, “I will not look” and “I will not listen” (1:15).
The Lord told the people through Isaiah that if they had an inner righteousness, evidenced by repentance and outward acts of social righteousness and mercy (58:6-7), His blessings would fall upon them. Among other things, they could call on the Lord as a genuine act of worship, and He would answer their prayers and provide them with His immediate presence (vv.8-9).
Do we desire to hear God say “Here I am” when we cry for help? Then perhaps we should seek to be God’s answer to the prayers of the poor and marginalised in our community. Let’s get close to those who need us and extend the love and compassion of our faithful God. He hears each cry for help and can use us to bring the hope and encouragement they need.
365-day-plan: Acts 16:1-15
Read Isaiah 58:6-9 again and list what God is looking for in terms of social righteousness within the community.
What behaviours or attitudes towards others could be preventing you from experiencing answered prayer? What do you need to repent of? Who do you know who is crying for God’s help?