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II Timothy 2:15

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Isaiah 58:2-10

For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday
In these verses, a nation engages in a religious act of fasting, and considers itself righteous. On the surface they seem to seek God, and His presence. They ask God to have oversight of their nation. Given all of this, you would think that God would be pleased with them, but what does God say of them?
  • They have “forsaken His commands”.
  • They “do as they please and exploit their workers”.
  • They “quarrel” and resort to violence.
Because of this, God says that their fast will not be heard. Their outward religious behavior, doesn’t affect their treatment of those who work for them, so God isn’t impressed.
So, if God doesn’t want this, then what kind of fast does God want?
  • To address INJUSTICE.
  • To free those who are oppressed (Oppression- prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.)
  • To feed the hungry.
  • To give shelter to the wanderer (immigrants, refugees, the homeless.)
  • To cloth those who lack clothing.
  • To not “not to turn away from your own flesh and blood” (read the Parable of the Good Samaritan to see who your neighbor is.)
  • Do away with the “pointing finger and malicious talk.” (refute the claim that all poverty, homelessness, and immigration is due to irresponsible behavior, spreading lies, or hateful speech.)
  • To “spend yourself on behalf of the hungry.” (Don’t misrepresent II Thessalonians 3:10 as an excuse to ignore hunger, or promote policies that create hunger.)
God says that if we forsake the former, phony act of religion, and embrace the latter, true act of faith:
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.”
I know there are many who genuinely care about the poor, about opposing injustice, who welcome the immigrant and the homeless, who avoid lies, or malicious talk, but if we want God to guide us, then we have to embrace these values, not only in our personal lives, but also in the policies that our votes enable. While neither party is God’s party, examine the values above, and ask yourself which party more closely values these priorities. Don’t be a Democrat. Don’t be a Republican. Be an informed, and consistent person of faith, who loves God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself. Don’t spread the lie that either party is the “Biblical party”, but please recognize that, at least today, the party most embraced by much of the Church, is often the least Biblical. If you believe your party or candidate promotes one policy you see as biblical, don’t be silent when they promote policies that clearly are not. Be consistent. Swim against the current, and follow Jesus, wherever he takes you.

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