Today’s Reading: Isa 58:1–59:21, Luke 22:24–62, Job 13:1–12
Today’s Theme: The call to repent
Today’s theme is about the call for us all to repent, which means to change our minds and turn from sin, to walk in the higher ways of holiness before God. We look at this first through the lens of biblical fasting.
Don’t deceive yourself
Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. Isaiah 58:2 (ESV)
Ask the Lord to keep us as a people, from delighting in His ways without the love and resolution in our hearts, to live in His ways.
If we are walking in self deception, we need to repent before God.
It’s not about you
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Isaiah 58:3 (ESV)
In some circles it is commonly taught that if you want something from God, then you need to fast to get access to it. This is simply not true and it is not biblical. Fasting should not be about us seeking our own pleasure, as God explains in the rest of the chapter.
If our focus is on ourselves, we need to repent.
Fasting God’s way
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 (ESV)
The fast that God has chosen is not the seeking of pleasure, or the other extreme of just humbling yourself, instead it is extremely practical in its aims and goals which are connected to social justice and mercy.
It is also connected with the removal of oppression, this can be both physical and spiritual.
Genuine fasting will result in more than just humility, it will manifest in acts of love and service.
If we engage in any spiritual activity with the wrong motives, we need to repent of this too.
We need to change
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, Isaiah 58:9 (ESV)
Through fasting, we should change, we should stop oppressing others, pointing the finger in criticism / judgement and gossip / speaking wickedness. God calls us again to repent.
We need to repent to restore a healthy relationship with God, so that He will respond when we pray.
Satisfaction for the scorched places
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)
Through this change brought about in us through prayer, fasting and true repentance, God will strengthen us and satisfy our desires, especially in areas of our life where there is great need (scorched places).
God will bring healing where the fire of lust, sin and rebellion has brought pain, loss and damage to our lives.
Delight in God
then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 58:14 (ESV)
All repentance is a turning from delighting in sinful things, to delighting in God.
This is the ultimate purpose of fasting, that we delight no longer in the trivial things of this life, but take delight in the Lord.
Sin separates us from God
but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. Isaiah 59:2 (ESV)
An important truth; sin separates us from God and for God’s people in particular, if we walk in open sin, He will not hear our prayers unless they are genuine prayers of repentance.
Walk in honesty
No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. Isaiah 59:4 (ESV)
Lord, keep us from dishonesty. Our culture is one which is focused on individual rights and desires, which are exalted above honesty and truth. Keep us from being swept up in the tide of dishonesty and selfish gain.
Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart today and to do away with anything that is dishonest, as you walk in repentance.
Walk in peace
The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Isaiah 59:8 (ESV)
We are actually commanded to pursue peace and to walk in peace. If we walk in anxiety, worry and panic, we are actually in sin and need to repent.
Lord, help us to know the way of peace and to walk in it.
God is unstoppable
He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. Isaiah 59:16 (ESV)
Even though there should have been someone to intercede for the city and there was not, God in His power and mercy still moved, to honour His will to bring salvation Himself.
So even if we do not do as God requires, we will not stop His purpose, we only hurt ourselves.
Let us remember to pray for the city we live in today.
Be clothed like God for the battle
He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. Isaiah 59:17 (ESV)
We are constantly in a state of war, in the spirit.
This is God clothing Himself for battle, the first part of this imagery is used in the NT too, for the believers armour.
Put on the full armour through faith and the word today, to fight the battles ahead, in the spirit and prayer.
Pass on the word of God
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.” Isaiah 59:21 (ESV)
We are called to actively pass our faith on to our children.
We can claim this promise of God as yes and Amen for ourselves, as we read and meditate on God’s word, speaking of it and passing it on to the next generation.
Be a servant
But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. Luke 22:26 (ESV)
We must repent of having the world’s ideals, in terms of greatness.
Jesus teaches us the truth; that in the kingdom of God, we should be servants of God and of one another. Jesus who was certainly the greatest, served the disciples at the last supper, giving them a clear picture of what greatness in God’s kingdom means.
Lord, help us to joyfully serve You and Your people.
Your faith will not fail
but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32 (ESV)
Like Peter, Jesus has prayed for us that our faith will not fail under trial. If we do stumble, we need to turn again or repent as Jesus said, and seek to strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Repent and live to fight another day.
Laying our rights down
He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36 (ESV)
Jesus would have had the right to take up arms against those who came to capture Him, so bearing the arms was not wrong and the use of them would not have been wrong, but forgoing His right to use them, showed an example to His disciples which they would follow in their own lives, as ministers of the Gospel after His resurrection.
This is the opposite to the teaching of Islam, which encourages the use of the sword and violence.
Chose to lay down your rights for God’s purposes today.
God’s will be done
saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42 (ESV)
This is the core of all prayer and repentance.
This should be a crucial element in our prayers, we should make our request in respect and submit to the ultimate will of God, surrendering our will to His.
This was not just a routine for Jesus, this was genuine anguish of soul, which is why He prayed this very genuine and heartfelt prayer.
He is standing right there
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” Luke 22:61 (ESV)
This means there was not a great distance between them, this was an awful blow for Jesus but He had prepared His heart for it in advance and He had prepared Peter, and I’m sure in His looking at Peter, it was one of love.
How often have we been guilty of denying Jesus when He is standing right there?
What about my case?
But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God. Job 13:3 (ESV)
This is wounded pride and arrogance speaking, the sad thing is that in today’s world, many people think they also have a right to argue with or argue their side of the story with God.
This is flawed and fallen thinking.
Thankfully we are covered by our advocate, Jesus.
Don’t be a hypocrite
Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one deceives a man? Job 13:9 (ESV)
Job is right to warn his friends of the hypocrisy of supposing to speak for God, with great legalistic maxims, without the foresight that they too would fail under such scrutiny.
Those in exposure ministries should take heed here, as the NT says, when judgement or correction is given in hypocrisy, the hypocrite is in danger of the same judgement.
Legalism and pointing the finger at others, can often be a deceitful mechanism to hide or minimise our own shortcomings. We can foolishly compare ourselves against ourselves or look at external circumstances and deduce with human reasoning and false discernment, that someone is “blessed” or “cursed”.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Luke 22