Isaiah 58 – cry aloud, declare to my people their transgression
(Isaiah 58:1-12 ESV) with applications in purple by Barbara Roberts
(1) Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Declare to my people, the church, their transgression in not having dealt correctly with the issue of domestic abuse.
(2) 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 act like they seek me daily, but they have their heads in the sand over the sin of abuse
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
prayer meeting after prayer meeting, sermon after sermon, bible study after bible study,
(3) ‘Why have we fasted, [they say to God] and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
God gives the church His answer:
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
By your blindness or obstinacy about abuse, you oppress all those spouses who toil in their own homes trying to make their marriages work, struggling to keep up with the housework, juggle all the day to day problems, and nurture the kids in the fear of the Lord despite the selfishness of the abuser.
(4) Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Behold, some of your leaders are abusers themselves: pastors, elders, deacons. And even those of you who aren’t abusers, your religious works are enabling abusers. Due to your messed up teaching, abusers can quarrel, fight, and assault their spouses and with impunity, because you don’t believe victims and don’t discipline abusers. You ignore how easily the notions of headship and submission can be distorted and turn toxic. And you nail victims into coffins by proclaiming that abuse isn’t grounds for divorce.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
(5) Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the LORD?
No matter how many fasts you call, how many prayers you pray for marriage and family values, how many movies like Fireproof or Courageous you watch, how many outreaches or seminars you hold, how many books your write or read, how many collection plates you fill, how many rules you have about right gender relations, it will not make much difference to the plight of the church and the culture unless you address the issue of domestic and sexual abuse.
(6) 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?
The church needs to fast like this: renounce the legalism and false doctrine which is strapping down the oppressed; teach right doctrine so that abusers will be exposed, rebuked and soundly disciplined, and the oppressed will be set free.
(7) Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house [or a shelter – where they will be protected and cared for]
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Opposing the abuser and taking sides with the victim is costly; but that’s what God requires of us.
(8) Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
(9) Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If the church took this stuff seriously, rather than giving it lip service, the revival we have been praying for could come about. Imagine that!
If you take away the yoke from your midst [by teaching about the psychology and methods of sin as Ps Crippen did]
the pointing of the finger [no more stigma for victims of abuse!], and speaking wickedness [no more saying ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace],
(10) if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted [believe the victims and respond to their desire for justice],
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
(11) 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.
(12) And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
Yes. If it heeded this call, the church would see revival.