Day 2 : December 19
Title: Sins of Israel Are Sins Today
Scripture: Isaiah 58:3b-5
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, pp. 1149-1150
The house of Jacob, at the time this warning was given to Isaiah, appeared to be a very zealous people, seeking God daily, and delighting to know His ways; but in reality, they were filled with presumptuous self-confidence. They were not walking in the truth. Goodness, mercy, and love were not practiced. While presenting an appearance of sorrow for their sins, they were cherishing pride and avarice. At the very time when they were showing such outward humiliation, they would exact hard labor from those under them or in their employ. They placed a high estimate on all the good that they had done, but a very low estimate on the services of others. They despised and oppressed the poor. And their fasting only gave them a higher opinion of their own goodness.
There are sins of this same character among us today, and they bring the rebuke of God upon His church. Wherever such sins are found, seasons of fasting and prayer are indeed necessary; but they must be accompanied with sincere repentance and decided reformation. Without such contrition of soul, these seasons only increase the guilt of the wrong-doer. The Lord has specified the fast He has chosen, the one He will accept. It is that which bears fruit to His glory, in repentance, in devotion, in true piety. [Isaiah 58:6, 7 quoted.]
In the fast that God has chosen, mercy, tenderness, and compassion will be exercised. Avarice will be put away, and fraud and oppression will be repented of and renounced. All the authority and influence will be used to help the poor and oppressed. If this were the condition of the world, it would no more be a proverb, “Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter;” “he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey” (The Review and Herald, October 13, 1891)
Heart Challenge and Discussion Questions:
Sin is so grievous and terrible that nothing that a human being could ever do, no amount of good deeds, could ever undo the chasm sin has caused. God, in His infinite mercy, is not asking us to do what we can not do for ourselves. He accepts the simple humble admission that we need Him.
- Do you feel your need for God’s forgiveness? For His healing? You can have it, today! Simply turn to Jesus right now in prayer, and confess your need. Then choose to trust in His all-sufficient grace to empower your walk as you turn from wickedness, and turn to His righteousness.
- What was the problem of the people in Isaiah’s day? Did they fast with a right heart?
- According to Ellen White, what should accompany fasting and prayer? What was the purpose of fasting in Isaiah’s time?
- In the fast that God has chosen, what should be exercised or practiced?
- What does this passage impact your life today? How does it change the way you live? How does it change the way you pray?
- Pray for God to make evident your need of His grace.
- Pray that God will remind you to trust in His ability to empower you to live in victory over self and sin.
- Pray that the attendees will be spiritually prepared to come to the GYC conference and be in-tune with God’s will, be truly converted, re-converted, or challenged to go deeper in their walk with Christ
- Pray that everyone will be surrendered to God’s will and earnestly praying for God’s will to be accomplished.