Does it ever seem like God is being unfair?
Like you pray and pray, but God doesn’t seem to pay attention?
This is exactly what was happening in ancient Israel, in the days of Isaiah.
Continue reading to hear an insightful explanation by Pastor Raymond Ortland Jr, based on Isaiah chapter 58:
“The people of God have been fasting. They’ve even afflicted themselves. (That’s the force of ‘humbled ourselves.’) Isn’t that taking sin seriously? But God is still standing off as a distance, still withholding Himself, and they wonder why.
But the question ‘Why?’ is not an openhearted request for instruction. It’s a way of dumping their frustration on God. They thought God was being unfair. They were both pious toward God and angry toward God, and it was
their sincerity that explains their anger. They sincerely believed they could obligate God and pressure God. And when their fasting and praying and self-deprivation didn’t leverage cooperation out of God, they resented Him….What poisoned their souls was their religion.
We think piecemeal. We don’t connect the dots between fasting and seeking God and so forth—good disciplines—and our living Monday through Friday. But God doesn’t think piecemeal. He knows we can’t compensate for neglect in one area of life by observance in another, especially when fasting is less demanding than labor-intensive involvement with needy people. God doesn’t want us to live prayerless lives, running on our own steam. We need to be quiet before Him, and fasting is a valid way to do that. But neither does God want us to prove our devotion to Him by making ourselves hungry and miserable while disregarding our obligation to make others full and happy. If our Christianity, however sincere, doesn’t move us to make our world a better place, it’s not only unhelpful to others, it’s unacceptable to the Lord. The Bible says, ‘Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’(James 1:27)”
-Raymond Ortland Jr.
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