From that awesome chapter, Isaiah 58:

     “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

     with the pointing finger and malicious talk,”

Have you noticed how often you find oppressive behavior accompanied by blaming, finger pointing, and malicious talk? Writing during WWII of German hatred for Jews, C S Lewis said,”The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them; afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become – and so on in a vicious circle for ever.”[1]

This may well explain why there is so much anger and hatred in our country – toward, for example

  • people making minimum wage or less and doing without benefits, and others on welfare
  • blacks and other residents of inner cities
  • children who attend those (many) public schools that are scandalously underfunded
  • people who want to protect the environment
  • Iraqis and other Muslims
  • (you can fill in other examples)

     “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

     and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,”

Notice. It does not say ‘spend your money’, but ‘spend yourselves’ – a high level of personal involvement and concern.

     “then your light will rise in the darkness,

     and your night will become like the noonday.

     The LORD will guide you always;

     he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

     and will strengthen your frame.

     You will be like a well-watered garden,

     like a spring whose waters never fail.”

These are beautiful, hopeful pictures.

If this is revelation, then God is committing to the support of those who support God’s interest in the welfare of the maligned, the hated, the hungry, and the oppressed. If this is true, we could expect real strength for our nation to come from our commitment to these activities – honoring God’s priorities, as against trying to be strong by bullying, dominating, jailing, and killing our real and imagined enemies.

     “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

     and will raise up the age-old foundations;

     you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

     Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” (Isaiah 58:9-12)

I love this hope! I see two major areas where we need serious restoration.

1. We are not honoring Biblical priorities of integrity and of concern for all of us and all of our neighbors.

2. We are not honoring the vision of the American founders who produced the Declaration, the Constitution, and the great speeches of, for example, Lincoln and FDR. We have wonderful traditions of Biblical theology and of American Constitutional liberalism.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be part of the generation that gets to begin seriously rebuilding those old foundations?!

[1] C S Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco, 1952, 2001, p 131

See also Jesus’ Homecoming Sermon