Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Conditional Promises

Isaiah 58:8-12
Promises:
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Conditions:
If you do away with
        the yoke of oppression,
        with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and
if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

Promises:
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.

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.


Comment

God has promises in the Bible, but too often people are presumptuous about claiming such promises and don't consider the conditions under which God will grant them. So let us first focus on the conditions.This is a continuation of the previous section on fasting but the center section summarizes the general conditions. The conditions speak of things which are to be done and things which are to be done away with.

Conditions

Do away with:
1. The yoke of oppression - This was mentioned in the previous meditation as either permanently or periodically releasing the downtroddened from their burdens.
2. The pointing finger and malicious talk - This refers to oppressive legalism. One is reminded of the Pharisees who reckoned with contempt those who were physically afflicted, such as the blind man of John 9 of whom they said, "You were steeped in sin at birth" And so also when they rebuked the lame man who carried his mat after he was healed. What was to be done away with was an elitist attitude of unjustified hatred and prejudice which for example led to Jesus being crucified. That is, to do away with oppressive expressions.
Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
Satisfy the needs of the oppressed

Now it seems to me that the first step in satisfying these conditions is to identify who are the oppressed and hungry. Beware of directing your efforts and resources towards those who are not really oppressed or hungry, for by doing so you take away resources that could have been directed to such people. "He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich— both come to poverty."Pr 22:16 So also you take away potential relief for the distressed if you yourself become an unncessary burden to others. For example I would personally be uncomfortable being a full-time Christian minister supported by others. For first of all I would not be generating income to help the oppressed and secondly I would be taking income from others which could have been directed to the oppressed. It is more blessed to give than it is to receive. Now there are plenty of oppressed people in the world. But if God measures by degree then I think we should be particularly sensitive to those in the Third World. And allow me to suggest some Charities.

Furthermore besides meeting the physical needs of the oppressed there are also those who are spiritually oppressed and spiritually hungry. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."Mt 5:6  However once again just as the affluent are not generally physically oppressed, neither are they generally spiritually hungry. Rather there has been a predominance of spiritual apathy as I see it among such people. Thus again I would say that if you're trying to meet these conditions then the place to direct your efforts and resources is primarily Third World missions.

Promises

If meeting the needs of the oppressed isn't satisfying enough God also has promises to boot.

1. In terms of reputation you will be viewed as a righeous person
2. God will bring healing of sorts. Such healing might be a healing of relationships, or a physical/material healing, or a spiritual healing overcoming some sin you've been enslaved to.
3. The Lord will listen to you and answer your prayers. You get special attention.

1Pe 3:12  "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
4. God will guide you.
5. Your needs will be satisfied so that you may continue to be generous
2Cor  9:10,11  Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
6. God will use you to build His Kingdom

If these are the kind of things you would like, then remember that they are conditioned upon the generosity you show to the oppressed.


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