Text: Isaiah 58:1-12; Mathew 5:13-20
Speaker: Joel Miller
In Isaiah chapter 58, the prophet is in full prophet mode, dialed up to 10. It begins as if the Lord is giving Isaiah a bit of a pep talk, a locker room huddle of sorts before the prophet steps out and does his prophetic thing. “Shout out loud, do not hold back! Lift your voice life a shofar! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.”
And this is what Isaiah does.
As the prophets before and after him did, Isaiah directs his outcry not against those outside the community – enemy armies, foreigners, immigrants, but on the moral and spiritual condition of those inside the community – his own people.
Walter Brueggemann has taught that the role of the prophet is to criticize the status quo, and then energize toward a new, life affirming future. Criticize and energize. We can imagine those as the final words of every pep talk every prophet ever got from the Lord.
Isaiah focuses his shout-like-a-shofar message on the practice of fasting. How the people were abusing this religious practice – abusing each other while engaging in this practice. How...