Reading for December 28th

Isaiah 58-60 (Listen)

True and False Fasting

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;

lift up your voice like a trumpet;

declare to my people their transgression,

to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet they seek me daily

and delight to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that did righteousness

and did not forsake the judgment of their God;

they ask of me righteous judgments;

they delight to draw near to God.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,

and oppress all your workers.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight

and to hit with a wicked fist.

Fasting like yours this day

will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose,

a day for a person to humble himself?

Is it to bow down his head like a reed,

and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast,

and a day acceptable to the Lord?

 

“Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of wickedness,

to undo the straps of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover him,

and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up speedily;

your righteousness shall go before you;

the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you take away the yoke from your midst,

the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

if you pour yourself out for the hungry

and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness

and your gloom be as the noonday.

And the Lord will guide you continually

and satisfy your desire in scorched places

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,

like a spring of water,

whose waters do not fail.

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;

you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,

the restorer of streets to dwell in.

 

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,

from doing your pleasure on my holy day,

and call the Sabbath a delight

and the holy day of the Lord honorable;

if you honor it, not going your own ways,

or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

then you shall take delight in the Lord,

and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;

I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

 

Evil and Oppression

Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,

or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

but your iniquities have made a separation

between you and your God,

and your sins have hidden his face from you

so that he does not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood

and your fingers with iniquity;

your lips have spoken lies;

your tongue mutters wickedness.

No one enters suit justly;

no one goes to law honestly;

they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,

they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.

They hatch adders' eggs;

they weave the spider's web;

he who eats their eggs dies,

and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.

Their webs will not serve as clothing;

men will not cover themselves with what they make.

Their works are works of iniquity,

and deeds of violence are in their hands.

Their feet run to evil,

and they are swift to shed innocent blood;

their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;

desolation and destruction are in their highways.

The way of peace they do not know,

and there is no justice in their paths;

they have made their roads crooked;

no one who treads on them knows peace.

 

Therefore justice is far from us,

and righteousness does not overtake us;

we hope for light, and behold, darkness,

and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

We grope for the wall like the blind;

we grope like those who have no eyes;

we stumble at noon as in the twilight,

among those in full vigor we are like dead men.

We all growl like bears;

we moan and moan like doves;

we hope for justice, but there is none;

for salvation, but it is far from us.

For our transgressions are multiplied before you,

and our sins testify against us;

for our transgressions are with us,

and we know our iniquities:

transgressing, and denying the Lord,

and turning back from following our God,

speaking oppression and revolt,

conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

 

Judgment and Redemption

Justice is turned back,

and righteousness stands far away;

for truth has stumbled in the public squares,

and uprightness cannot enter.

Truth is lacking,

and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

 

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him

that there was no justice.

He saw that there was no man,

and wondered that there was no one to intercede;

then his own arm brought him salvation,

and his righteousness upheld him.

He put on righteousness as a breastplate,

and a helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

According to their deeds, so will he repay,

wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;

to the coastlands he will render repayment.

So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west,

and his glory from the rising of the sun;

for he will come like a rushing stream,

which the wind of the Lord drives.

 

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion,

to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

 

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

The Future Glory of Israel

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

 

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;

they all gather together, they come to you;

your sons shall come from afar,

and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

Then you shall see and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult,

because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,

the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

A multitude of camels shall cover you,

the young camels of Midian and Ephah;

all those from Sheba shall come.

They shall bring gold and frankincense,

and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;

the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;

they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,

and I will beautify my beautiful house.

 

Who are these that fly like a cloud,

and like doves to their windows?

For the coastlands shall hope for me,

the ships of Tarshish first,

to bring your children from afar,

their silver and gold with them,

for the name of the Lord your God,

and for the Holy One of Israel,

because he has made you beautiful.

 

Foreigners shall build up your walls,

and their kings shall minister to you;

for in my wrath I struck you,

but in my favor I have had mercy on you.

Your gates shall be open continually;

day and night they shall not be shut,

that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,

with their kings led in procession.

For the nation and kingdom

that will not serve you shall perish;

those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,

the cypress, the plane, and the pine,

to beautify the place of my sanctuary,

and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

The sons of those who afflicted you

shall come bending low to you,

and all who despised you

shall bow down at your feet;

they shall call you the City of the Lord,

the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

 

Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,

with no one passing through,

I will make you majestic forever,

a joy from age to age.

You shall suck the milk of nations;

you shall nurse at the breast of kings;

and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior

and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

 

Instead of bronze I will bring gold,

and instead of iron I will bring silver;

instead of wood, bronze,

instead of stones, iron.

I will make your overseers peace

and your taskmasters righteousness.

Violence shall no more be heard in your land,

devastation or destruction within your borders;

you shall call your walls Salvation,

and your gates Praise.

 

The sun shall be no more

your light by day,

nor for brightness shall the moon

give you light;

but the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your God will be your glory.

Your sun shall no more go down,

nor your moon withdraw itself;

for the Lord will be your everlasting light,

and your days of mourning shall be ended.

Your people shall all be righteous;

they shall possess the land forever,

the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,

that I might be glorified.

The least one shall become a clan,

and the smallest one a mighty nation;

I am the Lord;

in its time I will hasten it.