In this chapter, we see Isaiah addressing the hypocrisy of the people. As the ESV Study Bible says, “Isaiah is commanded to confront the hypocrisy of God’s people with boldness and to clarify the true path to God’s blessing.” God wants the people to understand that they are living in hypocrisy. Look at the complaint of Israel and the response of 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. (3-4)
God is saying that even though the people are outwardly performing some of the disciplines, they’re not being produced from a pure heart that loves God.
This is such a crucial warning for us. How often have you sought God in prayer or Bible reading without pure motives? Maybe you were doing these things just to say you did it or because you thought that by doing it God might love you more. Another way to check your motives is how you respond to how God answers prayer. When God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you want, do you respond in anger or trust? When God does answer prayer, does it cause you to love God more, or the response more?
The goal for all of us is to allow our godly actions flow from a pure heart that loves and worships God. Pray for God to make you aware of when you fall short of this, and ask God to help you change.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate