True Feasting. A Thanksgiving Reflection on Isaiah 58.

True [Feasting]

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we [feasted],’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your [feasting], you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your [feasting] ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot [feast] as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of [feast] I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a [feast],
a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of [feasting] I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
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.

“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,
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.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to [fast] on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Based on Isaiah 58

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

[Author’s Note: The intent of this piece is not to alter the Word of God, as we are warned against in Revelation 22:19, but to provide a jarring deviation to help the modern Western Christian refocus their attention on the severity of the original text. Many in this day are more familiar with abundance (feasting) than with need (fasting) due to a lack of first-hand experience of real mortal hunger. As such, this piece draws the reader’s attention to familiar acts, such as  Thanksgiving, assumed to be Good but which, in our sinful neglect of Goodness, may be missing the mark of God’s actual intentions for both Feasting and Fasting. The reader is now encouraged to read, again, the original text of Isaiah 58 to come to a more cutting, more humbling understanding.]


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