- Loose the bonds of wickedness
- To undo the straps of the yoke
- To let the oppressed go free
- 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.
These fasting commands receive much attention during this season of the Church calendar. One can begin to imagine what a difference these behaviors will make when every Christian practices them and justice reigns on the earth.
Isaiah throws down a shocker at the end of verse 7.
“…and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
Who are the people in the bonds of wickedness? Who has no bread and is hungry? Who are the homeless poor? Who is naked?
Those who are “from your own flesh.” Personal justice for my own father and mother, grandparents, sister and brother, wife and children are Isaiah’s primary concern.
The prophet might say to us today:
- Do you think your fasting and prayer pleases God when your own grandmother is in a care facility and you don’t visit with her and provide care?
- How can the Holy God be pleased with your Lenten fast when your own daughter is in the bond of wickedness and you are not doing your utmost to loose the bonds?
- You are all excited about your fasting and prayer but you don’t even take time to contact your prodigal son?
- You haven’t been to your daughter’s piano recitals and you think your devotional practices are impressive?
- That bedroom down the hall sits empty 365 days a year while your own flesh needs a place to sleep at night?
Isaiah reveals that hiding from our own flesh is a prevalent God-displeasing problem. Since Eve and Adam our species have highly developed our hiding skills.
We hide behind more urgent matters. Higher priorities. Things more pleasurable.
The tree of fear with its various branches becomes our cover.
- I’m afraid my parents need far more than I am willing to give.
- My fear is that meeting the needs of my children will drastically change my lifestyle.
- In helping my grandparents deal with their natural processes of aging, I fear my own mortality.
Apathy to those of “your own flesh” invalidates any claim to God pleasing spirituality.