Isaiah 58:10 God tells His people to give themselves to the hungry and
what does this mean?
Does it simply mean giving sleeping bags to the homeless and making sure that they don't starve from
malnourishment, or did God have something more in mind for His people?
This is a
question that we need to take seriously, for most would agree that to
"give oneself" suggests more than just handouts that cost us little
time or effort.
In this regard, we are told that on the day of judgment, Jesus will say
to the people on his right that, "I was a
stranger and you took Me in ..." Matt.
25:31-46. This seems to suggest a bit more than hamburgers and
sleeping bags for the homeless poor on cold winter nights.
In Isaiah 58 and
59 we are told that God is more interested in His people doing
something to help the poor and alleviate their
suffering than in accumulating possessions, attending church and learning to expound Greek and Hebrew words.
In fact, He tells His people quite plainly that He wants them to share
their bread with the hungry and "take the homeless poor into
the house" -- and that this is more important to Him than fasting and
Even God's promise
with regard to tithing in Malachi 3:10 tells us that the "food" that
people gave was for God's house: which should include food for the poor.
And a few verses later, in Malachi 3:18 we see this as well: i.e. that God is
interested in His people getting involved in service to Him and His people.
else would God need food for?
illustrations shed more light
on the failure of the church to provide for the
needs of their own members and of the disadvantaged poor.
ago, I met a woman who had received a miraculous healing from the Lord -- and
the prayers of at least two of His servants -- only three days after her first
time in church. I later learned
from her that not once in nine years of attending that church, had she been
asked to share her testimony of her miraculous healing from Huntington's
disease: a supposedly incurable illness.
I also discovered that (in a church of about 3,000 people) there was nobody whom she knew of who could
give her rides to the bank, or job interviews, or to pick up her kids from
school when they needed a ride. So because I had become her friend, I filled in the gap and was
blessed for doing so; but at the same time, I became more aware that this
church was not meeting the needs of its own people.
This can be said of many other American churches as well --
where people who have extra cars, and/or extra time to drive them, or extra
bedrooms in their houses, and lots of space for couches, spiritual gifts with which they
could be serving the body of Christ, are not being asked to use them: nor are
they opening up their houses for fellowship and breaking of bread, except for
"church" approved, weekly, (specifically timed) meetings.
Could this be
because pastors are NOT encouraging them to do so, nor leading the way?
came to me by a homeless man who receives free food via daily meals provided
by Christians. This is a good
thing; however, what this man said to me opened my
eyes as to how little we think about "giving
ourselves" to the needs of the hungry, oppressed, and homeless.
"It sure would be
nice if somebody would bring us a cup of coffee in the morning."
Ezekiel 34 tells us that
God is not happy with shepherds who "feed themselves"
while overlooking the flock. In
fact, at some point He will command them to STOP feeding
(His) sheep, and in verses 3-6 we find out why: i.e. because the shepherds were not sharing their food with the
poor nor seeking
the oppressed, but using the fat (rich) sheep to become fat (or rich)
When Jesus comes back we are told that He
will "gather the lame and the outcasts ... and make them a strong
nation." Mic. 4:6-7
In this regard, the prophet Isaiah was
told to "Cry loudly, and NOT to hold back," (but to) raise his voice
like a trumpet, and confront God's people regarding the
hypocrisy of pretending to love God and to seek His face, yet to (at the same
time) abuse and misuse the poor with hard work, heavy yokes, while believing that they are doing
"Yet they seek
Me day by day, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that has done
righteousness, and has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They as Me for just decisions, and delight in the nearness of God ...
In other words, they talk
about God, attend church (or synagogue) and Bible study and (perhaps) even
learn to expound Greek and Hebrew and attend other
"church" related gatherings, and give money to support
church work and the pastor's salary, while complaining
that God doesn't seem very close to them, nor (appear to) listen to their
prayers, nor (to notice) their devotion to
church (attendance) and church-work, nor even when they fast and pray:
and they say so to the rabbi / shepherd / priest.
So God lets them know that He heard their complaints and answers them through
His spokesman, Isaiah, starting in verse 3 with the following:
"Behold, on the
day of your fast you find your desire, and drive hard all your workers (i.e.
with heavy work-loads and few breaks).
"Behold you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked
fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
"Is it a fast like this that I choose, a day for a man to humble
himself? Is it for bowing one's
head ... and spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
... (Do you think that this is what I want from you, or what pleases
"Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of
wickedness, and undo the bands of the yoke (of slavery), And to let that
oppressed go free, And break every yoke?
"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless
poor into the house; (And) when you see the naked, to cover him (with clean
clothes and or blankets) ... And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
"Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will
speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; (And) The
glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
"Then you will call, that the LORD will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
If you remove the yoke (i.e. of slavery, oppression, and treating the
poor as if they were less important to God than you, or as if they were
animals) from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking evil,
if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like
"And the LORD will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in
scorched places, and give strength to your bones;
"And you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of
water whose waters do not fail.
"And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will
raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the
breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
And ... "If ... you (cease doing) your own (thing) on (God's holy
sabbath) day (i.e. your day off from work, and instead go about doing God's
work on that day and speaking on His behalf) ...
"Then you will take delight in the LORD, And I will make you ride on
the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob
your father, For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
same thought (of religious hypocrisy) continues throughout the next
chapter (59) as well.
Something Wrong with Church?