Isaiah 58 Sermon – Let Justice Roll!

In this sermon Tim walks us through the incredible chapter 58 of Isaiah, where God calls his people to show justice to their fellow man: to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and clothe the naked. These acts of justice mean much more to God then the empty religion the Israelites were engaging in, they are the first step to their healing, receiving God’s righteousness, hearing from God and receiving his protection. The message is pretty clear for us today, are we contributing to oppression in the world or joining God in setting the oppressed free?

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday November 28, 2021.

16/01/22 – Galatians 6:7-10 Sowing and Reaping – by Tim Giovanelli – January Series Manly Life Church Podcast

In this sermon Tim talks about the biblical principles of sowing and reaping. He reminds us that we reap what we sow, and that we should leave behind sowing in the flesh but instead sow in the Spirit, so we can reap the godly rewards of the Spirit! What are you sowing into in 2022? Where is God calling you to shift your priorities and start sowing in the Spirit? For SERMON NOTES click here: https://manlylife.org/2022/01/17/galatians-67-10-sermon-sowing-and-reaping/ For more information about Manly Life check out our website: http://www.manlylife.org You can also find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ManlyLifeChurch Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday January 16, 2022.
  1. 16/01/22 – Galatians 6:7-10 Sowing and Reaping – by Tim Giovanelli – January Series
  2. 09/01/22 – John 7:38-39 What does God want to do for you in 22? – by Peter Brooks – January Series
  3. 19/12/21 – Isaiah 64 Rend the Heavens – by Tim Giovanelli – Isaiah Series
  4. 12/12/21 – Isaiah 61 When Jesus Shows Up – by Victoria Giovanelli – Isaiah Series
  5. 05/12/21 – Isaiah 60 Arise and Shine – by Tim Giovanelli – Isaiah Series

SERMON NOTES:

Read Isaiah 58:1-9

1 “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. 2 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.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast 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 fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting 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? 7 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?
8 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. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

This is one of our annual Next Steps Sunday services.

  • If you’re new, don’t stress, you don’t need to sign your life away on your first visit… I mean you can…
  • But for our regulars, at the end of the service I’ll be asking us to respond in a bunch of different ways in response to that passage
  • And one way will be to get you to fill in your Next Steps form and we will all respond by bringing them down the front… 
  • This is a once a year opportunity for us at Manly Life to work out who’s who in the zoo… 
  • And to help our ministry teams get ready for next year and life groups to form for the start of the year.
  • Suggestion: Don’t do too much, but don’t do nothing… we don’t want burn out… and we don’t want spectators… so find your way of serving and contributing 

Isaiah has posed to me the question, what would it look like for the people of God to be faithful in fulfilling their side of the bargain.

It’s a pretty good bargain as we have seen… I probably shouldn’t call it a bargain. It is a covenant… 

  • But remember chapter 5 of Isaiah… God describes his people as like a vineyard planted on a fertile hillside… the land has been cleared and watched over so that it may thrive
  • And it says God looked for a crop of good grapes but it yielded only bad fruit…
  • It’s a reference to God choosing this people and making a good covenant with them. 
  • Promising to bless them and give them life if they were faithful.
  • Verse 7 of chapter 5 says “he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed, for righteousness but heard cries of distress.” That’s the bad fruit. 
  • So the people of God haven’t  fulfilled their side of the deal. 

Now despite that, we read regularly in Isaiah that God will forgive them, bless them and protect them if they return to him and live just, compassionate lives. 

  • And then in this incredible Book of Isaiah… God’s rescue plan for all of humanity is developed. 
  • In chapters 7-12 we read about God sending a child to bring justice and righteousness on earth.
  • And then in chapters 40-55 we read about God sending a servant to bring us peace…
  • And in both cases, this child, this servant will draw all nations to the Lord.

But the question remains, what does God require of us?

  • God may be faithful in delivering his side of the deal… but what is God looking for from us?
  • Well in todays passage, I think we get a crystal clear picture of what God requires of his people. 
  • Now in other places, of course us Christians are asked to be faithful in how we live our lives, or sharing the gospel or being integrous. 
  • But today, the crystal clear precursor to God moving, healing, and our light bursting forth,  is that we live just and compassionate lives that are concerned for the oppressed. 

Victoria and I watched a very moving film on Netflix the other night called Harriet. 

  • It tells the true story of the run away slave Harriet Tubman and her incredible bravery in helping many other slaves in the 1850’s southern states of America escape on the Underground Railroad… 
  • It starts with a confronting scene in which the white land owners and the slaves are at a church service, the land owners clearly seeing no contradiction between owning slaves and their faith. 
  • Well Harriet Tubman is remarkable African American, a woman of deep Christian faith and courage… and she had a remarkable prophetic gifting.
  • But in one sense I can’t really identify with her… I have never been oppressed… 

But aside from these cruel slave owners, there are all these privileged people in the film who actually do stand up against evil at great cost to their own position. 

  • One is a white land owner named Thomas Garret who was a Quaker who helped 2,500 African Americans escape slavery using his house to hide them on their way to freedom. 
  • For this he was harassed, arrested and convicted leading to his financial ruin. 
  • He stood up in court and I quote him, he said “Judge thou has left me not a dollar, but I wish to say to thee and to all in this courtroom, that if anyone knows a fugitive who wants shelter and a friend, send him to Thomas Garrett and he will befriend him.”

Now I could be desperately wrong… maybe you are desperately oppressed… 

  • But my guess is God’s word to you and me addresses our privilege and the potential part we may play in injustice and greed.
  • This is Jesus saying to us “to whom much is given, much is required.”
  • It is probably more likely you will be asked to take a stand like Thomas Garrett on behalf of the oppressed rather than as the oppressed. 
  • I can’t speak for all of us… but certainly to many if not most of us… we need to approach the scriptures from a self awareness of our power, wealth and privilege. 
  • So the question posed to us is; Will we as God’s people keep our side of the deal and take our stand on the side of the oppressed, the voiceless, the wanderer and the hungry?

So there are three sections to todays passage

  • Firstly, a question is posed (verses 1-3) as to why doesn’t God seem to answer their seeking of him.
  • Secondly God responds (verse 3-7) with a charge against them relating to observing religious practices but being on the wrong side of injustice.
  • Finally (verses 8-9) God promises some amazing things if they respond accordingly to whom they are called to be.
  • OK?
  • Lets have a look at the passage and then we have some suggestions for how we might respond. 

Firstly, God’s people complain.

1 “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. 2 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.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ 

So the complaint of the people of God during Isaiah’s time is a common one…

  • God, we observe religious practices, we seek you out, but you don’t seem to notice us. 
  • God, we want just decisions to go our way, why wont you come near to us and help?
  • And I wonder if you have ever found yourself in a similar situation or observed someone with a similar complaint.
  • “God, I come to church, I pray (sure the other 6 days I just do whatever I want to do), but who wont you help me?”

Well from verse 1, we find that God can actually see you as in a place of rebellion, and we are about to find out why…

  • It’s not that fasting and seeking the Lord are bad things…
  • Heavens no… it is what is happening in the people of God’s lives alongside their religious practices… 

Secondly, God responds…

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast 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 fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting 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? 7 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?

Well it’s an amazing passage that certainly cuts to my heart. God’s response is this…

  • You may be observing all kinds of religious practices…. But you…
  • Exploit your workers
  • You fight amongst yourselves ending in fisty cuffs…
  • When what I really require of you as God’s people is that you;
  • Loose the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free
  • And in your shared humanity, you feed the hungry, shelter the poor wanderer and clothe the naked.  

One of the things that we will see in the rest of Isaiah is this powerful principle that underpins ethics and Christian virtue and practice.

  • Namely it is this: There are no non-persons. 
  • In the Judeo-Christian worldview, everyone is created in the image of God. Everyone has value to God. Everyone is to be treated with dignity and compassion. 
  • To love our neighbour is to know that there are no non-persons… every life matters. Every life counts. 
  • And if we are to reflect the character of God, we are to be on the side of justice, we are to be on the side of human dignity. We are to be on the side of oppressed.

Article this week interviewing the Baptist Pastor Tim Costello who was the head of World Vision Australia. 

  • Recounts showing the film Amazing Grace at Parliament. It tells the story of William Wilberforce and his life long calling to end transatlantic slavery. 
  • The article says; 
  • Afterwards a few Christian Coalition MPs took me aside and said they were so inspired they thought they should start a Parliamentary Clapham Sect (Wilberforce’s group) and invite my brother to join. I said, “Fantastic! You could immediately look at the policy of locking up children in detention.” They were unimpressed and walked off. I realised that most of us prefer our heroes to be long dead.

Now our response may be, I don’t keep any slaves or willingly oppress people. 

  • But the reality is that much of our enjoyed prosperity comes on the backs of those who are oppressed around the world
  • That’s the point of the Baptist Aid Ethical Fashion Guide. 
  • Take that home, familiarize yourself with it, and make choices about how you spend your money and consume.

More so than that, there is an active component to all of this. There is the becoming an advocate and a supporter… 

  • There is putting your dollars where your mouth is. 
  • One of the things I have always believed is that every Christian should have an active interest in helping the poor and advocating for the oppressed. 
  • There is so much you can do. 
  • Just this last Wednesday Luke texted Ryan, Dan and I about catching up for a beer that night… but Ryan couldn’t because he was too busy… too busy feeding the homeless in the city! Haha…
  • We had a group down at the Manly Salvation Army this week feeding the needy in our community.
  • Chris Lake is involved in One Meal here on the Northern Beaches…

And today after the service, Greg and some of his team from Homes of Hope International have a table where you can sponsor a child rescued from sex trafficking in the sub continent. 

  • He texted me this week to share a photo and the news that 4 little ones who had been kidnapped and rescued have come into care in their home in Dhaka. 
  • Victoria and I help a little girl in India through HOHI… Rena.
  • And we always try and tell our kids that they have a sister over in India and a brother in Kenya through something else we support. 
  • That’s our family. So make sure you sponsor a kid today. Just do it. 

Now as we have said consistently in this series in Isaiah, the gospels and the life of Jesus is drenched in the fulfilment of these passages. 

  • If we want to know what this looks like, we look to Jesus.
  • The consistent stepping over religious and cultural norms to care for the weak and include the unincluded. To see the dignity in every life, no matter how broken.
  • To Jesus, there are certainly no non-persons. 

But maybe it is most powerfully picked up by Jesus in Matthew 25 in the famous “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers ands sisters of mine, you did for me.” passages

  • How does God ultimately separate his true followers from the pretenders, the sheep from the goats?
  • Well Jesus says, we feed the hungry, give something to drink to the thirsty, invite the stranger in, clothe the naked and visit the prisoner. 
  • And in doing so, it is like we do it for him. 

So Manly Life, let me encourage you into action today. 3 big things…

  • Be aware of injustice in the world today and even around you, and thus not complicit… 
  • Secondly, I would suggest we raise our voices in every Christian campaign against injustice and on behalf of the poor. 
  • And finally, put your money where your mouth is… and carve out time in your diary to do something.
  • You don’t have to do everything, but you must, you must do something! 

OK, well to finish today, God promises… if we live accordingly… 

8 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. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Well as we will see in the next couple of weeks, there are some amazing promises as to what God will do, when his people are faithful to their side of the covenant. 

  • Now listen carefully, I love church. I love praise and worship. The spiritual disciplines like fasting that draw us close in our relationship to God are so important.
  • But gosh it is interesting to me, that Isaiah 58 states that these are not the things that lead to a revival of God’s presence…
  • Our light breaking forth, healing will quickly appear, righteousness and God’s glory appearing…

No, It is our demonstration of justice and compassion, it is our actions, not our words, it is our money and time and not our thoughts and prayers…

  • And you know this passage sounds a lot to me like what revival looks like. 
  • When our fasting and seeking God is matched by our standing for justice, our compassion towards the poor… 
  • Then God will move in ways like of old. 
  • Wouldn’t that be amazing?
  • And that is a worthy cause to spend your life on… 

Well as we finish, I’d love us all to fill in our Next Steps forms…

  • Beyond supporting the work of HOHI as you leave… this is our call to action.
  • You know the work of the church, the continuing ministry of Jesus, the movement for justice has always been a work of all of the people of God. 
  • It is not for the professionals. 
  • But it is about all of us doing profound but simple acts of service and having courage and dedication to the cause of our King.

Process: invite band, take some time, then I’ll invite you to come and drop your form in the bucket… and we will finish with worship!

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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