Hypocrites at worship
Shout out Israel’s sins1
Yell at the top of your lungs.
Scream this message like you’re blowing a ram’s horn.
Tell my people about their sins.
Spell it out for them, those descendants of Jacob.
They act eager to learn my laws.
They think they’re a good nation,
A group of people devoted to doing what’s right
And to staying on good terms with me.
Q&A with God3
“Why bother fasting if you don’t notice us, Lord?
Why skip meals to pray if you’re not paying attention?”
I see you fasting—while going about your usual business.
You multitask: you fast while exploiting your workers.
And you’ve got a mean punch.
Fasting while punching is not kosher.
And prayers like that go nowhere.
5 Do you think a fast means starving yourself?
Or bowing low as a bush,
While dressed in a feed sack
And throwing ashes on your head?
You call that a legitimate fast?
6 Here’s the fast I want to see.
- Get rid of injustice.
- Stop exploiting your people.
- Free hostages you’re holding in your grip.
- Welcome the homeless into your homes.
- Give your clothes to those who need it.
- Help people in your own family.
Reward for proper fasting8
If you do that, a new day will dawn.
That will fix your nation. And it won’t take long.
The LORD will lead you and defend your goodness.
And the glorious LORD will cover your back.
When you cry out, he’ll say, “I’m here.”
Stop exploiting your people.
Stop belittling them with lies.
10 Show compassion to the hungry.
Feed them all they can eat.
Do that, and your little light will shine through the darkness.
You’ll turn the bleakest days bright as noon.
11 The LORD will guide you throughout your life.
When you hit dry patches, you’ll find water.
You’ll find the strength to carry you through.
You’ll stay fit as a garden by a natural spring.
And you’ll always have just what you need.
12 Builders among you will rebuild your ruins.
They’ll restore foundations laid long ago.
You’ll become famous as restoration experts,
Builders of walls and houses and roads.
Show some respect for the Sabbath13
Stop treating the Sabbath like just another day.
Don’t do business on the day I set aside as holy.
Make it a happy day devoted to the LORD.
Show it some respect by not doing business.
He’ll take you to the mountaintops.
And he’ll give you all the great things he promised your people.
What you just heard came from the mouth of the LORD.
Share your food with hungry folks.
The message seems set sometime after Jews returned from exile in Babylon (today’s Iraq), after they started rebuilding Jerusalem in about 538 BC. The people were disappointed in the work because it became clear that this new Jerusalem was shaping up to be a humbler city with a downsized temple.
The writer tears into the people for their hypocrisy. They follow the letter of the rules and perform the right rituals. But they miss the point of the rules, so they don’t reach the goal—the behavior God wants to see in them. Instead, they go in the opposite direction. They mouth the rules and dance the rituals, but they live like the devil and a son of a gun.
Moses, in Deuteronomy 28, summed up the promises of God when Israel obeys the rule, along with the warnings for breaking the rules.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.