Friday, December 15, 2006

Isaiah and Justice

I read the book of Isaiah today and was again impressed by how justice is emphasized throughout the entire book, starting with chapter 1...
16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
I wonder why we don't more often associate "evil deeds" with oppressing poor people by our greed and self-indulgence when Scripture seems to make that association over and over? Lord be merciful to me a sinner!

Isaiah 58 is my all time favorite...
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 him, 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. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 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. 11 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.
From Isaiah 65:17-25, Ray Bakke outlines seven characteristics of a healthy community from the heart of God:
• Public celebration and happiness (18, 19)
• Public health for children and the aged (20)
• Housing for all (21)
• Food for all (22)
• Meaningful work (22, 23)
• Family support systems (23)
• Absence of violence (25)
This list outlines our marching orders. There is a good chance that the next great movement of God will involve putting the church back into community where it can be the leaven, salt and light God designed the church to be.

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