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 – Isaiah 58:11
The prophet Isaiah was an artist, a painter. I don’t know if he ever used oils or if he had access to watercolors. I don’t know if any of his masterpieces ever hung in the National Museum of Judah. I don’t know if archaeologists will one day discover an ancient fresco with the name “Isaiah” scribbled in the corner. But I do know he had a way with words. He could splash words on a page with all the color and creativity of an artisan. He could paint a beautiful landscape with the language of his sermons. For example, Isaiah 58:11 is a gorgeous miniature. Have you ever read it before? Have you ever noticed it? It’s worth framing in the museum of your memory. It’s worth putting into a locket and wearing around your neck. It’s one of the most vivid and vibrant pictures of the godly life that we find in the photo album of Scripture.
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.
Can you visualize yourself like that? When you look in the mirror, is that the kind of life you see? If not, Isaiah 58 gives us the roadmap.
1. The Wrong Kind of Fast – Isaiah 58:1-5 talks about the wrong kind of fast, the wrong kind of religious rituals. The people of Isaiah’s day had humbled themselves in fasting, sackcloth, and ashes; but as soon as the fasting ended, the fighting began (see verse 3). They still exploited their workers and offered no help to the oppressed. They practices their rituals, such as fasting, but they didn’t exercise kindness or compassion.
2. The Right Kind of Faith – Isaiah 58:6-7 describes the right kind of faith — one that looses the chains of injustice, sets the oppressed free, that shares food with the hungry and shelter to the stranger and clothing to the impoverished. True faith is humanitarian in nature (see James 1:27).
3. The Best Kind of Friend – Isaiah 58:8-11 paints a lovely oil canvas full of blessings that our Friend will pour into our lives when we practice compassionate faith. Our light will break forth, the Righteous One will go behind us and before us, He will answer when we call. And He gives us the promise of verse 11: The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scored land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
In one of her books, Elizabeth Elliot tells about a woman many years ago who retired from public life into a monastery to live a life of quiet service unto God. She was given a small room or cell built into the monastery, with a window that opened onto a street. Every day passersby would often pause, ask for her prayer, and seek her counseling. She had a very wonderful ministry from dawn to dusk. But in the course of time, the main thoroughfare was changed and the flow of traffic was redirected. Few people passed her window to seek her help. The neighborhood children, however, found her and began to bring her their broken toys. She gladly mended the toys and used the opportunity to encourage and befriend the children. She understood this was her new assignment and it was as sanctified as her former work. We don’t always have to be at the prominent crossroads of life. Sometimes we’re hidden away on a back alley. But as long as we’re developing compassionate faith, the Lord is giving us continual blessings.
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