We have learned that all the elements of the Cycle revolve around its heart: unity and its antithesis disunity, in the same manner that we learn at dawn every day whether the sun will shine or storm clouds will block it.
The last nine chapters of Isaiah provide a dramatic, stark contrast between unity with God and disunity from God, in God’s own words through Isaiah. God uses a “point – counterpoint” style in Chapters 58 and 66, directly comparing his concept of unity with God with the abject disunity of his children. How might we compare this with the glaring disunity in the Christian church?
- “…declare to my people their transgression…they seek me daily and delight to know my ways…as if they were a nation that did righteousness…” (58:1b-2b, ESV)
- [Yet they ask] “’Why have we fasted and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves and you take no knowledge of it?’ [God answers] Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers…you quarrel and fight. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard. Is it such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to [simply] humble himself?” (58:3a,4, 5a)
- “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free…? Is it not to share bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house…?” (58:6-7a)
- “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily…” (58:8a)
- “…if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday” (58:10)
Today, we use differences in ritual to define our disunity. And do we fast at all? If so, have you ever seen anything like what God sees as a legitimate fast? Do we care more about ritual that compassion? Is this the kind of repentance Jesus is waiting to see in all believers in perfect unity?
- “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place for my rest?...These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations [of physical property and worthless rituals]” (66:1, 3b)
- “I will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, the did not listen; but what they did was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight” (66:4)
- “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be…But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word…” (66:2)
“For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see my glory” (66:18)
Is Jesus waiting to see an outpouring of perfect unity among all his children to trigger his return?