“Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. . . . “Is this not the fast that I have chosen . . . ” (Isaiah 58:1,6).
Being sorry and being repentant are two completely different things. All of us have witnessed a child who is sorry for the way things have turned out. As a parent, your reaction to this is completely different than if the child comes to you with a repentant heart – sorry for the outcome and also for their part in creating the outcome.
You might remember when the Israelites went to conquer the land that was promised to them. In Numbers 14:39, we read that the Israelites were “overcome with grief” because of the word of judgment Moses just brought to them, declaring they would not enter the promised land of Canaan.
They were sorry because of the way things turned out – they were not repentant for their stubborn hearts of unbelief that caused the outcome. They wanted to receive their portion of the land regardless of their lack of faith. This lack of repentant, believing hearts caused them to go in the opposite direction the Lord desired. They were clearly instructed in 14:25 to retreat in order for them to get their hearts right. Instead, they mustered up their strength and with the wrong heart pursued God’s promises. The result was chaotic: they were routed and did not enter the land that God had promised His people.
Repentance positions us to receive God’s promises! Being sorry for how things have turned out and then implementing a fix with our own strength will have a disastrous outcome. Let us deeply consider our “transgressions” and “sins” and come together to this time of repentance and fasting with contrite hearts, as we consider what the Lord has for us from these meditations on Isaiah 58. Just as with Israel’s blindness and unbelief in Joshua’s day, so had the people to whom Isaiah was prophesying lost their way. Yes, they were fasting and praying, but with the wrong motives and therefore, for the wrong reasons. We can learn much from them in our own day.
In your time seeking God today:
- As you proceed through these devotionals focused on fasting and repenting, ask the Lord how you how you can go beyond being sorry and to being repentant.
- Search your heart for any ways you have attempted to provide solutions to life’s problems without consulting the Lord.
- Commit to the Lord that you will pursue His solutions to problems, even when it takes a giant leap of faith. Remember, our faith pleases God (see Hebrews 11:6).
- If you are fasting, dig deeply into Isaiah 58 to let God’s Spirit work with you on your motivations.
- Numbers 14:30-45
- Isaiah 58:1-6
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