WFW: Pride Part 2
Today, Jay and I both center our WFWs on Isaiah 58 -- we both attend the same church and have been equally blessed by the teachings, prompting us to study the topic further... So here is my rather LONG WFW (with a link to Jay's at the end)...
Isaiah 58 1 ¶ Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. 3 ¶ Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
You might ask, "What does this passage have to do with being proud? In Acts 2:36-41 we read, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
See, those to whom the Lord was speaking in Isaiah had been fasting for the wrong reasons and with the wrong intentions; but when they asked the Lord, "Why do we do all these things and You don't notice; You don't hear?" then the Lord answers them. Why? Because they were finally seeking Him, asking Him questions -- "Why is this happening?" Notice that the Lord answers by pointing out their faults; that is how the Lord always answers those who are truly seeking Him; Proverbs says, "Reproofs are the way of life." So those in Acts heard the reproof of Peter and said, "What must we do?" and they did it! It hurt them -- "they were pricked in their hearts" - but they did not let this stop them from finding out what to do. Likewise, those in Isaiah, after trying to do things their own way for a while, finally decided that something wasn't right, so they began to seek God; they were seeking Him with their whole heart to find out what the problem was: "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer 29:12-13). Interestingly, we know that when we do things our own way, we are saying that we have a better way than God (pride); and when we seek God with our whole hearts, we are humbling ourselves -- we are not prideful. So we seek that the people in Isaiah were finally humbling themselves to hear the Words of God. And when the Lord spoke to them, He said basically, "Here is what you should be doing," and if they would do those things, He said, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am...."
Interestingly, the rest of that Scripture talks about exactly how they were supposed to repent, some of which is as follows:"...If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity..." The "yoke" is translated in Hebrew as "band," among other things; remember that in verse 6 the Lord says, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" So we can see that one of the reasons that the Lord wanted them to fast was to remove the wickedness (and throughout this passage He shows them how to do that). We can also see that pointing the finger at someone else is not exceptable, nor is speaking vanity. I think we all know what pointing the finger is, but what is vanity? It is nothingness, of course, but there is a very interesting Scripture which brings out its meaning more clearly: Psalms 12:2-5 states, "They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us? For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him." So vanity is being proud! Also, remember what we said about lying and pride; this is what they were doing here -- "We can say whatever we want... No one will tell us what to do!" Psalm 40:4 states, "Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies."
Other passages in the Bible illustrate this pridefulness quite well: Acts 7:52-58 "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it." When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him...
These Jews hated the reproof of the Lord so much that they killed Stephen - they stopped their ears so that could not hear and nashed their teeth in anger! They knew that what Stephen spoke was the truth, but their attitude was, "How dare he say these things to me!" If they had listened long enough they probably would have heard what they must do to repent, but they didn't even let Stephen get that far! (And if someone wants to argue that they didn't know what to do because of this, well, that is not true, because the Bible states numerous times that they heard but they did not listen... Just look at the following passages...)
Acts 28:27 "For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
Luke 20: 9-19 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.
(I heard an interesting point made about this Scripture - The Gospels record this parable in a few different ways so that it is possible to see that there were two groups of people answering Jesus' question: the first group said, "He will destroy those vinedressers..." and the second group -- the chief priests and scribes -- answered, "God forbid!" It just shows what level of pride they had!)
Luke 18:10-14 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Speaking of humbling ourselves, we learned last week that one way to do that is through the Word of God. But David offers a second solution which goes hand-in-hand with that: Psalm 51:16-17 "For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise."
Remember that in Isaiah, the people were fasting, but instead of doing it for God, they were doing it for themeselves -- "Let's get something done today!" instead of spending the time with God with a pure heart: "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD..." (Isaiah 58:13-14) In other words, the Lord is saying that if we will do things His way, not our own, we will be delighting in the Lord -- and that is being humble, because our flesh wants to do "other" things; but when we put aside our flesh and live by the Spirit, doing the things that the Lord commands, we are delighting ourselves in the Lord. [For more on delighting in the Lord, read Jay's WFW.]
1 John 3:22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Visit Yeah right... for more Word For Wednesdays!