By David Faust
That’s a strange word picture because truth shouldn’t stumble. Truth brings to mind stability and respectability, not someone staggering in the street like a late-night carouser who’s had too much to drink. Isaiah observed, “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey” (v. 15). What happens when a society rejects biblical authority and decides, as Francis Schaeffer put it, that “the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute”?
Who is to blame for our culture’s bad case of truth decay? Instead of pointing fingers at others, Isaiah 58 compels us to look at ourselves.
Truth stumbles when we separate worship from daily life. In Isaiah’s day, people complained that God wasn’t hearing their prayers. But God wasn’t impressed by their religious practices. He said, “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists” (58:3, 4). God’s truth encompasses all of life, including our relationships with coworkers and neighbors. Religious rituals mean little if we mistreat others—if we worship God on Sunday but don’t translate faith into action the rest of the week.
Truth stumbles when we are self-willed. Isaiah told the people to find joy “not by going your own way and not doing as you please” (v. 13). The essence of sin is doing as we please instead of obeying God. A rebellious, disobedient heart devalues truth by insisting, “I know what God says, but I don’t care. I’m going to do my own thing.” Charles Colson pointed out, “Moral laws are not stifling rules that repress and restrict our true nature; rather, they are directions for becoming the kind of beings God intended when he created us . . . . Moral standards are life-giving, life-enhancing, life-enriching truths.”
Thankfully Isaiah didn’t just identify the negative side of the coin. He also had positive things to say about how to put truth into practice.
Truth stands when we promote justice and meet needs. What kind of “fasting” does God really desire?
• Unfasten the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, and set the oppressed free (v. 6).
• Share food with the hungry, provide the poor wanderer with shelter, and clothe the naked (v. 7).
• Do away with “the pointing finger and malicious talk” (v. 9).
• “Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed” (v. 10).
Truth stands when the Lord leads. “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs . . . . You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (v. 11).
Truth stands when we rebuild what is broken. In a world filled with broken lives, broken relationships, and broken promises, the Lord calls us to “rebuild the ancient ruins” and “raise up the age-old foundations.” He says, “You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings” (v. 12).
Do not despair if God’s truth appears to be stumbling in the street. Like a boxer who takes hard punches but refuses to go down for the count, God’s Word still stands—and so will we if we plant our feet firmly on the promises of God.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for September 27, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Isaiah 54, 55
Isaiah 65, 66