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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day After Day They Seek Me

This post is part of an ongoing collaboration of multicultural social media ministries. This series examines God's unchanging nature, and how it relates to multicultural ministry. Below is BTSF's contribution, and others can be found here: Proskuneo MinistriesRedemption Boulevard.

Does God change? Is the God of Abraham and Isaac, the same one as ours today? Is our God the same God in whose name the crusades were carried out, or who was claimed by both sides of the US Civil War? Was it the same God’s scripture that was used to keep slaves in line, and to segregate churches?

Or did God change? Did the rules of God's game adapt along with the values of our culture? How can it be that we eat shellfish now, when it was forbidden 4000 years ago? Or why do we believe slavery is wrong now, when it seemed a part of normal life back then? How is it that we have a shifting morality if our God is so unchanging?

The answer is, of course, that we change. And our understanding of God changes. If we served a God that were within our timeline, subject to our natural laws, God would be not much greater than ourselves. Yet by God's grace, we are allowed to know God, though we are fickle and wavering in our knowing. What we mistake for God's will today, we may better understand as the whispers of Satan tomorrow.

And so how does this knowledge affect how we attend to our daily ministry of reconciliation? If our understanding of what is right lies in our laws or in society’s norms, how can we be assured that tomorrow we will still see our ministry in the same light? Will we look back and be pleased with our work, or will be ashamed of what we perpetuated?

Reflecting on our understanding of ‘fair’ and ‘good,’ will we chuckle at ourselves for being so backward, so old fashioned? Who will we understand as the lepers of our time? Who the Pharisees? In 50 years, what new insight on scripture will give fresh perspective on the work we do today and make us question our motives?

Surely, the stanchly segregated churches of the 60s believed they were every bit as righteous as we feel we are today. And slaveholders honestly believed they were conforming to the Word as much as our modern bible study groups do.

Let us never suppose that our understanding is complete, but rejoice in a God that is large enough to encompass our growth in Him. We take comfort in the knowledge that although our understanding may change, God is steadfast and everlasting. His will is not a moving target, but one that we mature towards by daily discipline and devotion.

Thus, we can never take lightly the needs of others, or dismiss claims of injustice with declarations of what we understand is ‘fair.’ But rather, we look to scripture for a better vision of God’s mission on earth:

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. 
Raise your voice like a trumpet
Declare to my people their rebellion 
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 
For day after day they seek me out; 
they seem eager to know my ways
as if they were a nation that does what is right 
and has not forsaken the commands of its God. 
They ask me for just decisions 
and seem eager for God to come near them. 
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, 
‘and you have not seen it? 
Why have we humbled ourselves, 
and you have not noticed?’ 

“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. 
You cannot fast as you do today 
and expect your voice to be heard on high. 
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, 
only a day for people to humble themselves
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed 
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? 
Is that what you call a fast, 
a day acceptable to the LORD? 

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
and break every yoke? 
Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, 
and your healing will quickly appear; 
then your righteousness will go before you, 
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; 
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. 

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, 
with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry 
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, 
then your light will rise in the darkness, 
and your night will become like the noonday. 
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. 
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins 
and will raise up the age-old foundations; 
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, 
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath 
and from doing as you please on my holy day, 
if you call the Sabbath a delight 
and the LORD’s holy day honorable, 
and if you honor it by not going your own way 
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 
then you will find your joy in the LORD, 
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land 
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” 
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken 


  1. love the Isaiah 58 passage and how it speaks to God's heart for the oppressed, and His concern for how we treat others. Thanks for these quotable, food-for-thought lines:

    Let us never suppose that our understanding is complete, but rejoice in a
    God that is large enough to encompass our growth in Him.

    Yet by His grace, we are allowed to know him, though we are fickle and
    wavering in our knowing. What we mistake for His will today, we may
    better understand as the whispers of Satan tomorrow.

  2. Thanks Josh! Really enjoyed your post as well!


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