HELPING THE POOR
Date: May 25
Category: Faith Expressed Through Actions
"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house – when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood? Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am. If you take away from your midst yokes of oppression [wherever you find them], the finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and every form of false, harsh, unjust, and wicked speaking. And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday."
This chapter in the book of Isaiah is about fasting. God explains why He doesn't notice Israel's fast. The Bible says that He didn't pay attention to it because the condition of their hearts wasn't right. The people of Israel were assuming that they could just go to the temple, worship God, give their tithes and offerings, and continue in that routine without ever caring for the poor. They believed that they could still live in wickedness, but follow that religious routine and still be accepted by God. But God doesn't accept that. He teaches them how to truly fast. It says in verse 7a, "…to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house – when you see the naked, that you cover him…" That's what a true fast is. It is not only to fast, but also to help the needy.
After we help the needy, it says in verse 8a, "Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing… shall spring forth speedily." So you'll have clear guidance about your life, and healing will come to your body. Not only that, but it also says that you will have peace and prosperity in your life, and God's glory will be your protection [verse 8b]. Many people want to have these things in their lives. Many people want peace and prosperity; they want protection and security. But many of them don't want to bless others. They don't want to supply for the needs of the poor. The source of tremendous unhappiness in life is selfishness. The more selfish you are, the less happy you are. So if you want peace and prosperity in your life, pay attention to those less fortunate and give to the poor.
Not only will God give you peace, prosperity, and His glory as your protection, but He will also answer you when you cry out to Him. It says in verse 9a, "Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am." So God will answer your prayers when you help the poor. Sometimes you may wonder why God hasn't answered your cry. It could be because you haven't answered the cry of the poor. It could be because you haven't removed oppression, finger pointing, or every kind of false, harsh, unjust, and wicked speaking [verse 9b].
Then the Bible says in verse 10, "And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday." So your light will rise in darkness. In other words, not only will you have peace and prosperity, but you'll also have clear direction and guidance for your life. You'll always know what your purpose is and what you need to do in order to fulfill that purpose. So God will hear your cries. He will answer your prayers. He will give you peace and prosperity, but only if you remember to listen to the cry of the poor and do your part in helping them.