– They zealously proclaimed what God was going to do, and it didn’t happen.
– They moved in faith, with all confidence that God would confirm their word with signs following, and it didn’t happen.
– They prophesied of what was shortly going to take place, and it didn’t happen.
– They believed their fervent prayers were effectual and would avail much, and it didn’t happen.
– They prayed the prayer of faith and laid their hands upon the sick so they might recover, and it didn’t happen.
– They caused others to hope for an imminent invasion of the kingdom of heaven, and it didn’t happen.
The people of Isaiah’s day finally got real and could only lament: “We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.” (Isaiah 26:18)
We have sown much and reaped little. We have claimed to have the backing of heaven, but we remain very far from the witness of apostolic days. We mistake “numbers” for true conversions and disciples. We think people falling down are people truly being touched by God. We tell people to claim and confess their healing when Jesus cured them in the very same hour. We mistake noise and hoopla and excitement for real revival and a move of the Holy Spirit.
At least those in Isaiah’s day were willing to acknowledge that things were NOT happening as they thought they would and should. But we are willing to go on deceiving ourselves. They were confounded enough at seeing so little results when they thought they were operating “by the Book,” that they complained to the Lord about it.
Starting in Isaiah 58, God clues His people in as to why it appears His hand is shortened and His ear is too clogged to hear. It would do us well to read and meditate long and hard upon this passage. Know that it has as much application for the church today as it had for Isaiah’s generation. This is not a matter of refusing to believe that God can work supernaturally. This is a matter of understanding why God is not working to the extent we believe He should. This is God handing His people a mirror. Maybe if we responded to the sound of such a trumpet, and really laid this message to heart, we would finally get on the same page as God and at long last see His genuine working in the earth.
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
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; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 58:1 -59:2)