Read for This Week’s Study: Ps. 115:1-8, Deut. 10:17-22, Ps. 101:1, Isa. 1:10-17, Isa. 58:1-14, Mark 12:38-40.
Memory Text: “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NKJV).
Even a quick reading of the Old Testament prophets alerts us to their concerns about the mistreatment of the poor and oppressed. The prophets and the God for whom they spoke were outraged about what they saw being done in all the surrounding nations (see, for example, Amos 1 and 2). But they also had a particular sense of anger and grief at the acts of iniquity done by God’s people themselves, those who had been the recipients of so many divine blessings. Given their history, as well as their God-given laws, these people should have known better. Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case, and prophets had a lot to say about this sad state of events.
It is interesting to discover, too, that many of the best-known statements concerning justice and injustice from the Old Testament prophets are actually given in the context of instructions about worship. As we will see, true worship is not just something that happens during a religious ritual. True worship is also about living a life that shares God’s concerns for the well-being of others and that seeks to lift up those who have been downtrodden and forgotten.