Isaiah and Jeff McIlroy
“You will raise your arms in prayer to Me, but I will refuse to look at you. Even if you say many prayers, I will not listen to you. [Why?] It’s because your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean. Stop doing evil things which I see you doing. Stop doing wrong! Learn to do good! Be fair to other people. Punish those who hurt others. Help the orphans. Stand up for the rights of widows.” — Isaiah 1:15-17 IEB
Isaiah lived, listened to God, and faithfully spoke God's words to Judah eight centuries before Jesus Christ walked the earth.
Isaiah means, "Yahweh saves." Yahweh is the name for God used 6,000 times in the Old Testament.
The first word Isaiah gets from God is "hear." Why must Isaiah hear? Because Yahweh is speaking. His first job was listening to God.
The first thing Isaiah hears is Yahweh's displeasure. Yahweh said since they were committing adultery, killing babies to honor false gods, committing acts of injustice, violent and warring against one another, that when they worshipped, they had blood on their hands, and he would not listen.
What is the remedy? What are the people supposed to do? The first thing is to do what Isaiah is doing and listen to what Yahweh has to say, even when it's not good news, when it convicts us of national, church, family, or individual sin.
Are you prepared for listening to things God says that are unpleasant and judging toward you, your country, your church, your family, yourself? Many of us bristle at criticism. And we pick and choose the churches, the scriptures, the sermons we listen to in order only to hear what we want to hear.
If God didn't think hearing chastening, judgment, even condemnation was a good thing, He wouldn't do it. One of the first things we can learn during Lent is that judgment is not ruled out because we don't like it. God is the judge, and Judah is on trial.
It may be that we need to re-tune our ears to pay attention like Isaiah to what God has to say as we embark on the trailhead of this lenten journey.
Ask God, What adjustments do I need to be make in my life to listen to God? What needs to be turned off?
Ask God, What do I need to eat and not eat? Maybe you have the desire to be healthy, but fasting impacts the body and the soul.
Who is in need around you? Ask God to show you people who are in need and how you can lovingly, with dignity preserved for that person, give to that person in need without self-aggrandizement, humble bragging for yourself to others about it.
Thoughts From Jeff McIlroy
IN 2016, Jeff McIlroy interacted with me about Isaiah. Where I have comments from Jeff, I’ll include them in this series.
A wake up call to review our lives and make change, is a difficult, but good thing. I tend to relax and avoid self-examination, avoiding the work and pain of repentance. Lent for me this season will be that of 'fasting from omission', in other words, it's high time for me to take action in several areas of involvement and responsibility in my life. It would be much easier to fast from sweets or TV. Logging in to this series, and posting to the comment section is a small, but direct, response to my 'fast from slothfulness'.—Jeff McIlroy
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.