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 on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:9-14)
Just whistle! All the Israelites had to do was ask and God would respond. But what exactly did God mean by “asking?” Offering warm words to someone who needs a warm meal won’t help him. Sentiment is not the same as accomplishment. Asking was not just about using the right words. It was about doing the right things. God would know that they had asked him for help—and he would hear them—when they started loving one another and when they started loving God: when they gave aid to the poor, and when they kept the Sabbath.
Giving aid to the poor meant not taking advantage of them. Keeping the Sabbath meant taking God seriously. In both cases, rather than thinking only about themselves, they’d be thinking about those outside of themselves, whether human or God. The focus of their attention, the aim of their efforts, would all be on others, rather than on what they could get for themselves, how they could make things work to their advantage.
God cares about us. He’d like us to care about him and everyone he cares about. Caring about others shows just how much we care about God, because we’re paying attention then to what God cares about most.