Isaiah 58:  Walk the Walk

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,  Isaiah 58:9

 

 

Empty Ritual

 

The worship of Israel has not been an expression of piety but part of her rebellion.  The rituals and fastings of Mosaic religion are meaningless as long as the people exploit workers and forge chains of injustice.  True religion can never be separated from compassion and social justice.

Chapter Summary 58-59

As the book nears its close the prophet calls on his listeners to grasp the reality of sin.  This provides the backdrop for a revelation of God’s purposes in judgment and salvation.  He begins by describing a superficial religiousness (58:1-3a) which disguises the hypocrisy of a people whose personal lives and society are corrupt.  Only if Israel experiences a complete spiritual reformation and does away with the yoke of oppression” will God answer His people’s prayers and sustain them.  Only if God’s people honor Him will they discover the joy and blessing to be found in the Lord.  Sin alienates, and Israel’s “iniquities have separated you from your God” (59:1-2).  Isaiah follows this announcement with a dread catalog of Israel’s sins and the grim announcement that God has “put on righteousness as His breastplate.”  As a warrior He advances to repay according to what men’s actions are due.  Yet even now there is hope for those who “repent of their sins.”  God will establish His covenant with them, and with their children.

Key verse.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

Personal application.  The only way to find healing is to be honest with yourself and god about your spiritual state.

Key concepts.  Hypocrisy, Injustice, Poor and oppressed, Prayer conditions, Covenant

Fasting 58:3-7  OT fasts usually lasted from sunrise to sunset.  Fasts were religious in character and undertaken to: 1. Express grief, 2. Show one’s seriousness when appealing to God, 3. Indicate repentance, and 4. Honor the seriousness of the Day of Atonement.  Later generations added other commemorative days to the religious calendar and remembered them with fasting.

In Christ’s time, the zealous Pharisee fasted each Monday and Thursday.  Jesus condemned the practice of dirtying the face to show others one was fasting, but did not condemn fasting.  He fasted 40 days just before beginning His public ministry.  Though there are NT examples of fasting, the practice is not commanded.

Isaiah’s point is that fasting as an expression of piety is of far less concern to God than a righteous lifestyle.  Spirituality is shown by the loving quality of our personal relationships and by our commitment to social justice and to helping the poor and oppressed, not by fasting.

⇒ When we walk the walk, God will answer when we call and say “Here I am,” when we cry.  Walking the walk is a challenge but it comes with a great incentive.

 

 

8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

 


The Right Observance of Fasts

58 1  “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. 2  Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.

3  ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. 4  Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high. 5  Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord? 6  “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? 7  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?

8  Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9  Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10  If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11  The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 12  Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

The Observance of the Sabbath

13  “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14  Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”