HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Book of Isaiah
The Hope of the Contrite
The prophet, in this chapter, has his commission and charge renewed to reprove the sinners in Zion, mainly the hypocrites, to show them their transgressions. I think it is intended for rebuke and warning to all hypocrites (then and now), and is not to be confined to those of any one age. Some refer it primarily to those at that time when Isaiah prophesied (Isa.29:13; 33:14). Others refer it to the captives in Babylon, the wicked among them, to whom the prophet had declared there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked (Isa.57:21).
Against the terror of the Word, they tried to shelter themselves with external routines, especially their fasting, which they kept up in Babylon, and for some time after their return to their own land. Isaiah here shows them that their outward devotions would NOT entitle them to peace with God as long as their lifestyles and speech were not as they should be. Others think this is specially meant to be against the hypocrisy of the Jews, especially the Pharisees before and in our Saviour's time. They boasted of their fastings (Jer.14:12; Mat.6:16-18; Lk.18:12), but Christ revealed to them their many transgressions (Mat.23), much the same with those they are here charged with.
Through the multitude of verses describing the Suffering Servant, the Israelites (and we as well), should begin to realize the cost of salvation. It is easy enough to arrange for Israel’s passage back to Judah as the first section emphasized, using Cyrus the Persian emperor as His servant. But, this Suffering Servant, brings God’s people back through sufferings which climax with His death on the cross, and in this way He has become their Saviour (and ours). He died for their sins (and ours). What should have been OUR sufferings, became His sufferings. Do you honestly realize just what Jesus did for us? For you and for me? And because He faithfully did and does His work, He prospers and leads all those who are made righteous (justified) by Him (Rom.3:24; 5:1, 9).
Ch.40-48: Isaiah 48:22 There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. (KJV)
Ch.49-57: Isaiah 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. (KJV)
Ch.58-66: Isaiah 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (KJV)
Chapter 58, exposes religious sins and praises righteousness.
Chapter 59, convinces us of His desire to help us, even though it cost Him dearly.
Chapter 60, God gives the people a tremendous vision of the future.
Chapter 61, God calls the Servant to insure the peoples’ righteousness.
Chapter 62, God explains the participation of the people in realizing the vision.
Chapter 63:1-6, God uses the Servant to bring salvation to His people.
Chapter 63:7-64, helps us understand our sin and His grace.
Chapter 65, discovering the riches of His grace.
Chapter 66, confirming and expanding their (and our) hope.
God ever so patiently taught the Jews that His plan was to incorporate people all around the world. The many was to include people from all around the world . . . Jews AND Gentiles! The every one in chapter 55:1 is all-encompassing. Chapter 56 precisely assures these strangers (Gentiles) not to feel inferior or unimportant. Consider the following:
#1. Man looks for political freedom; God provides spiritual freedom in the Kingdom of God.
#2. Man thinks only of his own race. God helps people from every tongue and race.
How great and immeasurable is God’s grace! Chapter 57 brings us back to the operating table. God spreads out our wickedness right before our eyes, and IF you sincerely want salvation of your soul, and long for hope of everlasting life, you must be willing to hear what the LORD has to say to you. Are you listening???
Matthew 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (KJV)
Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (KJV) . . . This is very important, because Jesus says it again!
Luke 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (KJV)
Chapter 58-66 give God’s gracious Promises of hope. Isaiah’s powerful message of hope shines out so clearly from the reminders to the wicked. Almighty God demands contrite hearts, renewed lives and personal faith in Him from those who sincerely want salvation. If anyone is easily turned away from the LORD by His continual reminders to put away sin, then that person most likely will never be able to continue to read on to the hope that is so beautifully revealed to us in the later Passages. In the last section of Isaiah (chapters 58-66), reform and repentance is mentioned far less, while the idea of hope in God's salvation seems to pound in our heart.
All three of these last sections end with the same idea . . . there shall be no peace, to the wicked. The Messiah brings peace, but any and all who deny and reject Him will NEVER know peace. Turning TO idols is simply turning AWAY from the Messiah. As we have seen, this section has majored in a condemnation and rebuke of idolatry. Idolatry is a road that leads to Babylon. Dear one, the LORD, in the Book of Isaiah, is traveling the lonely road to Calvary. BEWARE!!! ALL idolatry and witchcraft are an abomination to the LORD: (Deut.27:15; 1 Ki.11:7; 23:13; Isa.44:19; Jer.32:35; Eze.18:12; Dan.12:11; Mal.2:11; Rev.21:27).
ISAIAH 58 parallels with HEBREWS. Isaiah 58 tells us of the contrast between shadow and substance. Hebrews tells us of the types and shadows contrasted with reality (Christ Himself). Isaiah 58:13-14 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: 14 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. Heb. 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. Heb. 4:9-10 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
From the wicked and anti-Christian party the prophet Isaiah, is bid to turn to the professors of the true religion, and openly, boldly and sharply, reprove them for their sins, especially their hypocrisy and formality in worship. These wicked ones were angry, complaining that the LORD did not take notice of their religious services, particularly their fasting, which is put for the whole of their sins. The reason was that they did not fast in a proper manner. It was joined with much cruelty, strife and wickedness, and was done only for external appearances. They fasted for all wrong reasons. Isaiah directs them how to keep a fast, and are shown what a true fast is, and what works and services are acceptable to God. If they do what is right, a very fruitful and flourishing state of the soul is promised, and a rebuilding of waste places, delight in the LORD, and great honor and dignity; if it be that the Sabbath of the LORD, and/or public worship, is attended to in a proper way.
Theme: Exposing Israel's wicked ways; explanation from God for rejecting religious acts; God's concern for their welfare.
This chapter brings us to the final division of the prophecy of Isaiah . . . the glory of Almighty God that comes through the Suffering Servant. We move on in this section to the glory of the Eternal Kingdom. Inward wicked ways and outward religious rites, rituals and customs halt and stifle the grace and glory of God and damage the Gospel of Christ in a terrible way. Outwardly religious men who are church members, yet blaspheme and curse as much or more than pagans, and are dishonest in business and grossly immoral in their social lives. The explanation is given here as to why the glory was withheld. The people were arrogant, contemptuous and sarcastic about their relationship to God. They observed customs and procedures and dared to question the actions of God toward them. They literally sat in judgment of God and the way He did things, just like so many people do today. No matter how much a person outwardly observes religion, IF they do not really love God, they will keep on keeping on in their wicked ways.
This same spirit was exhibited after the Babylonian captivity, which reveals that the captivity did NOT cure them. Malachi 3:13-14 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? 14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? (KJV) . . . They criticized God for not blessing them, yet they went to the His Holy Temple and they made sacrifices to Him. It was brazen arrogance and boldness to question God, then and NOW! This spirit of natural man with his outward show of religion, does NOT impress God at all, in fact, it does just the opposite . . . it stirs His wrath! The hearts of these people are far from God, and their way is utterly wicked. The outward show of being righteous and godly nauseates the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.(KJV) . . . It is sad that this is the attitude of the LORD Jesus to a vast lot of religion in our day.
Exposing Israel's Wicked Ways (58:1-3)
I think the closing verse of Chapter 57, should be here, to make things more clear.
Isaiah 57:21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. (KJV)
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. (KJV)
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet . . . if we really want to understand Isaiah’s meaning, we should read theses verses as if there had been no separation by chapters. The Prophet has testified that the people would be punished in such a way as to leave some hope of peace, and next he threatens that the wicked, who by slothful pride try to escape from God, shall have continual war. He now confirms that doctrine, and informs them that God has given him this command, to cry aloud, meaning to use the full strength of his voice. Why is this?
And shew my people their transgression . . . it is to make known to the people their sins. He does not speak just of the magnitude and/or strength of the voice, but means by it enthusiasm and harshness of language which hypocrites especially need, as if God were throwing thunderbolts against them from Heaven; because their vices pleased them, and if they were not severely reproved and dragged into to the light of Truth, they would be violently thrown down. When Isaiah gives hope of approaching peace, he refers to the remnant, the little flock (Lk.12:32); and when he threatens war, his aim is to terrify the multitude, who were estranged from God and hated Him and His warning threats for this was the state of the people, as we have seen before (Isa.1:19-21). There were few of righteous, pure or sound morality that remained (Mat.7:13-14).
And to the house of Jacob their iniquity. With good reason, Isaiah calls them the house of Jacob, for the greater part of the people were corrupted. It is not without amusing and bitter mockery that the LORD gives the titles of his people and children of Jacob to those who had degenerated from their stock and had disgracefully revolted from the faith of the fathers.
Four commands to Isaiah by the LORD:
#1. Cry aloud.
#2. Spare not.
#3. Lift up your voice like a trumpet.
#4. Show My people their sins.
*****The prophet is commanded to cry aloud a message that is always hated; that being pointing out the transgressions and sins of a people who think they are very religious. This will bring down bitter displeasure and burning criticism on a sinner’s head. Only a very brave man will do what Isaiah did! The basic flaw of liberalism (tolerance) in the pulpit is its aim to please the natural man without telling him the real Truth about his fatal disease . . . he is a sinner and unless he changes his ways, he is on a non-stop journey on that broad road to Hell. God always tells it exactly as it is, in Isaiah’s time and in today’s world, through a few faithful pastors and teachers. The LORD wants His servants to tell mankind that they are suffering from the fatal disease of sin that shall end in the eternal death eternal separation from Almighty God.
2 Thes.1:8-10 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (KJV)
Isaiah 58:2 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. (KJV)
They seek me daily . . . they cover their wickedness with a profession of religion, pretending to ask counsel of the LORD, and to desire and seek His favor and blessing. We should see the order that the Prophet has followed. After threating war against wicked men and hypocrites, he now severely rebukes them, and removing the pretenses and disguises under which they veiled themselves. This is the way in which hypocrites should be treated, and dragged out of their lurking places; for other than this, TRUE doctrine could not produce any good effect upon them. We today, need to be of an upright heart (Ps.7:10; 11:2; 3:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11; 111:1), if we wish to profit by the doctrine of the Word of God, and to be accepted by Him. Hypocrites will not make it! Pro. 11:20 They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight. (KJV)
And delight to know my ways . . . the people seemed to delight in it; for men are often said in Scripture to be or do that which they seem or profess to be or do (Mat.13:12); that which he hath, is explained in (Lk.8:18), as that which he seemeth to have. There are many who take some pleasure in the knowing of God's will and Word, but they do NOT adjust their lives to it. Do you want to know God’s ways?
As a nation that did righteousness . . . they acted as if they were a righteous and godly people.
And forsook not the ordinance of their God . . . they acted as if they were not guilty of any apostasy from God, nor neglect of or disobedience to God's precepts. BEWARE!!! Apostasy is a slippery slope to Hell! http://judgmentcoming.org/j_c_apostasy.htm
They ask of me the ordinances of justice . . . they acted as if they really wanted and were determined to observe the ordinances.
They take delight in approaching to God . . . they seemed to be delighted in approaching to God; in coming to His Temple to hear His Word, and to offer sacrifices to Him. Isaiah states that the most important exercises of believers, are sometimes brazenly and shamelessly imitated by the wicked. One of the main points of TRUE religion is to inquire (ask, find out, request) as to what the will of God is, that being done by prayer, so that we may adjust or regulate our life by the rule which He has laid down for us, and to depend on His help when we need it. But in this respect, the children of God (1 Jn.3:10), are insincerely copied by hypocrites, so that they seem to practice all that relates to the True worship of God, and sometimes, even exceeding the very best of men. God knows the hypocrites. No one can fool Him.
*****There is a hint of God's biting, sarcastic ridicule in this statement. These people were attending the Temple worship on a regular basis. They were going through the rites, rituals and customs precisely as His TRUE children were. They precisely followed the forms of worship. They actually seemed to enjoy going to the Temple; but their lives revealed no likeness to those of believers. What was true in the day of Isaiah, is also true today. We must be honest and sincere in our love and worship of the LORD . . . or we are hypocrites! http://hisservants.org/a_1_hypocrisy_runs_wild.htm
Isaiah 58:3 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. (KJV)
Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? . . . they complain of being mistreated by God, and that even though they prayed, fasted and kept the rest of God's ordinances, all which are here put compiled under the title of fasting, all their labor was lost, and God neither regarded nor delivered them.
Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge . . . afflicted our soul by fasting. They clearly considered their many fastings as laying the foundation of a claim on the favor of God, and that they were willing to complain when that claim was not acknowledged. Fasting, like other religious duties, is proper in its place, but in that, as in all other services of religion, there is danger of thinking that we bring God under obligations, and that we are laying the foundation of a claim to His favor.
Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours . . . the prophet proceeds to state the reasons why their fastings were not as successful as they thought they would be. The first reason is, that even while they were fasting, they were going hog-wild to satisfy their depraved appetites and lusts. This also was clearly the case with the Jews in the time of the Saviour. They were time after time regarded as by Him as an evil and adulterous generation (Mat.12:39; also see Mat.Ch.23), and yet no generation perhaps was ever more punctual and strict in the external duties of fasting and other religious ceremonies.
Ye find pleasure and exact all your labors . . . the anger which these hypocrites conceived against God for not accepting the services which they themselves had a mighty opinion of. When they fasted, they said thou seest not, so they went in the way of Cain (Gen.4:5-9), who was angry at God, and resented it as a great insult that his offering was not accepted. These people tried to pick a fight with God for His not being pleased with their services, as if He had not treated them fairly or rightly. We can easily see that their heart was not moved to repent.
This complaint may be viewed as referring both to the Word and the Hand of God. In both ways God judges hypocrites; for He rebukes by His Word, and punishes with His Hand for their stubborn hatred. See Special Comments at the end of this Chapter for more about fasting.
*****These people were bitterly complaining, but their hearts were far from God. They plainly had made fasting an important part of their religion. God never gave them fast days; He gave them feast days (Num.15:3; 2 Chron.8:13; Lam.2:6; Eze.46:9). Fasting is just the outward expression of the soul, but they had made it a form which comforted to their ego and pride. They boasted of the fact that they fasted (Lk.18:11-15). Fasting done in a right way, was to be a solemn, private matter between the soul and God, NOT a public demonstration. Our LORD condemned them for abusing the fast. Matthew 6:16-18 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (KJV)
TRUE religion is a very personal relationship with Christ. TRUE religion is one on One! There is nothing more secret and private than our relationship with Jesus! Just as we do not broadcast our intimate relationship with our spouse, our religion should also be very private! Yes, we tell people about Him, and witness for Him, but we never reveal our personal, private and intimate moments with Him.
Explanation from God for Rejecting Religious Acts (58:4-7)
In this next section God explains His reason for rejecting their outward display of religion.
Isaiah 58:4 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. (KJV)
Behold, ye fast for strife and debate . . . this verse seems like it should be connected with the end of the preceding verse, for it continues on with the same subject. This is a third reason why God did not regard and accept their fasting. They were divided into parties and divisions, and probably made their fastings an occasion of increased contention and strife. On their fast days they argue and quarrel; and their hunger brought about anger. This was NOT what fasting was supposed to do! Fasting should be a special way to plead for the mercy of God and to show compassion and mercy to mankind.
And to smite with the fist of wickedness . . . they would deal harshly and harmfully with their servants or debtors. These servants, could have sold themselves to them in the year of redemption (Ex.21:2; Lev.25:39-40, 50). They handled them with a hard hand, fist of wickedness; which is elsewhere expressed by grinding the face (Isa.3:15); and in Jesus’ parable, by taking by the throat (Mat.18:28); but also their servants out of their mere will and pleasure, and in contempt of them, treated them in a contemptuous manner, as Christ was handled in contempt and scorn (Mat.26:67-68; Lk.22:63-65; Jn.18:22).
Ye shall not fast as ye do this day . . . theway they fasted was NOT acceptable to God, instead, just the opposite, it was highly offensive in His sight. They did not fast to God (Zec.7:5, 11-12), but only to bear fruit to themselves, like that empty vine (Hos.10:1) . . . and so when they fast, I will not hear their cry (Jer.14:12).
To make your voice to be heard on high . . . when their fast was conducted in strife and contention, their fast was not recognized and their voice with prayers would not ascend to Heaven and would not be heard by God. Their fastings were accompanied with the loud and gruff voice of argument and strife, and because of that, was not accepted by God.
*****The reason why the LORD hated their fasts and other practices, is because they did not proceed from pure love of the heart. What the feeling of their heart is, is revealed by its fruits.
Being pure in heart (Mat.5:8; 1 Pet.1:22), is shown by our living honorably and abstaining from all deceit, dishonesty, injustice and pretense. These are the marks of pure affection, and if these things are absent, the will LORD reject and hate all external worship . . . because God can SEE our heart! He know exactly what we and our TRUE feelings are. We can NEVER fool God. It is absolutely ridiculous and stupid to think we can try fool Him. The LORD shall rebuke all hypocrites, as they shake their wicked fists at Him.
Isaiah 58:5 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? (KJV)
Is it such a fast as I have chosen? . . . Isaiah confirms the previous statement, and states that fasting is neither desired nor approved by God in itself, but only if it is directed to its true end. Isaiah did not want it to be altogether abolished, he just wanted them to stop the improper use of it. It seemed that they believed the worship of God included fasting, and they did not want to neglect it, thinking that what they did was right. Hypocrites always put forward external rites and ritual ceremonies, as if that is going to satisfy God. NO outward ceremonies, rites and rituals ever please God! Although men are well pleased with themselves, and swell up with startling arrogance, and indulge in brazen boasting, the LORD rejects and hates them, because He claims for Himself the right to choose. To choose a thing is the same as to take pleasure in it.
And hanging his head like a bulrush . . . the prophet sets down those external gestures and postures in general which they joined with their hypocritical fasts, as he had mentioned before.
The LORD is not pleased if a man passes a day in hunger, and then walks around with a sad and miserable face. Isaiah uses right symbols; because the bulrush, although it is straight, is easily bent. So too, hypocrites bend themselves, and bow down the head, as if under the influence of oppressive strength, or display some empty form of humility. Isaiah, intended to condemn superstitious attitudes, in which hypocrites think that there is holiness.
And spread sackcloth and ashes under him . . . these things also were added to fasting, especially when they made solemn professions of repentance; for they clothed themselves with sackcloth and threw ashes on their head (Joel 1:13). The fact is, such an exercise was holy and approved by God; and we see that the prophets, while they exhort the people to repentance, cry aloud for sackcloth and ashes (Isa.58:5; Jer.6:26; Dan.9:3; Jonah 3:6). Fasting is not here condemned on its own account, and Isaiah does not condemn those outward ceremonies, but reprimands hypocrites for separating them from reality.
Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? . . . is sackcloth and ashes suitable to our time? Gospel services do NOT require, nor need them, but instead what is needed is a more inward afflicting of the soul, with godly sorrow and deep remorse for sin. A day acceptable to the LORD . . . it is clear that to solemn prayer, when a holy assembly was held, there was added fasting; for fasting is an addition, a supplement to prayer; for we see that it was added to prayer by Christ Jesus Himself (Mat.17:21). Fasting is not required in the Gospel doctrines, but its right end does bring countless blessings.
*****God did not command their fasting, and their acts of worship were completely outward and did not reveal the condition of the heart. This is basically the condition of today’s modern church. There are some good churches, but as a whole, the organized church has only a form of godliness. 2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (KJV)
Isaiah 58:6 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? (KJV)
Is not this the fast which I have chosen? . . .or approve, as before (vs.5). Should not such a fast to be accompanied with such things as these? Isaiah is now about to show what accompanies a true fast, with reference to the thing in hand, that is, to exercise works of charity, consisting partly in acts of self-denial, and in doing good to those in distress. Isaiah shows what the real duties of goodness are, and what it is that God mainly recommends to us; that is, to relieve those who are wretched and pressed with a heavy burden. Isaiah seems to abolish fasting universally, when, in place of it, he states the works which are most highly acceptable to God. Fasting IS approved when it is goes along with the love which we owe to our fellowman; and Isaiah states that we shall be tried by this principle. According to his works: (Pro.24:12; Jer.25:14; Mat.16:27; 2 Cor.11:15; 2 Tim.4:14; Rev.2:23; 18:6; 20:12-13).
To loose the bands of wickedness . . .some explain this to mean sinful thoughts, by which the hearts of men are entangled. But Isaiah seems to have another object in view, specifically, that hypocrites are exceedingly cruel in distressing the poor, and lay heavy burdens upon them. The bands of wickedness, are the cruel obligations of extortion and oppression.
To undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free . . . heavy burdens, bundles; a symbol possibly pointing at the many bundles of writings, such as bills, bonds, mortgages, and acknowledgments, which the oppressors had lying by them.
And that ye break every yoke . . . break every yoke that is grievous, a symbol to free them from all kinds of aggravation, and whatever it is that held them under bondage. This may relate to unjust and unlawful obligations extorted by force or fear.
*****God essentially says, if you really want to fast, I’ll tell you what to do. Instead of fasting and going around with a sad face; stop your sin. Stop gossiping; stop the things that reveal the wickedness in your hearts. Show your faith in Me by your lifestyle. Be honest in all you do. Always be truthful in everything that you say. Instead of sackcloth and ashes, a clean heart is what I want to see.
Isaiah 58:7 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? (KJV)
Is it not to break thy bread to the hungry?. . . the fast that pleases the LORD is shown in verse 6. Having shown the evil they are to abstain from in order to have an acceptable fast, and to stop cruelty, here he speaks of the duty that is required, that is to say mercy, as a clear sign of repentance (Dan.4:27; Lk.19:8). For there are only two parts of justice, one is to do no man wrong, the other is to do good to all . . . which two parts should always complement each other, and should not be parted. Isaiah goes on to describe the duties of love of our neighbor, which he had described briefly in the preceding verse. He said before that we must abstain from injustice, he now shows that we should exercise kindness towards the poor, and those who need our help. Deal means to divide, to distribute. The idea is that we are to share among the poor that which will be needful for their support, as a father does to his children. This is everywhere ordered in the Bible, and was especially regarded among the Orientals as an indispensable duty of religion.
Read: Job 31:16-22.
And that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house . . . Hospitality to all, and especially to the friendless and the stranger, was one of the cardinal virtues in the Oriental code of morals.
When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him . . . this duty is also quite clear, and is every where instructed in the Bible (Mat.25:38). The naked, either that have no clothes, or that are so shamefully clothed that they have hardly enough to cover themselves. Here naked is to be taken as hunger and thirst is, not absolutely starved, so neither quite stripped; but either in a ragged and indecent condition, in others' sight, or so thinly and insufficiently clothed as not to defend him from the injury of weather. That thou cover him, that you give him suitable clothing, or money that he may obtain it (Jam.2:15-16). Most of these circumstances we find were the cases of the apostles (1 Cor.4:11).
And that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh . . . meaning from your own relatives or relations who depend on you (Gen.29:13-14). To hide oneself from them may mean either, to be ashamed of them because of their poverty or humble rank in life; or to withhold from them the fair supply of their needs. TRUE religion demands us to treat all our relatives, whatever their rank, with kindness and affection, and instructs us to provide for the needs of those poor relatives who in the wisdom of God are made dependent on us. Hide not thyself like the Levite and the priest, but instead be like the Samaritan (Lk.10:31-35).
*****They turned their backs on the poor and needy and even refused to show love and compassion to their own flesh and blood. Their heart had no love for God, and it certainly had no love or mercy on mankind. When your heart is filled with love for God, it automatically turns to people who need help. Isaiah has a tremendous message for us today! God told His people through Isaiah that He did not want their so-called, pretended worship. They were just going through an outward form that would not reach the LORD! God in reality said to them . . . you stop all this me-me stuff, and reach out to help your fellow man, or you are in trouble with Me. Isaiah is not popular! Do you see why? You will not find liberalism (tolerance) in this part of the Bible. People want to turn to the Sermon on the Mount and pick out a few verses, such as: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (Mat.5:7). That is great, and it IS important . . . but what is much more important, is to confess your sin to God and allow Christ to live His life through you. So-called religion today, is a devastating cover-up. Many churches are teaching false doctrines and the commandments of men (Mat.15:9). BEWARE!!! We must have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus! (Jn.3:15-18, 36).
God's Concern for Their Welfare (58:8-14)
God wants His people to turn to Him in a real way. He hates hypocrisy!
Isaiah 58:8 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. (KJV)
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning . . . Isaiah shows that God is never too hard or severe. He does not demand from us more than what is proper, and will never give us more than we can bear (1 Cor.10:13). The hypocrites complain of Him without cause, when they accuse Him of excessive harshness. When their works are condemned, they murmur, and reply that God is never satisfied, that they do not know what they should do, or what course they should follow. The LORD replies that He demands nothing else than a pure and honest heart, and that if they have this, God will graciously receive them, and will bear testimony to their holiness, and will bestow every kind of blessing on those whose faults He justly chastises. There is no reason why they should murmur at Him as being excessively stern and harsh, because they will find Him to be kind and generous when they lay down all hypocrisy, and devote themselves sincerely to His service. The word light means prosperity, and the word darkness means a wretched and afflicted life; and this style of expression occurs very often in Scripture.
And thine health shall spring forth speedily. . . by health he means prosperity and safety, as we shall afterwards see in another Passage, because the wounds inflicted by the Hand of God on account of their sins had brought the people so low that they wasted away like a sick man under terrible disease. No disease of any kind is more severe or deadly than to be pursued by God’s righteous vengeance, or consumed under His curse.
And thy righteousness shall go before thee . . . righteousness shall be thy leader, as an army is conducted. The idea is that when they conform to His divine laws, they would serve the purpose of a leader to conduct them in the ways of peace, happiness, and prosperity. They shall have the comfort and credit of His bounty and charity, which is oft called righteousness (Ps.112:9; Dan.4:24; Acts 10:35).
The glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward . . . thereference here is no doubt to the way in which the children of Israel came out of Egypt. Shall be thy rereward (rear guard), shall gather thee up, and shall bring up the rear (Isa.52:12). The glorious LORD shall see to their safety (Ps.27:10; Pro.27:10; Isa.52:12).
*****God could not give His blessing and glory to a people who practiced their religion so badly. This is one of the reasons the world today is not convinced that the LORD is in His holy Temple (Ps.11:4; Hab.2:20). The world is simply passing by the church, because they do not believe God is in there. And, what is worse is, that they are probably right. God is telling us through Isaiah that He cannot, nor will not manifest Himself because of the people’s sinful lives. We must cast aside all darkness and allow His light to shine through us.
Isaiah 58:9 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; (KJV)
Then shalt thou call and the LORD shall answer . . . Isaiah follows what he had formerly started, that everything shall prosper well with the Jews, IF they shall be just, unoffending and free from doing wrong to any one, so that it would be revealed in their goodness and religion. He states what is said by Hosea and repeated by Christ: I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings (Hos.6:6; Mat.9:13). After having spoken of the duties which mankind owes to one another, and testified that it shall be well with those who shall perform those duties, he adds, then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer. The main part of our happiness is, that God listen to us . . . for no one could be more miserable than to have Him for an enemy.
Thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am . . . this Promise also contains a warning, that we must not be idle. When He says that He is Present, this does not mean that He is visible to our eyes; but that He lets us feel, deep within, that He is near and He loves us.
If thou shalt take away from the midst of thee the yoke . . . in the last part of the verse He again repeats that God will be reconciled to the Jews IF they repent. Under the word yoke Isaiah includes all the annoyances, irritations, and displeasures that they did to the poor . . . in other words . . . if they stop annoying their brethren, abstain from all violence and deceit, then the LORD will bestow upon them great blessings.
The putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity . . . this means every kind of attack; for we are said to point the finger, when we threaten our neighbors, or treat them cruelly, or bring them any violence. Speaking vanity is unprofitable speech. This is the third class of acts of injustice, by which we injure our neighbor when we impose upon him by cunning and deceitful words or flatteries; for every iniquity consists either of concealed malice and deceit, or of open violence.
On this Passage some say that it was an ancient custom, when any person was the object of scorn, or was treated with obvious contempt or disgraceful rebuke, to point at him by holding out the middle finger.
*****God wanted to hear their prayers and He wanted to bless, and this holds true in today’s world as well. He wanted to open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing upon them, but their hearts were not open to receive it. Many people say their prayers are not answered. WHY is that? It is not because God does not want to answer them! It is because their problem is that their hearts are not open to receive the blessing God wants to give them. Unless you are under God’s wrath for some reason, God tells us that the moment we cry out to Him, he shall say, Here I am! What a comfort it is to know that when we go to God in prayer, He IS there, and He will answer us! He answers prayer in 3 ways: Yes, no, wait a while, and His decision is always right, no matter what we may think. He knows and sees things we cannot see. Trust Him!
Any time you have prayers which are not being answered, the problem is with you, NOT the LORD! Is there some evil that you should cast away? Is there something that you should have done, that you did not do? Is there something that you did or said, that you should not have said or done? Is there something you must confess to Him and beg forgiveness? (1 Jn.1:8-10)
Isaiah 58:10 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: (KJV)
If thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul . . . the word soul here is the same as heart, or kind, compassionate affection; and the idea is, they should express caring affection or kindness toward those in need. Isaiah goes on to recommend the duties of that love that we owe one another. The summary of the whole speech is that it is in vain when men serve God, when they offer to Him only minor and bare ceremonies; which is not fit for the right and proper worship of the LORD, who firmly commands and instructs us to lead an upright and innocent life with our neighbors, willingly give ourselves and our labors to them, and to be ready to assist them willingly and cheerfully, whenever necessary.
Then shall thy light shall rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday . . . here again we havethe same Promise, under the same symbol of light (vs.8). By darkness he means adversity, and by light prosperity; as if he had said to the people, the LORD will cause all the miseries by which they were now oppressed to cease, and sudden prosperity shall spring up. So, Isaiah tells them that there is no reason why they should blame God for punishing them so harshly; for they would directly be delivered and enjoy prosperity if they sincerely worshipped and obeyed God.
*****Isaiah asked them to practice one specific thing that the LORD might bless them. He picked just one thing, where he could have stated a dozen things they did wrong but He chose only one. God promised to bless them IF they would show heart-felt sincerity in their religion.
Isaiah 58:11 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. (KJV)
And the LORD shall guide thee continually . . . . Isaiah now describes more clearly what he had spoken briefly and figuratively before, that God will be their Guide, so that they shall be in want of nothing, and receive an abundance of blessings from Him. God is said to guide or conduct us, when we in reality feel that He goes before us, showing us the way.
And satisfy thy soul in drought . . . Isaiah adds that the help promised would not be of a short period, because God never forsakes His people in the middle of the journey, but continues His kindness towards them with tireless regularity, and that they shall be satisfied even in deepest poverty. God is never in want of any benefits for relieving their poverty, and His acts of blessings is of much more value than the most abundant rains of the whole year. He does not promise believers to have a plentiful harvest, but that He will nourish them, even though the Earth yield no food. Isaiah begs them to depend on God’s help and guidance and be satisfied with it, even though they were not totally free from the agonies of famine. Consider the following Passages when you have discontent or worry: Phil. 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (KJV)
1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (KJV) Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (KJV)
And will make fat thy bones . . . or, make nimble; the expression relates to bones full of marrow, which causes agility and nimbleness, a state of health and strength (Pro.15:30). Or it means cheerfulness, which is often the cause of bones well covered with fat; therefore a broken or a sorrowful spirit is said to dry up the bones (Pro.17:22). This could be said in opposition to the sad effects of famine, whereby the flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen, and the bones that were not seen stick out (Job 33:21), they cleave to the skin (Ps.102:5). This may regard their afflicted estate in Babylon, where they complain that their bones were broken (Lam.3:4), but now in their return their bones should not only be made whole, but strong and in good condition.
And thou shalt be like a watered garden . . . like a garden for the pleasure and beauty of it, a paradise; like a garden watered continually, where there shall be no withering or decay (Ps.1:3), which is contrary to what is said of the wicked (Ps.37:2, 10, 20, 35-36).
And like a spring of water, whose waters fail not . . . which deceive not; a symbol which also shows the continuation of this flourishing state, which will not be like brooks or a flooded land, that will soon be dried up with drought (Job 6:15), but will be fed with a spring of blessing that will never fail. A spring of water is an extremely important symbol, for a spring of water by nature, freely and spontaneously pour out their bowels to all that come to it. It is not ever scanty, but flows abundantly at all times. What a beautiful picture of our awesome LORD! The LORD is indeed, a Fountain of Goodness, and a Fountain of Life: (Ps.36:9; Jer.2:13; 17:13; Rev.21:6).
*****Isaiah does not seem content in describing the loving-kindness of God, which He shows to His sincere worshippers. I often have this feeling. I just cannot say enough about how tremendous and wonderful our awesome God really is! Isaiah uses symbols of a watered garden, and a spring of waters which we cannot find anywhere else than the LORD, so it is absolute wisdom to seek Him. The devil and the world offer in vain, nothing but desolation and emptiness. It adds up to this: the Fountain of God’s kindness never dries up, but always flows continually . . . unless we do something to stop its course. Disobedience to God is a terrible thing! Disobedience is in reality, a spring, NOT of water . . . but of SIN! It would be wise for us all to check out what God may think of our life! Is there any continual sin in your life? Repent and get rid of it, and trust and accept God’s way, and that wonderful Spring of Water or Fountain of Life will quench your thirst forever!
The Constant Need
Isaiah 58:11 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. (KJV)
My soul does not cease, of the constant need,
To honor and praise You, and give You heed.
I feel as Isaiah, no words can provide,
How my heart feels, as in You I abide.
Like a watered garden, to us You tend,
On Your goodness, we can always depend.
Like a spring of water, You don’t deny,
Your Fountain of kindness, will not run dry,
So many things You do, run thru’ my mind,
Blessings You bestow, because You are kind.
Abundant blessings, You bestow each day,
Leading and guiding, each step of the way.
I thank You, for Your watch care over me,
Day or night, You watch continually.
I thank You for the angels, who stand guard,
Who keep away all danger, from me barred.
I thank You, for eternal salvation,
Giv’n to me, by Your dearly beloved Son.
Redeemed, from the eternal lake of fire,
Promised Heav’n instead, that I would acquire.
Your lovingkindness, and amazing grace,
Make me know one day, I’ll meet You Face to face.
So I’ll keep off’ring, the sacrifice of praise,
My heart-felt gratitude, to You I’ll raise.
So many reasons, for the constant need,
That gratitude and honor, from me must proceed.
I must praise and thank, the dear LORD above,
For all the goodness, that comes from His love.
By: His servant, Connie Kramer Jan.14, 2017 #1394
Fountain of Life: (Ps.36:9; Jer.2:13; 17:13; Rev.21:6). God’s Goodness: (Ex.34:6; 2 Chron.6:41; Neh.9:25; Ps.25:7; 27:13; 31:19; 33:5; 52:1; 107:8-9, 15, 21,31; 145:7; Ecc.2:24; Isa.63:7; Jer.31:12, 14; Hos.3:5; 6:4; 10:1; Zec.9:17; Mat.6:31-33; Rom.2:4; 11:22;15:14; 2 Cor.5:21; Gal.5:22; Eph.5:9; 2 Thes.1:11) God’s Love: Rom.8:38-39; 1 Cor.2:9; 2 Cor.13:11; 2 Thes.3:5; Tit.3:4; 1 Jn.2:5; 3:17; 4:9; 5:3; Jude 1:21) God’s mercy: (Ex.15:13; 20:6; 33:19; 34:7; Num.14:18-19; Deut.5:10; 7:2,9; Ps.23:6; 25:7,10; 33:18,22; 36:5; 59:16-17; 86:5,13,15)
God’s Faithfulness: (Gen.9:15; 18:19; 21:1; Deut.4:31; 7:9; Josh.21:45; Ps.9:10; 36:5; 40:10; 71:8; 89:1, 24; 119:90, 138; Isa.25:1; 44:26; 49:7; Lam.3:23; Eze.16:60; Hos.2:2; Zec.8:8; 1 Cor.1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor.1:20; Heb.6:18; 11:11; 2 Pet.3:9) Guardian angels: (Ps.34:7; 91:11; Dan.6:22; Mat.18:10; Lk.16:22; 22:43; Heb.1:14) Heb. 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Receiving a poem in the middle of my work does not happen too often, but when it does, it is a sign to include it in what I am working on. I hope you see what the goodness, faithfulness, love and mercy of the LORD means to me. The need to thank and praise Him is constantly with me.
Isaiah 58:12 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. (KJV)
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places . . . by waste places Isaiah means the city and Temple, with cities and places nearby, all were turned into a waste, or wilderness, void and untilled, and which was done not only by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, but by Sennacherib also, and the other kings of Assyria. They had lain so long desolate, that the foxes inhabited them instead of men (Lam.5:18). And it was turned so much into a desert, that they were forced to fight with the beasts that possessed it to get their food (Lam.5:9).
Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations . . . some think that this conveys what Isaiah had formerly said, and that by the foundations of many generations are meant those which lay long in a ruinous state; because out of them, the building must be immediately raised and set up; for various hindrances had arisen, by which that work was interrupted. But I think this may refer to the time to come in the last days. It seems that Isaiah promises that the condition of the TRUE Church shall be of long duration; as if he had said, other buildings do not last long, but this shall last for many ages, but if anyone thinks this refers to the past, I will not argue with him.
And thou shalt be called . . . here the Prophet includes both above statements; that is, that the people would resemble a ruined building, and next, that they would be perfectly restored. He assigns this to the Jews, that they shall be repairers and directors of the ways; and that the LORD will make use of their labors. Wisdom tells us that we should give credit for everything to the power of God, who is pleased to bestow upon us so high an honor as to permit our hands to be applied to His work. We have here an amazing Promise about gathering and raising up the ruins of the Church; and since the LORD is pleased to make use of our labor, we should not hesitate to be entirely devoted to it; and even though the world opposes and mocks us, and calls us fools, let us stand by Him in every difficulty. Our hearts should cherish assured confidence in Him, when we know that it is the work of the LORD, and that He has commanded us to execute it.
The repairer of the breach . . . breach is put here collectively for many breaches, which were made by God's judgment breaking in upon them in suffering the walls of their towns and cities to be demolished, and their state broken (Isa.5:5).
The restorer of paths to dwell in . . . the old paths (Jer.6:16). To dwell in this relates most likely, to the discouraged Jerusalem which, on the return from Babylon, is to be rebuilt, and its streets and walks restored. The restorer of paths, such a one was Moses (Ps.106:23). This is the same sense as the former expression, because men were accustomed to make paths over those breaches, to go the nearest way. To dwell in, the accommodations being all recovered, their ancient cities might be fit to be re-inhabited.
Isaiah 58:13 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: (KJV)
If thou shalt turn away thy foot from the sabbath . . . the meaning of this seems to be, that they should be careful not to take their pleasure on the Sabbath Day, by paying visits, and taking country jaunts; not going more than a Sabbath Day's journey (Acts 1:12), which was only about 2000 paces, or about ½ mile. How vilely this rule is transgressed by the inhabitants of this land! They seem to think that the Sabbath was made only for their recreation!
From doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight . . . delight, must be viewed as referring to God, and not to men; because nothing can be more pleasing or acceptable to God, than the observation of the Sabbath, and sincere worship. He carefully instructs that men do wrong, if they lay aside the commandments of God, and if they highly esteem those things which are of no value; and He warns them that they should form their judgment from God’s will alone. Certain classes of duties are again enumerated by Isaiah, by which he shows clearly that the TRUE observation of the Sabbath consists of self-denial and thorough change.
The holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him . . . and shalt honor him, or rather shall honor the Sabbath. It seems that if a person honors the Sabbath, they are honoring the LORD.
Not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words . . .
not doing thine own ways, this clearly explains the beginning phrase of this verse . . . if thou turn away thy foot. They were not to do any earthly labor, or do things for their own pleasure, but were to regard the Sabbath Day as belonging to God, and were to be employed in His service alone. Nor finding thine own pleasure, one version says: and shalt not provide on that day those things which are necessary for thee. Nor speaking thine own words, some render this as, from speaking vain words; others say, nor utter a word in anger from thy mouth; or words of violence. And certainly not blasphemy, cursing and dirty jokes. Now, although that ceremony (Sabbath) has been abolished, nevertheless the Truth remains; because Christ died and rose again, so that we have a continual Sabbath; meaning, we are released from our works, that the Spirit of God may work mightily in us.
Five requirements in regards to the Sabbath:
#1. Do not violate it.
#2. Do not do your own pleasure on that day.
#3. It should be a delight.
#4. It is the Holy Day of the LORD.
#5. It should be honored, for it is of God.
*****God gave the Sabbath to the nation Israel. Exodus 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (KJV) . . . Read the entire passage Exodus 31:12-18.
For us today it is different. Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (KJV) . . . The word for rest is Sabbath, we must not come short of entering into His rest. Hebrews 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (KJV)
We all must ask ourselves: Have I entered into His Sabbath, which is the rest of redemption? Have I come to the place where I completely trust Christ? Do I accept the fact that He has done everything that is needed for my salvation? Am I resting in His finished work?
There are many people who think that they must DO something in order to earn salvation, or do something so they do not lose their salvation? Dear one, God loves us and He wants us to completely trust His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. To enter into His rest means not only great blessings for us, but it opens up a way where we can serve Him. What brought the apostle Paul to a life of missionary, was when he entered into the rest of redemption.
Isaiah 58:14 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. (KJV)
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD . . . this refers to the previous verse. If they would delight themselves in the Sabbath, then they shall delight in the God of the Sabbath; or they shall have cause to delight in the LORD, in His goodness and faithfulness to them, and so shall live by faith in Him as the Fountain of all good (Ps.37:4), in the assurance of His love and favor (Ps.33:21), and that in great abundance (Ps.36:8); for such delights, which NO wicked man can have (Pro.14:10).
And I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth . . . a phrase like this is seen in: Deut. 32:13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; (KJV)
Habakkuk 3:19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. (KJV)
Psalm 18:33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places. (KJV)
Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name. (KJV) . . . Some suppose that the idea is, that God would restore the exiled Jews to their own land, a land of mountains and high places, higher than the surrounding regions. One says that the phrase is taken from a conqueror, who on his horse or in his chariot, occupies mountains, hills, towers and monuments, and subjects them to himself. Another thinks it means, I will place you in lofty and inaccessible places, where you will be safe from all your enemies. By the words above, God promises them a return to their native country, and a safe habitation in it. We know that Judea was situated on a high place above the neighboring countries; while the situation of Babylon was much lower, so that the people trembled as if they had been shut up in a cave.
And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father . . . that is, they shall possess the land promised to Jacob as an inheritance.
For the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it . . . this formula often occurs when an important Promise is made, and it is regarded as ample security for the fulfillment that the LORD has promised it. What more ample security can be required, or conceived, than the Promise of the eternal God?
*****The viewpoint here is extended, and the outlook of the future opens up before us. They may delay the approaching glory, but they cannot destroy God's plan for the coming manifestation of His glory in the last days. Rev. 22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (KJV)
Ten things in Isaiah 58 . . . that do NOT establish a fast:
#1. Practices about which we complain (vs.3)
#2. Afflicting the soul to try to attract God (vs.3-5)
#3. Finding pleasures in it (vs.3)
#4. Rigorous labors (vs.3)
#5. Strife and debates (vs.4)
#6. Smiting with the fist of wickedness (vs.4)
#7. Making your voice to be heard on high (vs.4)
#8. Bowing the head like a bulrush to make an impression on others (vs.5)
#9. Spreading sackcloth as ashes under them (vs.5)
#10. Having a sad countenance, disfiguring the face, and making a show to be seen of men (in fasting or any other practice (Mat.6:16-18)
Some sins of Hypocrites in Isaiah 58:3-5, and elsewhere:
#1. They seek God daily (vs.2, seeking to be only an outward show to attract attention to self and deceive others.
#2. Delight to know God's ways (vs.2). They pretend to delight to know His ways, and carry out many rites and rituals, but the heart is far from the LORD (Isa.29:13).
#3. They act as a nation which has done righteousness (vs.2), but their acts consist only of outward forms and rituals, while they continually break God's laws (Isa.1:4-15). Even in the days of Christ the very ones who would not enter a hall lest they be defiled so they could not eat the Passover, were crying out, demanding the murder of their Messiah (Jn.18:28).
#4. They act as if they did not want to forsake the ordinances of God (vs.2), referring to the ordinances pertaining to the outward rituals and forms of religion. Hypocrites are always very careful not to violate any scruple that does not affect morals or restrain them from living in open sin and idolatry (Isa.1:4-15).
#5. They ask of God ordinances of justice (vs.2). Their priests and rulers consult about the law, but at the same time they are filled with oppression, strife, murder, and wickedness (Isa.1:4-15; 5:8-23; 6:10; Mat.23).
#6. They delight in approaching God (vs.2), they delight being in hypocritical practices, for they think that outward religion pleases God (Isa.1:4-15; Mat.23).
#7. They complain that their fasts and strict observances of rituals and forms are ignored by God (vs.3). This one fact alone should be enough to prove that they rebel against God in spite of their outward religion.
#8. They complain that God has taken no knowledge of their afflictions of the soul (vs.3). By their very few acts of self-denial, they seek to obligate, or force the LORD to do things for them.
#9. They make fast days times of pleasure to relieve discomforts of self-denial (vs.3).
#10. They are careful and precise, on the demands made upon their servants who labor for them (vs.3), making sure they get all that is due them.
#11. They make their fasts periods of strife and debate (vs.4).
#12. They make their fasts times of religious show to the public by mourning, wailing, and throwing dust and ashes upon themselves (vs.5). Also see: (Isa.1:15; Mat.2,5; 23:14; Lk.18:10-11; 20:47).
#13. They make their fasts periods of affliction and pretended sufferings (vs.5).
#14. They go around appearing that they are fasting, and claim merits from God by such acts (vs.5).
The purpose of this chapter is to rebuke Judah for depending upon performance of outward show in religion, and claiming protection from God because of such rites.
Fasting is one of the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines. For through fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit can transform your life.
Fasting and prayer can also work on a much grander scale. According to Scripture, personal experience and observation, I am convinced that when God's people fast with a proper Biblical motive, that of seeking God's Face, not His Hand, and do it with a broken, remorseful and contrite spirit, God absolutely will hear from Heaven and heal our lives and our churches. The awesome power can be released through you as you fast through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual counsels. It has been ignored for so long that it is hard to find any information on the how-to's of this life-changing practice.
If you do not know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:
Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example,
Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods (Ex.34:28; Deut.9:9). Jesus fasted 40 days (Lk.4:2), and reminded His followers to fast, when you fast (Mat.6:16), not if you fast.
<>Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the first love (Rev.2:4) for your LORD and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
<>Fasting is a Biblical way to rightly humble yourself in the sight of God (Ps.35:13).
<>Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life (Jonah 3:5-10).
<>Fasting will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His Truth will become more meaningful to you!
<>Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
<>Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to others.
<>Fasting and prayer are Biblical disciplines that fulfill the requirements of: 2 Chron.7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (KJV)
When a person fasts in the right way, they will be humbled in His awesome Presence. They will realize it is wise indeed to fast and pray to the LORD, and seek His Face, because He leads you to see and repent of unconfessed sin, which will bring special blessings from God.
Spiritual Preparation for Fasting
As you prepare for this special time with the LORD, it is wise to carefully examine your heart, and become totally aware of any unconfessed sin. The Bible tells us that God always demands that His people to repent of their sins before He will hear their prayers (Ps.66:18; Isa.1:15; 30:9; 59:2; Jer.14:12; Mal.2:2). When we pray, we must confess not only noticeable sins, but less apparent ones as well. We all have sins of omission (things we should have said or done and did not do), as well as the sins of commission (things we have said or done).
Consider the following: James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (KJV) Romans 7:14-20 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)
Fasting is a common practice in Christianity. When Jesus was talking with His disciples He taught them about fasting. It was expected that His disciples would fast (Mat.6:16-18).
Here some tips for fasting.
Plan Your Fast
The Bible has examples of one-day, three-day, seven-day and forty-day fasts (Judges 20:26, Esther 4:16, 1 Samuel 31:13 and Matthew 4). We should always enter a fast with prayer, and a specific plan for how long we will fast.
There are many types of fasts as well. Some people fast with only water for short periods, while others maintain multi-week fasts with juice and broth maintaining a strict liquid diet.
Part of planning your fast should be to learn the different types of fasts and reasons to fast. It is also important to know how to break your fast correctly. This becomes more serious the longer your fast lasts.
Consider Your Schedule
While a fast, by nature, is inconvenient, it should be an inconvenience to you, not to those around you. You should not force your family to skip Thanksgiving dinner because of your fast.
Tell Only the People You Must
Your spouse will need to know you are fasting. Other than that, it is better not telling people that you are fasting. Most will not understand, and too, fasting can also be source of pride and boasting as you spread the news to more and more people. Telling your pastor can be a help both to you and to him. It will be an encouragement for him to pray more specifically for you during this time, and you will know that someone is praying for your spiritual and physical wellbeing.
Wean Yourself off Caffeine
Several days before your fast begins, you should start weaning yourself off caffeine. Some people have unbearable headaches 2 to 3 days after stopping caffeine products. During your fast you will already be very aware of your stomach, so there is no need to add a second discomfort of caffeine if it can be avoided.
What Is Fasting?
In most cases, a spiritual fast involves withdrawing from food while concentrating on prayer. A fast can mean refraining from snacks between meals, skipping one or two meals a day, stop eating only certain foods, or a total fast from all food for an entire day or longer.
For medical reasons, some people may not be able to fast from food altogether. They may choose to abstain only from certain foods, like sugar or chocolate, or from something other than food. In reality, believers may fast from anything. Doing without something temporarily, such as television or soda, is a way of redirecting our focus from earthly things toward God, can also be considered a spiritual fast.
The Purpose of Spiritual Fasting
While many people fast to lose weight, a dieting fast is not really considered a spiritual fast, because fasting provides exceptional spiritual benefits in the life of the believer.
Spiritual fasting demands self-control and discipline, as we deny the natural desires of the flesh. Spiritual fasting causes the believer's focus to be removed from the physical worldly things and to be deeply concentrated on God. Spiritual fasting leads and guides our hunger toward the LORD, clearing the mind and body of earthly cares and draws us closer to God. As we gain spiritual clearness of thought while fasting, it allows us to hear the LORD’S Voice so much more plainly. Spiritual fasting also reveals in us a deep need of God's help and guidance through complete dependence on Him.
What Fasting Is Not
Spiritual fasting is NOT a way to earn God's favor by getting Him to do something for us, but instead, fasting produces a change in us, which gives us a clearer, more focused attention and dependence on the LORD.
Fasting is NEVER to be a public display of spirituality, as the hypocrites do (Mat.23). Fasting is between you and God alone. Jesus specifically instructed us to let our fasting be done privately and in humility, or else we forfeit the wonderful benefits. While Old Testament fasting was a sign of mourning, New Testament believers were taught to practice fasting with a cheerful attitude. Matthew 6:16-18 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (KJV)
Last, but not least, spiritual fasting is never to be considered as the purpose of punishing or harming the body.
Some Questions about Spiritual Fasting
How Long Should I Fast?
Fasting, especially from food, should be limited to a decided length of time. Fasting for too long can cause harm to the body. Fasting without water is extremely dangerous. I believe that the decision to fast should be guided by the Holy Spirit. While Jesus and Moses both fasted for 40 days without food (Deut.9:9; Mat.4:1-2), it is said that Moses took neither food nor water. This was clearly impossible, being accomplished only through power of the Holy Spirit . . . and no one should fast for any length of time without water.
How Often Can I Fast?
New Testament Christians practiced prayer and fasting regularly. Even though there is no Biblical command to fast, believers should be led by the LORD through prayer, concerning when and how often they should fast.
Examples of Fasting in the Bible
Old Testament Fasting
- Moses fasted 40 days on behalf of Israel’s sin Deut.9:9,18,25-29; 10:10).
- David fasted and mourned the death of Saul (2 Sam.1:12).
- David fasted and mourned the death of Abner (2 Sam.3:35).
- David fasted and mourned the death of his child (2 Sam.12:16).
- Elijah fasted 40 days after fleeing from Jezebel (1 Ki.19:7-18).
- Ahab fasted and humbled himself before God (1 Ki.21:27-29).
- Darius fasted in concern for Daniel (Dan.6:18-24).
- Daniel fasted on behalf of Judah's sin while reading Jeremiah’s prophecy (Dan.9:1-19).
- Daniel fasted regarding the mysterious vision from God (Dan.10:3-13).
- Esther fasted on behalf of her people (Est.4:13-16).
- Ezra fasted and wept for the sins of the returning remnant (Ezra 10:6-17).
- Nehemiah fasted and mourned over the broken walls of Jerusalem (Neh.1:4-2:10).
- The people of Ninevah fasted when they heard the message of Jonah (Jonah 3).
New Testament Fasting
- Anna fasted for the redemption of Jerusalem through the Coming Messiah Lk.2:37).
- Jesus fasted 40 days before His temptation and the start of His ministry (Mat.4:-11).
- The disciples of John the Baptist fasted (Mat.9:14-15).
- The elders in Antioch fasted before sending off Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-5).
- Cornelius fasted and sought God’s plan of salvation (Acts 10:30).
- Paul fasted three days after his Damascus Road meeting with Jesus (Acts 9:9).
- Paul fasted 14 days while at sea on a sinking ship (Acts 27:33-34).
Rites and rituals periodical fasts, such as those people keep in Lent, instead of being well pleasing in the sight of God, are offensive to Him, because, they are based on a false idea of our awesome God’s character. The supporters say this should be a time of special religiousness. My friend, you are either righteous because you are justified by faith in Christ alone (Rom.1:17; 4:4-5; 3:22-26; 5:1,9,18) . . . or you are not righteous. Justified . . . by Christ Jesus . . . NO one, nor anything else!
Periodical fasts are based on and promote false ideas of human duty. These fasts tend to encourage the belief of the sinfulness of the material world, the body, and all by which it is nourished and refreshed. It is true that in the New Testament the flesh is represented as the natural and deadly enemy of the spirit; but the flesh means not the bodily nature, but the passions and lusts of an un-renewed heart. To fast under the idea that the body is sinful, and that the more we can mortify it the better, is wrong. To fast at the cost of physical health and energy is more than a mistake; it is a sin to sacrifice the health which is one of God's most precious gifts, and which is so vital to enable us to do the service in the world which He requires at our hands. Fasting in this way, lead to substituting an outward and bodily sacrifice for the inward and spiritual sacrifice and worship the LORD desires of us.
Physical Preparation for a Fast of Abstaining Altogether
Although fasting is mainly a spiritual discipline, we should not fast without special physical preparation. If you plan on a fast by abstaining altogether, it is wise to begin by eating smaller meals for several days, before you abstain altogether. Having smaller meals a few days before you begin the fast will be a warning sign to your mind, stomach and appetite that less food is okay. Some suggest eating only raw foods for two days before starting this type of fast. Stopping caffeine and sugar products could ease your first hunger or discomfort at the early stages of your fast.
To receive God's best blessing from a fast demands total commitment. Having a special time set apart each day with the LORD is vital in achieving a close fellowship with Him. You must devote yourself to seeking God's Face, even (and especially) during those times in which you feel weak, vulnerable or irritable. Read His Word and pray during what were mealtimes. Meditate on Him when you awake in the night. Sing praises to Him all the time. Always be aware that Satan will do everything he can to void your fast, by pulling you away from your prayer and Bible reading time. When this happens, go immediately to God in prayer and ask Him to strengthen your resolve in the face of difficulties and temptations.
Your reason in fasting must be to glorify God, NOT to have an emotional experience, and NOT to attain personal happiness. When your motives are right, God will honor you and bless your time with Him in a very special way.
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