The Book of Isaiah Bible Study Chapter 58 Part 1

Isaiah

Our next reading is Isaiah 58:1-8

Serving G-d is a spiritual battle. The good news is that we not only have armour to put on (Eph 6:11-13), but we have another mighty weapon in our spiritual arsenal: fasting. 

v1: Spare not: Hold nothing back. G-d is telling the people that He wants total commitment. He wants us to demonstrate intensity and seriousness concerning spirituality related to His will. The only things that are pleasing to G-d are those things which are centred upon His will and purposes. 

  • Trumpet: Referring to the shofar or ram’s horn. The shofar should always remind us of G-d’s provision (Gen 22:13-14). G-d will provide everything we need to carry out His will, everything we need in order to be found faithful, everything we need to defeat the enemy. 
  • My people: The children of Israel (those who were living at the time of Isaiah). 
  • Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins: If we are going to serve G-d we have to first and foremost begin with acknowledging our sin and transgression. We then have to deal with that sin and transgression appropriately [ie. through the blood – in the Old Testament it was through the blood of bulls and goats (this forgiveness lasted for one year), in the New Testament it is through the blood of the Lamb – Yeshua Messiah – this forgiveness lasts for eternity).  

v2: Note: In this verse we are told about what G-d expects from His people. 

  • Seek: This is a word which is related to a strong desire. It is a word that shows commitment and seriousness. 
  • Delight to know: They place great value on knowing G-d’s ways. 
  • Did not forsake the ordinance (justice) of their G-d: They have not left G-d’s justice. 
  • Righteousness … (justice): There is a correlation between justice (carrying out G-d’s judgment) and righteousness. We need to get involved in making sure that justice is carried out. When justice is maintained, the outcome is righteousness. Righteousness, in turn, reveals the glory of G-d. 
  • Take delight in approaching G-d: All of the actions being taken by the people are for one purpose: to draw them near to G-d (ie to be in the presence of G-d). These actions are not for the purpose of being blessed in a materialistic way, but for being blessed with the very presence of G-d. 

v3: Note: G-d is speaking to His people about taking His Word seriously and demonstrating faith. Biblical fasts were always accompanied by prayer. How we behave impacts our prayer life and therefore impacts our fasting. In this chapter, G-d begins to teach us how we can fast more effectively. Fasting effectively leads to us being transformed into an obedient servant of G-d – able to carry out His purposes. The people have heard what G-d’s expectation of them is – how they are to seek Him, and live according to the knowledge of His ways. 

  • Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen: This is how the people answer G-d. They tell Him that they have fasted, but He has not been watching them do it. They are doing these things, but they are not getting the response from G-d that they want to get. They are willing to be so called “spiritual” in order to accomplish their own objectives and materialistic purposes. G-d is not pleased with His people.
  • Find pleasure (literally: seek what you want)…exploit all your labourers (literally: and all your works you carry out)They are not fasting and praying for the purposes of G-d. They are trying to manipulate G-d to do for them what they want done for themselves. This is not pleasing to G-d.

v4: Debate: Argument.

  • Strike with the fist of wickedness: They are wanting to be empowered by G-d so that they can inflict pain, suffering and a victorious blow upon their enemy. They wrongly think that G-d is going to bless their contention and strife. 
  • To make your voice heard on high: This kind of fasting is not going to cause G-d to hear them. This kind of fasting will have no positive influence in their lives, because their commitment is to their own objectives and not to the will of G-d. 

v5: Bulrush: A reed found by the waters. It very easily bends down, as it is a soft plant, it is weak and not strong. 

Note: They are fasting, but G-d is not recognising it as a fast unto Himself. He is not impressed with their behaviour, and He is not going to respond to it. They are not demonstrating a contrite heart, nor the right attitude. Although they are using the right terminology, what they are doing is a form of idolatry.

v6: Loose the bonds of wickedness: People are suffering injustice. G-d wants us to set them free, to open up the cords of wickedness that bind people and cause them to suffer.

  • Yoke: This is literally the word for a pole or a rod. There are bundles of these rods upon the back of an individual. The people’s own wants and desires are weighing them down like a heavy burden on their backs. This is not G-d’s will for His people (Matt 11:29-30). 

Note: This is the principle that we learn in this verse: If we want G-d to deliver, assist and help us then we need to be helping, assisting and blessing others. It is righteous behaviour that should lead up to our fasting. We should be seeking out ways to carry out G-d’s will; ways to alleviate the suffering of others; removing the injustice, unrighteousness and the weighty things of this world that afflict people. We need to get involved in other people’s   lives. 

v7: The poor who are cast out: The homeless. 

  • Own flesh: A fellow brother. Someone who is part of your own family. 

Note: We are not to ignore the suffering or the plight of our fellow human beings. G-d wants us to get involved in their lives. If they are naked, we are to clothe them. If they are hungry, we are to feed them. If they are homeless, we are to bring them into our homes. 

v8: Your light shall break forth: If we take to heart and are obedient to what G-d commands in Isaiah 58:7 then we are going to be instruments that manifest G-d’s glory (Matt 5:16). This is the responsibility that is incumbent upon us as believers – being instruments that manifest G-d’s glory. 

  • (literally: The glory of the L-RD will gather you): When we do what we have been called to do, we are brought into the presence of the L-rd. 

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