Chapter 58 begins by instructing Someone to lift up his voice like a trumpet and preach a message to Israel. There is one Person in Scripture who has a voice like a trumpet, the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 4:16; Rev 1:10; 4:1) Therefore, I believe it is Him that verse 1 of Chapter 58 is addressed to.
Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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.
When Jesus began his public ministry He told Israel they needed to repent. (Matt 4:17) In many different ways, like the cleansing of the temple for example, Jesus showed 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 forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
Paul, who was Jewish, wrote that the Jews have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Rom 10:2) Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matt 15:8,9)
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.
In other words, they were performing their religious acts for themselves, not for God. Jesus said They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. (Luke 7:32)
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.
One of the things that comes to mind when I read this verse is John 19:3, where it says they smote him [Jesus] with their hands.
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?
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?
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?
Fasting merely to afflict one’s soul is a form of asceticism. Asceticism and virtually all other forms of religion are alike, inasmuch as they all require works and rituals. The Bible calls such deeds dead works. Christians fast to deny the flesh, but with the goal of tuning in to the Spirit. You have probably heard it said that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. That is the best way I know to describe what God asks of us. Religion is something man does to make himself acceptable to God. Christianity is something God did to make man acceptable to Him. Jesus already did everything. All He asks of us is that we believe it: This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:29) Good works are not something we do to earn God’s favor. We do them out of love for Him, as works of faith. (Relieve the oppressed, help the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, make ourselves available to those who need us.)
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 [rear guard].
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;
The putting forth of the finger would be, I suppose, an arrogant self-righteous tendency to accuse others. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
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:
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.
One of the amazing things about Scripture is how such a wide range of different authors—from a Greek physician to a Jewish fisherman to a Babylonian king—could write a unified message so perfectly sublime and crystal clear in its poetry, prose, and prophecy. For example, another prophet who lived around one hundred years after Isaiah, echoed Isaiah’s message. In Jeremiah 33:3, God says Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. In Jeremiah 29:13, 14, God says And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
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.
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:
Have you noticed the trend in Christianity to offer popular Christian authors on Bible study night, instead of just studying the Bible itself?
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.
The sweet psalmist of Israel wrote Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Ps 37:4) When a young lady receives a love letter from her boyfriend, she does not consider it work to read it. A Christian reads his Bible the same way, out of a desire to hear from God. Like the young girl, he contemplates every word and nuance, to determine what God is saying to him. If the young girl in my parable does something nice for her boyfriend, she does not consider it work, she enjoys doing it out of her love for him. Consider Jacob for example: And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. (Gen 29:20) As Jacob was working for Laban it did not even seem like work, because he was doing it for Rachel, his true love. That is the way serving the Lord should be for a Christian. The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is the Shema, which is recorded in the Torah:
…Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
…And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Father, help us to keep from being distracted that we may walk by faith and not my sight, that we may focus on that which is truly important, that we may delight ourselves in your Son, that we may love Him with all our heart, soul and might, in Jesus’ name. Amen.