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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 58

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Chapter 58

Cry aloud, spare not ( Isaiah 58:1 ),

The Lord is commanding now the prophet Isaiah.

lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily ( Isaiah 58:1-2 ),

Now there was a real inconsistency here, because the attendance at the temple worship had not diminished at all. People were still going through outward forms of religion. There was a popular religious movement on the surface, but the heart of the people was still alienated from God. And so there was a combination. They would go to temple and worship God. And yet they were still worshipping their own little idols and still following after their own flesh. And such was the dichotomy that existed then and such is the dichotomy today. There are people who still on the surface acknowledge God. And it's a surface experience, but it hasn't really affected down in their hearts and down in their lives, their way of living. And God was interested in the heart.

Now you remember when Jeremiah who prophesied shortly after Isaiah, and during the time of Jeremiah's prophecy, and we'll be getting into that a couple of weeks now, during the time of Jeremiah's prophecy when Josiah became the king. He was a good king and there was a popular religious movement under Josiah. You might say a revival. Everybody was going back to temple. And so the Lord said to Jeremiah, this young boy, "Now you go down to the temple and cry unto the people as they're going into the temple, saying, 'Trust not in lying vanities saying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these."'" In other words, God again was crying out against the fact that it was only a surface movement. It wasn't down deep in the hearts of the people a move towards Him. So here God is telling the prophet, "Cry out. Let your voice be like a trumpet. Show My people their transgressions for they seek Me daily."

they 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; and they take delight in approaching God ( Isaiah 58:2 ).

They had a great form of religion. Going to hear, inquiring, "What does God say?" And then they were complaining. They were even fasting, but they were saying to God,

How is it that we have fasted, and you do not see it? we have afflicted our soul, and you haven't taken any acknowledgment of it? ( Isaiah 58:3 )

But the Lord answers them.

Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and you exact all your labors. Behold, you fast for strife and for 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 ( Isaiah 58:3-4 ).

You're not really fasting to seek God but to prove a point.

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? will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? ( Isaiah 58:5 )

Do you think that I want an outward kind of a thing from you?

Now Jesus said when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites who like to make a big, open kind of a display of their fasting. They get a very mournful face and they don't anoint themselves and all. And they look very gaunt and sad. You say, "Oh, what's the matter, brother?" "Oh, I'm fasting today, brother, you know." "And oh my, isn't he spiritual?" And the Lord says, "Hey, don't do it that way. That's not... I don't want an outward fasting kind of a thing. If you're going to fast, let it be something really of your heart and seeking after Me. Don't let it be to prove a point. Don't let it be to gain an advantage." How many times people are trying to fast just to gain some kind of an advantage with God. Force God to answer my prayer because I'm fasting. If I'm going to afflict my soul and going to fast, let me do it out of a pure motive of just wanting God and more of God in my life. And do it unto God, not in a big display or show. But God said,

This is 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 you break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when you see the naked, that you would cover him; and that thou hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning ( Isaiah 58:6-8 ),

When you really are fasting right, doing what God wants, fasting and doing, God wants you to set free those that are oppressed. To feed those that are hungry. To clothe those that are poor. Take of your substance and really give it to someone else. "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 [come behind you] be your rearward. 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 ( Isaiah 58:8-9 );

So there is a fast that God will honor. And God will be with you. He'll go before you and behind you. He'll answer you when you call. They were fasting, but it was just a formality. And then they were saying, "Well, why doesn't God respond?" And so God answers why He was not responding.

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 shall be as the noonday: 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 ( Isaiah 58:10-11 ).

So the prosperity, the blessing, the glory if you draw out your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul.

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the old foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. 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, honorable; and thou shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and to feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it ( Isaiah 58:12-14 ).

So the right way to fast; the wrong way to fast. The right purposes and the wrong purposes. And also it does also follow in the keeping of the sabbath day, the right and the wrong way. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 58". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/isaiah-58.html. 2014.
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