Scripture reading – Isaiah 57; Isaiah 58

 

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Isaiah 57

Remembering that Isaiah’s prophecies were the precursor of God’s judgment, the prophet proposed that the righteous who died before they witnessed Jerusalem’s destruction and the people led away into captivity were fortunate to “enter into peace” (Isaiah 57:1-2).

The Folly and Fate of Spiritual Adulterers (Isaiah 57:3-15)

Judah had become a nation of spiritual adulterers who made sport of the righteous and mocked the LORD (Isaiah 57:3-4). They worshipped lifeless “idols under every green tree” and sacrificed their “children in the valleys” (Isaiah 57:5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35).

Failing to turn from their sins to the LORD, the people debased themselves before the heathen and sought the favor of kings (Isaiah 57:9). Without the LORD’s blessings, the people despaired with “no hope” (Isaiah 57:10). They had forsaken the LORD. In their hour of need, He became silent (“I held my peace,” Isaiah 57:11) and declared Judah’s pretense of righteousness “shall not profit thee” (Isaiah 57:12). The LORD warned, when you cry, “Let thy companies [idols] deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them [idols] all away” (Isaiah 57:13).

sacrificed their “children in the valleys”

Though Judah would be punished for her sins, the LORD promised, “he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain” (Isaiah 57:13). Isaiah reminded the people their covenant was with God. “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity [eternal God], whose name is Holy” (Isaiah 57:15a). The LORD promised the righteous, “I dwell in the high and holy place [heaven], with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

Closing thoughts for Isaiah 57

Although Judah would be punished for that nation’s sins, the LORD promised He would not be angry forever (Isaiah 57:16). He lovingly assured Judah He would “heal[pardon; restore],lead[guide], and “comfort” His people (Isaiah 57:18). The wicked, however, like a troubled sea, would not find rest (Isaiah 57:20), for “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21).

Are you at peace? While there is no peace to the wicked, those who trust Christ as Savior are “justified by faith, [and] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Perfect peace is promised to those “whose mind is stayed on [the LORD]: Because he trusteth in [the LORD]” (Isaiah 26:3).

 

Isaiah 58 – What Does the LORD Require?

Isaiah’s Reproof of Judah’s Sins (Isaiah 58:1)

If we could condense Isaiah 58 to just one word, that word would be “hypocrisy.” The chapter opened with the LORD instructing Isaiah, “Cry aloud, spare not, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, And shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1).

Unlike some fainthearted preachers in our day, the prophet Isaiah was not to sugarcoat the Word of the LORD. He was to lift his voice, not sparing a word, and herald God’s warning of judgment like a trumpet calling soldiers to battle.

The Transgressions and Sins of Judah (Isaiah 58:2-5)

They were religious phonies, hypocrites whose ways were acceptable but whose hearts and motives for following the Lord’s paths were based on selfish reasons. Though outwardly pious, the Lord looked past their actions and saw deep into their hearts (Isaiah 58:2). Like many today who say they worship the Lord, they had lost the “why” behind their actions, leaving in their wake emptiness, strife, and selfish gain (Isaiah 58:3a).

The LORD answered their complaints and said, “Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure [i.e., you go seeking joy; delight], and exact [oppress; demand; collect] all your labours [they gave and forgave nothing]” (Isaiah 58:3b). While they were the benefactors of God’s grace, they refused to show grace to others and refused to forgive their debts.

What they did in worship was not out of love to the LORD, but that He might be obligated to them. Outwardly they fasted, but they were contentious and quarreling among themselves (Isaiah 58:4). Their fasting and praying in “sackcloth and ashes” gave an appearance of piety, but the LORD asked, “Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?” (Isaiah 58:5)

Promises and Rewards for Turning and Obeying the LORD

The Fasting God Favored (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Fasting had become a religious ritual, but it was not the fasting God commanded His people to observe (Isaiah 58:6a). What pleased the LORD? What was the fasting He favored? Before they approached the LORD in fasting and prayers, God commanded them to address the sins and wickedness in their lives (Isaiah 58:6b-7).

How might men prepare their hearts to worship the LORD? To worship the LORD, we must be willing to forgive those who have offended us and “loose the bands of wickedness” committed by others (Isaiah 58:6b). God will not hear our prayers nor honor fasting if we harbor bitterness and oppress others (Isaiah 58:6c; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).

What honors the LORD? We honor the LORD when we feed the hungry and give shelter to the poor (Isaiah 58:7a; Luke 10:30-36). We invite God’s blessings when we clothe the naked and minister to the needs of our loved ones (Isaiah 58:7b; Galatians 6:1-2, 9-10).

                                                                                           

Promises and Rewards for Turning and Obeying the LORD (Isaiah 58:8-14)

1) We will reflect the Light of the LORD and enjoy good health. (Isaiah 58:8a)

2) We will be covered in the LORD’s righteousness and His glory. (Isaiah 58:8b)

3) The LORD will hear and answer our prayers. (Isaiah 58:9)

4) The LORD will use us to be a blessing to others. (Isaiah 58:10)

5) The LORD will guide us. (Isaiah 58:11a)

6) The LORD will satisfy our soul’s spiritual thirst and hunger. (Isaiah 58:11b)

7) The LORD will strengthen us. (Isaiah 58:12a)

8) The LORD will give us a new name: “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths [or broken walls].” (Isaiah 58:12b).

 

Closing thoughts for Isaiah 58

The people had ritualized fasting (which God did not command) and neglected and abused the Sabbath, which the LORD had commanded. The fourth commandment states, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”(Exodus 20:8). Still, the people spent the Lord’s Day pursuing pleasure and neglected to honor and worship Him (58:13). The LORD promised if His people would honor the Sabbath, and keep it holy, He would fill them with joy, bless them, and give them an inheritance (58:14).

Are you enjoying a blessed life? Are you honoring the LORD, not just in your practice, but in your heart? Are you choosing to be the conduit of His blessings to those in need? If you are not enjoying the blessings of the LORD (Isaiah 58:8-14), is it not time to examine your heart for sins that have come between you and Him?

Romans 12:11I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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