Isaiah 58

Note: This chapter concerns the fast of the Day of Atonement which Israel loved to celebrate but YHWH denounces as a sham because the outward show of fasting was not matched by the practice of righteousness. Verse 2 stresses the delight/pleasure of their external show of fasting, and this contrasts with  verses 13 and 14 which describes taking a different sort of delight in the true meaning of Sabbath. Israel’s complaint in verse 3a is that their worship is not accepted, and the reason is given  in vv 3b-5. Their fast is a sham. The true meaning of fasting is shown in vv 6-7. If Israel practice this they will be accepted with rich blessings – vv 8-12. So verses 8-12 are the counter to Israel’s complaint in verse 3a.

A. 1 “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.

B. Israel’s delight in worship
2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.

C. Israel’s complaint their fast not acknowledged
3 Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

D. YHWH answers – Israel’s fast is a travesty
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the LORD?

D. The fast the YHWH desires
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressedb go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

C’. YHWH will accept Israel if they practice the true “fast”
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

B. Israel to delight in true worship
a.13 If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,

b. and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;

a’. if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure,or talking idly;

b’. 14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,

A’. for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

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