“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. 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. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 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. 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? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 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? 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, 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. 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. 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.” Isaiah 58:1-12
Isaiah is commanded to confront the hypocrisy with boldness and to clearly clarify the true path of God’s blessing:
1. The Problem (vv. 2-5) - The people were “play acting at their worship.” The worship did not represent the intent of their heart. How does one know that the worship is filled with hypocrisy and play acting?
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
2. The Solution (vv. 6-12)
“It must be remembered that the actions here in mentioned reflect the attitude of one whose heart delights in the Lord and who serves him with unfeignedness. Indeed, unless there is a true love of God in the heart, there can in reality be no true service to those who are oppressed. One can not even rightly diagnose the ills of mankind unless he has first learned their true nature from the Lord. The setting free of those whom we have wrongly oppressed only occurs when our hearts are filled with God’s love.” Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah: A Commentary, Volume 3 page 420
3. The Blessing: Anticipated and Experienced
“(Then) points out that God only answers the call of His people after they have turned from their evil ways and repented. If God showered blessings upon us while we continued to sin, we should take his blessings for granted and cease to pray for them. It is after we have awakened from the deadness of our sin that in time of need we call out to God.” Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah: A Commentary, Volume 3 page 422
- We submit to the Bible.
- We are a family.
- We serve others.
- We make disciples.
- We worship out of thanksgiving and gladness because of the underserved sheer mercy of the gospel.
- We serve out of the overflow of our heart adoration. (Mark 12:30-31)
- We serve with the expectation of God’s blessing.
- Serving others (hospitality etc.) is a primary means of impacting others with the gospel of grace.
- We are empowered by the pursuit of Christ.
“We have not got to try to climb up into spiritual life by our own efforts; it has already come down into the human race. If we will only lay ourselves open to the one Man in whom it was fully present, and who, in spite of being God, is also a real man, He will do it in us and for us.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 181
“Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, and eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, (the reality of Jesus) the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 176
1. How can you take a step deeper into servanthood into serving this generation in the name of Jesus?
2. Why do we serve out of gladness and with a spirit of expectation?
3. Why does servanthood call us to be involved in “having skin in the game”? (i.e. It needs to be costly.)
4. How should our age and stage help us to think through the issue of serving others?