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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Isaiah 58

 

 

Verses 1-14

Explanation of True Righteousness under the Mosaic Law- Isaiah 58:1-14 shows us that the Mosaic Law had been forsaken by the children of Israel. They were religious, with their golden calves built by Jeroboam, and their temple rituals, but their heart was far from God. In Isaiah 58:1-5 God reproves them for their false religious duties. They were making sacrifices to the Lord, but they had lost the true meaning of righteousness. In Isaiah 58:6-7 the Lord explains to them the meaning of true righteousness, much as Jesus did in His Sermon on the Mount to the New Testament Jews who were confused by the religious Pharisees. In these two verses, God summaries the heart of the Mosaic Law by telling them to love their neighbor. Finally, in Isaiah 58:8-14 the Lord repeats the blessings of the Law which Moses gave in Deuteronomy 28.

Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

Isaiah 58:2 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.

Isaiah 58:3 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.

Isaiah 58:3 — "Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?" - Comments- This question is answered in the next part of this verse, and also in Isaiah 59:1.

Isaiah 59:1-2, "Behold, the LORD"S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."

The phrase "we have afflicted our soul" is found a number of times in the Old Testament ( Leviticus 16:29; Leviticus 16:31; Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 23:29; Leviticus 23:32, Numbers 29:7, Isaiah 58:3; Isaiah 58:5; Isaiah 58:10). It is generally understood to mean to abstain from food and drink, as well as "wearing sackcloth, mourning, and prayer," as described in Psalm 35:13, "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom." 84]

84] John E. Hartley, Leviticus, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol 4, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 30b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2004), notes on Leviticus 16:29-31.

Isaiah 58:4 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.

Isaiah 58:5 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?

Isaiah 58:5 — "and an acceptable day to the LORD" - Comments- Compare this phrase to the phrase which is about to be used in Isaiah 61:2.

Isaiah 61:2, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;"

Isaiah 58:6-9 — The Fast that God has Chosen- Comments- Compare Isaiah 58:6-9 to Isaiah 61:1-3. The nation of Israel had not been letting the captives go free; rather, they had been bringing the people into bondage; but Jesus will come and set the captives free.

Isaiah 58:6 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?

Isaiah 58:7 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?

Isaiah 58:8 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.

Isaiah 58:8Comments- This was a nation of sick people. The opening chapter gives a description of a nation that was sick from head to toe ( Isaiah 1:5-6). In addition, the nation had fallen into poverty and oppression ( Isaiah 1:7-8).

Isaiah 1:5-6, "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."

During the time of Isaiah the prophet, the nation of Israel was living in deception. They kept their religious practices ( Isaiah 58:2-3), but were confused as to why they found no deliverance. Even their fastings were of no value in God's eyes ( Isaiah 58:4). This is because their hearts were filled with sin and they mistreated their neighbours. Jesus described the Pharisees as "whited sepulchers" ( Matthew 23:27), and this is an accurate description of such a people. They performed their religious duties, but mistreated one another from a sinful heart.

Isaiah 58:9 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;

Isaiah 58:9 — "the putting forth of the finger" - Scripture Reference- Note a similar phrase:

Proverbs 6:13, "He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;"

Isaiah 58:10 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:

Isaiah 58:11 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.

Isaiah 58:11Comments- If we will seek the Lord with a pure heart, He will always with us, even in times of drought, which represent the trials of this life. In this world of evil, it is easy for the child of God to become frustrated and even angry because of persecutions and jealous at the prosperity of the wicked. In order to live with peace within our hearts, we must learn to cast our cares upon Him, and trust that He will take care of us and bring us through every trial into a place of blessing and prosperity. Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

"Behold, My hand is upon thee to bless thee and to accomplish all My good purpose. For this hour I have prepared thy heart; and in My kindness I will not let thee fail. Only relinquish all things into My hands; for I can work freely only as ye release Me by complete committal - both of thyself and others. Even as was written of old: ‘Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass' ( Psalm 37:5). I will be thy sustaining strength; and My peace shall garrison thy mind. Only trust Me - that all I do is done in Love. For adversities must of necessity come. They are part of the pattern of life's pilgrimage for every individual; and who can escape them? But I say unto thee, that for those who walk in Me, and for those who are encircled by the intercessory prayers of My children, I shall make of the suffering, yea, I shall make of the trials a steppingstone to future blessing." 85]

85] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 63.

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Isaiah 58:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/isaiah-58.html. 2013.

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