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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 58

 

 

Introduction

Chapter 58. God’s Challenge To His People.

This section of Isaiah is a continual plea to Israel to turn to God from sin. If the Servant’s work is to be of any avail, and if Israel are to become His Servant, then sin must be dealt with and they must themselves come to Him in faith and obedience.

So in this chapter God calls on Isaiah, and each of His servants, to speak boldly to His people and bring home to them their true state. He points out why He is unable to respond to His people or answer their cries, and that is because the basis of their approach is false. And then He outlines the way by which they can alter the situation completely by responding to Him and living lives of righteousness, purity and goodness before Him, including the taking of delight in Yahweh Himself.


Verse 1

God’s Call To Isaiah and To Each of His Servants (Isaiah 58:1).

Isaiah 58:1

“Cry aloud, spare not,

Lift up your voice like a trumpet,

And declare to my people their transgressions,

And to the house of Jacob their sins.”

God calls on Isaiah, and on each of His messengers, to act as a town-crier in declaring openly to His people their transgressions and sins without fear or favour. They are to speak with the voice of a trumpet as God did at Sinai (Exodus 19:16). This is the God of Sinai coming to speak to His people again and call them back to the covenant. They are to bellow their message out as over a loudspeaker, and expose their rebellion and sinfulness. They are not to spare their listeners. The message is too important for that.

The basic idea behind ‘transgressions’ is rebellion. Their hearers are rebelling against the Sinai covenant. They need to be aware that their behaviour demonstrates that they are rebels against God and rebels against that covenant. The word for sin means to miss the goal, to fail to do what is right. They are missing out on their covenant responsibilities.

‘The house of Jacob.’ ‘Jacob’ is often used when the bad side is being brought out. It is the pre-transformation name. But it is also the name of the one who was chosen from birth in contrast with his brother Esau, and the name used because Isaiah has dropped the use of the name Israel once the Servant was established as ‘Israel’.

The same message came later to Ezekiel when he was warned that it he did not seek to turn the sinner from his way, he himself would be blood-guilty (Ezekiel 33:8). And it is equally true today.


Verse 2-3

The Failing Response of the People (Isaiah 58:2-3 a)

Isaiah 58:2-3

“Yet it is me they seek daily,

And delight to know my ways.

As a nation which did righteousness,

And did not forsake the judgment of their God.

They ask of me the judgments of righteousness,

They delight to draw near to God.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see not?

Why have we afflicted our soul, and you do not notice it?’ ”

This is recognising the people’s response. It was their outward view of themselves. They cannot understand what the problem is, for they saw themselves as behaving satisfactorily, because they had no discernment. This was their claim:

1) They seek Him daily through the daily sacrifices and ministrations.

2) They are concerned to carry out all proper religious practises.

3) They make a great demonstration of maintaining justice by utilising the God-appointed means.

4) They fast and indulge in self-affliction at crucial times.

This being so, how can Yahweh be disappointed with them? We must analyse the claims in more depth.

‘Yet it is Me that they seek daily.’ They see themselves as those who seek Yahweh, andHimespecially (the ‘Me’ is stressed), and do it daily. After all they assiduously offer the daily sacrifices and go through the daily ministrations. They offer the morning and evening sacrifices. Compare Isaiah 1:12-15.

‘And delight to know my ways.’ They considered that because they utilised God-appointed means of establishing justice and listened to the priests and prophets attached to the temple, this was all that could be required of them. Did it not demonstrate that they delighted in His ways? They want all to recognise that it is their great joy to seek to know Yahweh’s will, especially in matters of justice.

‘As (if they were) a nation which did righteousness, and did not forsake the judgment of their God. They ask of me judgments of righteousness, they delight to draw near to God.’ They behaved as though they were a truly righteous nation, one that wanted to know Yahweh’s will. But all the time it was nothing but outward show. No one could criticise their careful attention to religious detail. They did everything the cult required. They followed the means. All that was true, but their hearts were not in it. It was not a genuine seeking of Yahweh.

‘They ask of me judgments of righteousness.’ They were even assiduous in seeking His judgment on things, possibly by use of the Urim and the Thummim, or by use of the lot (both of which could be manipulated). Indeed they give the appearance of delighting to draw near to God for this purpose to discover His ways. They sought to give the impression that they were a righteous nation, that they ‘did righteousness’, and that they were assiduous in seeking justice by God-appointed means, and they made a great outward show of it.

An outsider would surely have been impressed by their cultic observance and their concern to seek God’s judgment on things and their apparently careful attention to finding His will. But the problem was that as far as He was concerned it was all a pretence. In His eyes it was an outward show of religious activity and justice that was not true at heart. For along with what they claimed the worship in the high places continued, people were still not treated fairly in the courts, and their behaviour to each other, both in business and private matters, continued to be abysmal. They drew near to Him with their mouths but their hearts were far from Him.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see not? Why have we afflicted our soul, and you do not notice it?’ The people were surprised and offended at the suggestion that they were anything but righteous. Did they not do everything that was required of them? (Compare Isaiah 1:11-15). As well as daily ordinances, and a proper seeking of justice, they also keep their fasts and indulge in self-abasement. What more did God want?

But this was in fact the problem. They saw God as Someone to be manipulated by their religious endeavours, by their outward show. They considered that if they engaged in the right rituals God would be forced to respond. What they overlooked was that God was concerned about the fact that they were failing to live rightly and were not observing the details of the covenant in their daily lives, and especially about how they were behaving in their personal relationships with each other. They were not loving their neighbour as they loved themselves.

The basic sinfulness of man comes out in this attitude to religion. In his blindness He sees God as Someone Who has certain requirements, and as long as he fulfils those he considers that God should therefore gratefully respond. When they wanted Baal to bring about the fruitfulness of their crops, or Asherah to ensure fertility, they indulged in free and unrestrained sex before their images. That was what inspired such gods to act. But they knew that Yahweh was a severe God. So their approach was different. Before Him they fasted, went without food and afflicted themselves (compare Judges 20:26; 2 Chronicles 20:3; 2 Samuel 12:16; 2 Samuel 12:22-23; 1 Kings 21:27). Molech was a tough god and was called on when things were hard, and they then passed their children through his fires, assuming that the sacrifice would persuade him to act also on their behalf. Each was to be persuaded to act by different approaches. They considered that they had a well rounded religious viewpoint.

But what they overlooked with Yahweh was that He was not that kind of God. He was not a God among others. He was not a God Who had to be persuaded to act. He was not a God easily impressed by outward show. He was Yahweh, the only God, ‘the God Who is there’. He was the God Who was always active. He was the God Who wanted to respond with love to those who loved Him (like Abraham did - Isaiah 41:8). He was the God Who required from them genuineness of heart. And because of that He was continually concerned with every aspect of their lives, and took account of their everyday behaviour. He looked behind the religious facade. He was the covenant God, and true daily righteousness in every aspect of life resulting from their love for Him and for righteousness was expressedly an important part of the covenant (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 6:5). (This was in contrast, for example, to Baal who was not seen as concerned with their behaviour. How could he be? It was pretty much like his own purported behaviour anyway).


Verse 3-4

“Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,

And you oppress all those who labour on your behalf,

Behold you fast for strife and contention,

And to smite with the fist of wickedness.

You do not fast as you do this day

So as to make your voice heard on high.”

God replies to their claims. Their fasting is hypocritical, for while engaging in it they go out of their way to find their own pleasure. It is half-hearted. This suggests that it was often a formal fast without being too strictly observed, or without being too demanding. Furthermore their claims to exercise fair judgments is not true. Instead their behaviour is abominable. Even while outwardly fasting and appearing humble they oppress their workers, they involve themselves in strife and court action in every aspect of life, and they behave with unreasonable and sin-inspired violence. They are as far from ‘truly just’ as it is possible to be. Indeed they use the time of their fast for these very purposes.

Thus any seeming merit in their fasting is lost in view of their attitude to life and its resulting behaviour. This kind of fasting will not result in their voice being heard by God.

Fasting is a feature of religion in any age. Where it results in a genuine seeking after God Himself it can be beneficial. But it can easily deteriorate into being seen as a means of putting God under an obligation so that He has to respond, or of impressing men with one’s holiness.

There is no need to see these as official fasts. Indeed the idea is that they occurred continually in the every day course of life, as did their sins that accompanied them. It may well be that such regular days of fasting had become the fashion in Isaiah’s troubled times, due to the outward threat of Assyria, as they did later with the Pharisees.


Verse 5

“Is it such a fast that I have chosen?

The day for a man to afflict his person?

Is it to bow down his head as a rush?

And to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?

Will you call this a fast?

And an acceptable day to Yahweh?”

Yahweh denounces the kind of fasting they were engaging in. (It bears all the marks of the way the worst of the Pharisees fasted (Matthew 6:16)). They afflicted their persons, they bowed their heads in false humility like a rush bows before the wind, they spread sackcloth and ashes underneath them, they wanted all to see that they were fasting. And they meanwhile engaged in their unjust and sinful behaviour. But such a day of fasting is not acceptable to Yahweh. It is a travesty of the ‘acceptable year’ of God’s deliverance (Isaiah 61:2).


Verses 6-14

The Call To Covenant Righteousness (Isaiah 58:6-14).

Isaiah 58:6-7

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen,

To loose the bonds of wickedness,

To undo the bands of the yoke,

And to let the oppressed go free,

And that you break every yoke?

Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry,

And that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house?

When you see the naked that you cover him,

And that you do not hide yourself from your own flesh?”

This is rather God’s approved way of fasting. Helping men to free themselves from their sins, working for social justice, obtaining freedom for the oppressed, breaking every yoke that binds men, feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless, clothing the poor, and being available to comfort and succour others.

‘Loose the bonds of wickedness.’ ‘Bonds of wickedness’ could refer to ‘bonds which are evil’, such as men being tied in by unfair business contracts, or harsh work contracts, or by the misuse of authority, or it may apply literally to wickedness seen as something that binds men. Either way it concerns the giving of freedom for those who are bound (see Isaiah 61:1).

‘Undo the bands of the yoke.’ The yoke was put on oxen in order for them to work together. It meant that they were under control, and submissive, that their every movement was determined. But applying the same principle to men was to put on them an excessive burden and was a restriction of freedom. The thought here is therefore of releasing men from burdens of life, from oppression and from being treated like animals (see Leviticus 26:13; Ezekiel 34:27)

‘To let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke.’ This would literally indicate the freeing of bondmen unfairly held, and of prisoners put in prison by oppressive action, who were undeserving of such punishment. And also possibly of releasing men from onerous debts. It could include the delivery of men by wise judges from oppressive action. To ‘break every yoke’ includes the thought of delivering men from anything that prevents them from living in freedom and blessing. The whole emphasis is on compassion and freedom.

Providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless and clothing for those with insufficient is ever seen as the responsibility of God’s people. ‘Own flesh’ probably has relatives in mind and indicates the responsibility of a family to ensure that relatives do not go in need or without comfort.

Isaiah 58:8

“Then will your light break forth as the morning,

And your healing will spring forth speedily,

And your Righteousness will go before you,

The glory of Yahweh will be your rearguard.”

It is if they do these things that God will hear them and respond, with the result that light will break in on them, they will enjoy full well-being, and they will be protected to the rear (from those acting behind their backs) by His glory .

Reference to light breaking forth probably has in mind the coming deliverance which will be hastened by godly response (Isaiah 60:1), but also includes the idea of blessing in the shorter term (Isaiah 2:5; Isaiah 8:20). Jesus would tell His disciples that they must let their light shine before men, that they may see their good works and glorify their Father Who was in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Reference to healing springing forth refers to the same. Such light and healing is always the product of godly and truly charitable living. The reference to righteousness going before, and Yahweh taking up the rear, probably has in mind the pillar of fire and cloud which during the journey through the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt represented the presence and protection of Yahweh over His people (compare Isaiah 4:5; Isaiah 52:12). Those who walk in God’s ways will enjoy a new Exodus, and their righteousness, and the righteousness imputed to them (Isaiah 53:11), will go before them as their guide and protector, while Yahweh Himself will protect the rear. Every generation can enjoy a new Exodus.

It may be that in this context ‘your Righteousness’, portrayed as an active person, is intended to be an indicator of the Servant, the One Who provided righteousness for them (Isaiah 53:11). He Who was their righteousness went before them. For elsewhere it is Yahweh Who goes before and behind (Isaiah 52:12).

As we recognise that Isaiah’s vision of the future was of a wide scope, including all God’s saving activity through the centuries, all seen as one, so do we see these promises as applying to the Old Testament elect, and then to the true church of Jesus Christ and then to the final acceptance into glory. Light will continually break forth for the righteous; healing, especially of the soul, will be their lot; they will be protected by the righteousness of God and of Christ, and God will watch over their backs.

Light is the opposite of darkness (Isaiah 5:20), and includes the idea of life as a light (Psalms 27:1; Psalms 36:9). They will enjoy God’s life at work within them. The days of darkness will pass from His own, and the way before them become illuminated by God’s illumination (Isaiah 42:16; Isaiah 51:4). Light will come to them through the Davidic king and the Servant (Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6).

Righteousness here gains its meaning from deliverance in righteousness (e.g. Isaiah 45:24-25; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 53:11; Isaiah 56:1), and stresses that the man who experiences God’s righteous deliverance and thus becomes righteous (Isaiah 48:18) will be protected by that righteousness, the very righteousness of God (Isaiah 54:17), a righteousness provided by the Servant (Isaiah 53:11), which goes before men, protecting and guiding them (Isaiah 52:12). It is very much an active, protecting righteousness, indicating the presence of the Righteous One and the Redeemer (Isaiah 52:12).

Isaiah 58:9

“Then will you call, and Yahweh will answer,

You will cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am’.”

The one who lives righteously as in Isaiah 58:6-7 will find that Yahweh will hear His prayer and will be available to him. God will respond to his every cry. And the same is true of the nation. Let them but become truly righteous and their cry will reach the ear of God. Once again we discover that there is no promise in Scripture that God will answer men’s prayers in general, but only that He will hear the cry of the truly righteous and of the truly repentant (Jonah 3:5-10). But to them comes the assurance that His ear is always open to their cry when it is genuinely for what is pleasing to Yahweh. He will say to them, ‘Here I am’.

Isaiah 58:9-12

“If you take away from the midst of you the yoke,

The putting forth of the finger and speaking wickedly,

And if you draw out your soul to the hungry,

And satisfy the afflicted soul,

Then will your light rise in darkness,

And your obscurity be as the noonday,

And Yahweh will guide you continually,

And satisfy your soul in sun-scorched lands, and make strong your bones,

And you will be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water whose waters fail not.

And those who are of you will build the old waste places,

You will raise up the foundations of many generations,

And you will be called, the Repairer of the Breach,

The Restorer of paths to dwell in.”

These verses split into two halves, the condition and the result. The condition describes what God requires of those who serve Him. They are to seek to free men from burdens, they must never point the finger unjustly or unnecessarily or in contempt, they must never distort the truth. They are to reach out to the hungry, and to bring comfort to the afflicted, meeting their deepest needs. The ‘pointing finger’ refers to any method of making suggestions about others to diminish their reputations unfairly, whether by word, action or innuendo. It can also signify pointing in contempt. Speaking wickedly refers to lies, half-truths, gossip and unfounded accusations, or deliberately seeking to cause trouble by malicious words.

‘Draw out your soul to the hungry’ includes more than just charity. ‘Drawing out’ indicates an active concern and a willingness to give of oneself in order to satisfy their needs. ‘Satisfying the afflicted soul’ means going out of your way to ensure that such needy souls are comforted and provided for in every way. Both thoughts have a stress on self-giving.

The result of such living to God will be that light will come in the darkness, and the equivalent of the removal of mist by the noonday sun will result. Such people will enjoy His light and His blessing, and darkness and obscurity will be removed. When men begin to find faith difficult, and the light dims, the cause can usually be traced to deliberate sin.

‘And Yahweh will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in sun-scorched places, and make strong your bones, and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.’ God will also guide such people continually. Even when they go through arid and dry patches their souls will be satisfied from an inner spring. The word used for ‘sun-scorched’ is used only here . Its base meaning is ‘white’. So it is probably literally ‘sun-scorched (excessively white) lands’, i.e. the desert. He will ‘make their bones strong’. The bones represent the whole man. They are a man’s frame, they are what holds him together (Psalms 51:8).

And they will be like a watered garden, continually refreshed and fruitful, and filled with flowers and fruit, and like a perennial spring that never fails, thus constantly refreshed and someone from whom others can drink.

So the truly righteous man will find light in the darkness, satisfaction in the deserts of life, strength in his bones and continual spiritual refreshment, and will be a source of refreshment to others.

‘And those who are of you will build the old waste places, you will raise up the foundations of many generations.’ The final blessing for the righteous man is continuation into the future and the production of a seed who will continue to bring blessing to mankind. These will build the old waste places, those places which have been wasted through God’s judgments. For they will be of the remnant who survive, and will be holy (Isaiah 4:3). There is no reason for seeing this as applying only to Jerusalem (compare Isaiah 1:7). The emphasis is on restoration of all that has been devastated. ‘The foundations of many generations’ may be another way of describing the ‘old waste places’, that is they are what many generations in the past have founded. These will be raised up by his seed. Or it may indicate the foundations of cities for future generations.

‘And you will be called, the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of paths to dwell in.’ ‘Repairing the breach’ meant building up the walls, ‘restoring the paths for dwellings’ referred to making the cities habitable. They will be responsible for the new beginning as thought of in Old Testament terms.

It is a good thing for a man to be seen as one who repairs breaches, who makes life secure for others, who restores for them the possibility of good living conditions, both literally and spiritually.

As ever this prophecy covered the whole future. Isaiah is enunciating a principle. Such righteous men of faith restored broken down cities in the time of Josiah, and later rebuilt Jerusalem and the other cities of the land, establishing Israel as a power in the land. The New Testament church rebuilt Israel anew, formed of both Jews and Gentiles, resulting in a spiritual city to which men could come to find life, peace and security (Isaiah 26:1-4). For the stress is on the fact that these people made a way for all the people of God, and helped to build them up and make them strong. The righteous are still building today.

Isaiah 58:13-14

“If you turn away your foot from the sabbath,

From doing your pleasure on my holy day,

And call the sabbath a delight,

And the holy of Yahweh, honourable,

And you will honour it, not doing your own ways,

Nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words,

Then you will delight yourself in Yahweh,

And I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth,

And I will cause you to feed with the heritage of Jacob your father,

For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.”

Three things are directly described by Yahweh as holy. In Isaiah 56:7 we have had God’s holy mountain which was connected with His house of prayer, in Isaiah 57:15 we have the high and holy place where Yahweh, Whose name is Holy, dwells with those who are of a contrite spirit. Here now we have Yahweh’s holy day. Note that they are called holyby Yahwehand all bring about a connection between heaven and earth. They are the sacred means on earth by which His people can contact Him in Heaven (1 Kings 8:27-49). All this connects with Isaiah’s vision of the threefold holy God in Isaiah 6, and with His constant use of the title The Holy One of Israel.

This is Isaiah’s third item in his list of ‘if you’ clauses (see also Isaiah 58:9-10). It reiterates the special importance of the Sabbath in God’s scheme of things, re-emphasising what has been said in Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 56:4; Isaiah 56:6. But again the emphasis is on a positive view of the Sabbath. It is a day to delight in, it is honourable, and the emphasis seems to be not so much on avoiding work on the Sabbath, but as on doing God’s ways, seeking God’s pleasure and using our words positively for God, possibly in prayer, song, worship and teaching the Scriptures. This is expressed by negating the doing of their own ways, finding their own pleasure, and speaking their own words. This will result in their delighting themselves in Yahweh, and in riding on the high places of the earth, and in enjoying the heritage of Jacob. (Note the Isaianic trilogies).

It is true, of course, that the negatives could be interpreted as saying ‘don’t do these three things, do nothing’, but such an idea is not stated and the movements from ‘not doing your own pleasure’ to ‘calling the Sabbath a delight’, and from ‘not finding your own pleasure’ to ‘delighting in Yahweh’ and ‘riding on the high places of the earth’ suggest that a genuine positive movement is to be detected. The reason for revealing the idea by using negatives would seem to be in order to avoid the suggestion of concurring with the doing of something physical, which men could then use as an excuse for all kinds of things. It would also save Isaiah from criticism by extremists. It would seem that it was this positive aspect which was partly in Jesus’ mind when He performed His healings on the Sabbath day.

‘If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day.’ The first stage is to turn the foot way from ‘doing your own pleasure’. This is because it is a day separated to Yahweh, not just ‘a holy day’ but ‘My holy day’. It is His personal concern and is holy to Him, and therefore not for profane use. Thus all done in it should be concerned with Yahweh’s pleasure, and that alone.

‘And call the sabbath a delight, and the holy (day) of Yahweh honourable.’ The second stage is to see it as a delight and as honourable. To be a delight there must be something positive intended from it. It was a feast day and not a fast day (although the food had to be prepared the day before), and it was a day when men and women should delight themselves in Yahweh (Isaiah 58:14). It is honourable because it is worthy of honour precisely because it is Yahweh’s holy day.

‘And you will honour it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.’ The day was to be honoured as His holy day by nothing profane being done in it. All self-indulgence and self-will was to be excluded from it, and there was to be no idle chit-chat, discussions on business matters, or gossip. Conversations were to be centred on the things of God. The exclusions, however, point to the inclusions. That what was honouring to Yahweh, or pleasant to Yahweh or words involved in the worship of Yahweh, were all to be permitted seems to be understood. But to put that too positively might have been seen as encouraging people to find a way round the Sabbath law and that could not be allowed. God was determined to preserve total rest for all servants, women, and slaves. (The great boon to all such of the Sabbath day must never be overlooked).

‘Then you will delight yourself in Yahweh, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will cause you to feed with the heritage of Jacob your father.’ Three positives contrast with the three negatives. The first is that they might delight themselves in Yahweh. This would seem to include worship and prayer and the singing of holy songs. It would also seem to allow the reading of the Law and probably teaching on it. And probably also helpful and spiritual homilies. It ensured that time was give for the education of the spirit.

The second is that they will be caused to ride on the high places of the earth. A similar phrase is found in Deuteronomy 32:13 (see also Deuteronomy 33:29; Ezekiel 36:2). Amos 4:13; Micah 1:3 have ‘tread upon the high places of the earth’ speaking of Yahweh. The reference in Deuteronomy 32:13 seems to indicate Israel taking triumphant possession of the mountains of Israel (compare Amos 4:13; Micah 1:3 where it is Yahweh confirming His possession of the high places of the earth). Thus this seems to be saying that those who truly honour the Sabbath and the Lord of the Sabbath will triumph over God’s inheritance. They will inherit the promises and possess the fruitful mountains (Ezekiel 36:8). In other words they will possess their God-promised inheritance in peace and safety.

(Those who insist on pedantically literalising these promises about the land on the basis that God must do be tied down to doing exactly what He has promised, ignoring intention, fail to recognise that if we promise our children a ride on the swings and then instead take them to Disney land, we are more than fulfilling our promise, for we have fulfilled the spirit of it. God’s promised inheritance was in terms they could understand at the time. Its literal finalisation will be in terms beyond their wildest imagination. Note how this fact is illustrated in Hebrews 11:10-14)

The third is that Yahweh will cause them to feed on the heritage of Jacob their father. So they will not only possess the mountains but will feed on the heritage passed down to them by promise. They will be amply supplied by God.

As before we can recognise that there is a threefold fulfilment. This happened literally in the centuries after the exile, it happened spiritually through the ministry of Jesus, and it will happen over-abundantly in the new heaven and the new earth when God brings all to conclusion.

‘For the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it.’ This will all surely happen because God has said it and will bring it about.

Note on Israel.

It will be noted that Israel is now no longer called ‘Israel’ but is continually described in terms of ‘Jacob’ or of ‘Zion’. In fact once the Servant has been called ‘Israel’ (Isaiah 49:3) and it is affirmed that He as Israel will bring ‘the preserved of Israel’ back to Him, to become a part of the Servant (Isaiah 49:5-6), the name ‘Israel’ only appears in 50-66 genitivally except for the reference in Isaiah 63:16 where Israel the Patriarch is in mind. See on that passage. This may be seen as confirming that once ‘Israel’ had come to its culmination in the One Who represented it as only He could (Isaiah 49:3; Matthew 2:15), Isaiah wished to draw attention to this by ceasing to use the name. In Him Israel has come to its fulfilment in the Servant.

End of note.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 58:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/isaiah-58.html. 2013.

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