Isaiah 58



GIVEN WITH RESPECT TO FASTING. As in the last section, so here,

the prophet’s eye seems to rest upon his contemporaries rather than upon

the exiles; and to note the vices of the time, which have a general

resemblance to those rebuked in ch. 1. The whole Law seems to be in

force, and the People to make a show of keeping it, and to complain that

they are not properly rewarded for their religiousness. God tears the mask

from their face, and shows the difference between true religion and the

pretence of it.



v. 1 – “Cry aloud…lift up thy voice like a trumpet….show my people

            their transgression”


v.2 – “They seek me daily” and delight to know my ways (compare

the picture drawn in Isaiah 1:11-15). We have there exactly the same

representation of a people honoring God with their lips, but whose hearts

are far from Him — zealous in all the outward forms of religion, even

making “many prayers” (Isaiah 1:15), but yet altogether an offence to

God. They are not conscious hypocrites — quite the reverse; they are bent

on “doing righteousness,” on not forsaking God’s ordinance, on

continually “approaching” Him; but they are wholly without a proper sense

of what religion is — they make it a matter of outward observance, and do

not understand that it consists in the devotion of the heart.


v. 3 – “Afflicted our soul” – These are the exact words of Leviticus 16:29, 31,

by which the fast of the great Day of Atonement was instituted “And thou

takest no knowledge” ; rather, no notice. In the day of your fast ye find

pleasure. Delitzsch and Mr. Cheyne render, “ye carry on business,” which

accords better with the clause which follows. The great Day of Atonement was,

like the sabbath, a day on which no work was to be done (Leviticus 16:29).  The

Jews, while priding themselves on their observance of the day, did not really

observe it in this particular. “And exact all your labours; i.e. “require of

your servants and subordinates all the services that they have to render on

other days.” Days of religious observance, even under the Law, were

always intended to be days of kindly forbearance towards the poor, of the

remission of burdens, or even of the actual giving of relief.


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v. 4 - "the fist of wickedness" - “When fasting, they are doubly irritable

            and ill tempered; and this leads to quarrelling and strife, even

            to striking with angry fists.” This is quite a possible explanation.

            Or there may have been two parties, one for, the other against,

            fasting; and those who practised fasting may have done it, as

            to provoke the opposite side.



v. 5 – the fast according to man’s idea


vs. 6-7 – the fast of the Lord’s prescription –


  • “loose the bands of wickedness”
  • “undo heavy burdens”
  • “free the oppressed”
  • “deal thy bread to the hungry”
  • “house the poor”
  • “cover the naked”


v. 8 - the glory of the Lord will be your rearguard!! – the glory which

            He will confer on thee, will follow thee and be as it were thy

            rearguard – compare ch. 50:12


vs. 9-10 - a repetition of righteous acts and the blessings of the Lord


v. 11 - "the Lord shall guide thee continually" – direct thee in all thy



"Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:  it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" - Jeremiah 10:23


v. 12 – “They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places

Thy descendants shall restore all that has fallen into decay in Israel,

whether it be cities or customs. They shall restore “breaches” of every

kind, and bring back the old paths for thee to walk in.











ENJOINED. While the fasting of the day only required to be spiritualized,

the sabbath observance needed both spiritualizing and increased strictness.

From 2 Chronicles 36:21 we learn that the sabbatical years had been

little observed during the later Jewish kingdom; and it would seem from

the present passage (comp. Jeremiah 17:21-23) that even the

observance of the sabbath itself had been neglected. Not that the neglect

was total. The sacrifices proper to the sabbath were duly offered — the

solemn assembly” was duly called and attended (Isaiah 1:13); but

during the rest of the day business flowed in its usual course — the

complete sanctification of the entire day was set aside. We find a similar

laxity prevalent after the return from the Captivity (Nehemiah 10:31;




vs. 13-14


It is "by business" and not pleasure that the sabbath

was polluted - Jer. 17:21-23, 27


They pursued their secular occupations on the sabbath

day as they pleased  - they bought and sold, carried their

corn, trod the winepress, conveyed commodities from

place to place and engaged in every form of traffic

and merchandise  - Neh. 13:15-16


Abortion, desecration of the sabbath, a turned back

on theTen Commandments, obsession with separation

of church and state  - are all connected with America's

decline and is speedily ushering us into JUDGMENT!


II Chron. 36:21**** - for the length of the CAPTIVITY!


"the sabbath a delight" - to call and feel it a

delight - a real satisfaction to the soul and not a



A right use of the sabbath will help to form in men

habits of devotion which will make religion a joy

and delight to them!!!


God's people should look forward to their sabbaths

as times of refreshment and of "joy in the Lord"  -

as oases in the wilderness of life, glimpses and foretastes

of Heaven.


The sabbath was intended to be the crown of the

week, the special day "which the Lord hath made

and we should "rejoice and be glad in it" - Ps. 118:24


I will give thee a prominent position in the earth

and cause thee to occupy its high places and bear

rule over many nations


Israel having laid aside formalism and turned to

God sincerely would enter upon the promised

heritage and occupy the position originally

assigned to it!!


"for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it"