It is common for unhumbled hearts, while they perform the external services of religion,
to promise themselves acceptance with God, which He has promised only to the sincere.
God will not be cheated by hypocritical fasts and ceremonies.
Those who fast and pray, yet go on in sin, mock God and cheat themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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;
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:
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.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
13 ¶ If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Isaiah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Isaiah 58 – The Fast That God Has Chosen
The divorce between outward rites and inward piety has been the curse of every age. When the Pharisees were plotting our Lord’s death, they refused to enter Pilate’s hall. Not the bowed head, but the broken heart; not the sackcloth and ashes of the flesh, but the contrition of the soul!
Notice the three paragraphs descriptive of the experiences of the devout and consecrated soul: (1.) The conditions of blessedness, Isaiah 58:6-7. (2.) The successive items which go to make a blessed life, Isaiah 58:8-12. (3.) The true Sabbath-keeping, Isaiah 58:13-14. Primarily, it is inward, not outward. Let us be on our watch against the entrance into our hearts of all thoughts that would break the holy inward calm. Remember to imitate Nehemiah’s instructions: Nehemiah 13:16-22. Let the divine peace rule within and be as a sentinel keeping the outward gate, Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7. Cease to follow your own ways, or find your own pleasures, or speak your own words. Delight yourself in God; so shall you sit with Christ in heavenly places and feed at the heavenly table. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Isaiah 58:11—The LORD shall guide thee continually: and thou shalt be like a watered garden.
These are only a handful of the cluster of promises with which this chapter abounds. Let us ponder them; they are full of comfort. To be guided continually; to be satisfied when all the world around is athirst; to be fair and attractive to those who see us from day to day; to be as fountains of comfort and joy to the dry and weary land in which we are called to live—are not such blessings good to seek and keep? But there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled. Before we break the seal and appropriate the money within, we must be sure that our name is on the envelope, and that we are intended by the designation.
First, we must undo. If we have injured others by word or act, or if we are still doing so, we must retrace our steps, and so far as possible undo the wrong (Isaiah 58:6).
Next, we must remember the Lord’s words in Matthew 25, and be willing to minister deeds of helpful sympathy to the bodies and souls of men, as though we were doing them to Him (Isaiah 58:7).
Lastly, we must ever remember to maintain within our hearts the spirit of Sabbatic calm and peace. Not fussy, nor anxious, nor fretful and impetuous; but refraining our foot from our own paths and our hand from our own devices; refusing to find our own pleasure, and do our own works. It is only when we are fully resolved to act thus, allowing God to originate all our plans, and to work in us for their accomplishment, that we enter on our heritage of blessedness, or are brought into the enjoyment of the continual guidance and blessing of which we have spoken. Then God will delight in us, and we in Him. —Our Daily Homily