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 58:11
When I was in college, a fellow student shared with me how Jesus Christ died so painfully for my sins. At that moment God broke my heart. My friend prayed with me and the Lord saved me!
That was a wonderful experience, but I knew very little about how to live a Christian life. I did not have a clear understanding of Bible doctrine and those I associated with taught me things that I now know were incorrect. I was informed that I sinned every day, and so I needed to ask forgiveness every day for my sins. Because of this, I made many poor choices. Temptations were all around me on the campus, and I figured that I would just ask forgiveness later for the sin I was about to commit. Although this sounds ridiculous now, it is easy to justify sin if you do not know that God’s power can help you live without it.
I am thankful that the Lord was faithful to guide me to a family who believed the whole Bible and in living a holy life without sin. What I saw in their home impressed me. They invited me to attend church with them, and there I heard more testimonies of God’s power to help a person live a victorious life. The Lord helped me to see the truth in this and taught me the right way to go. One day I yielded my heart to Him again, and He gave me an ongoing satisfaction and peace in my life that I had never known before. What a relief it was not to have to struggle with sin any longer!
In our focus verse, God promised the Israelites that He would continually guide and abundantly satisfy them if they would meet His conditions. This chapter contrasts hypocritical fasts with true acts of devotion.
God wants us to serve Him out of our love for Him. When we are obedient to Him because we want to please Him, we, too, will find that He will guide us into truth and His blessings will be poured out on our lives in abundance. In turn, those blessings will then be channeled through us to others “like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” That in itself is enough to make our hearts overflow with love and gratitude to our Savior!
In Chapter 58, the prophet denounced empty religious sanctimony. His cry was against sin and was a plea for the restoration of true worship in Israel.
The first four verses described the condition of Israel at that time related to their worship practices. God told the prophet to “cry aloud” — to verbally sound a loud, clear warning to the people because of their hypocrisy in worship and the practice of fasting. The people were self-righteously following all of the religious motions and mechanics of worship, but their actions were nothing but empty ritual because their motives were impure — they wanted to impress God with their fasting. At the same time, they were contending and debating with each other.
In verses 5-7, God instructed Israel about a proper fast, one that is selfless and from the heart. The prophet asked a series of rhetorical questions through which he presented the characteristics of a fast that God would bless. The people needed to understand that more important than correct forms of worship was genuine compassion for the poor, the helpless, and the oppressed.
Verses 8-12 described the blessings that would result to those who would meet God’s conditions. This series of promises was climaxed by an ultimate promise of revival and restoration.
The “putting forth of the finger” mentioned in verse 9 was a gesture of contempt, and it signified pointing an accusatory finger of spiritual superiority at others. The phrase “they that shall be of thee” in verse 12 indicated that the descendants of those to whom Isaiah was preaching would one day rebuild the destroyed city of Jerusalem.
In the final two verses, the prophet reminded the people once more of God’s conditions. The conditions were grouped into three categories: man’s responsibility toward God, man’s responsibility toward others, and man’s responsibility regarding the Sabbath. If the people would obey God in these areas, they would enjoy God’s covenant blessings.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
C. The provision for deliverance (future glory)
1. The need for deliverance
a. Their hypocritical worship (58:1-14)
(1) Their false worship (58:1-5)
(2) The nature of true worship (58:6-12)
(a) Its nature (58:6-7)
(b) Its reward (58:8-12)
(3) The proper use of the Sabbath (58:13-14)
We too are assured of God’s guidance and provision if we will meet God’s conditions and serve Him with a true heart!