Bible: What Does Isaiah 58-63 Teach Us About Worship, Sin, and Messiah's Kingdom?
What part do works play in our salvation?
Worship and Good Works
Proper Spiritual Worship: Fasting and Good Works
Yahweh commands Isaiah to preach loudly against Israel's perversion (v. 1).
While acknowledging the nation's religiosity, He nonetheless finds their worship wanting because they perform these spiritual duties with fleshly motives (vv. 2-4).
Israel misconstrues the divinely chosen fast as asceticism, as a day of repentance (v. 5).
God, however, originally designed the fast to elicit good deeds from men, especially for the benefit of their society's “unfortunates” (vv. 6-7).
These "righteousnesses" bring spiritual healing, protection, and power through the LORD's intervention (vv. 8-9a).
By eliminating religious burdens from people (v. 9b-10a), good works can open a door to divine blessings, including guidance, vitality, and renewed community involvement (vv. 11-12).
Keeping the Sabbath properly—which involves honoring God by not seeking worldly pleasures—can result in further blessing (vv. 13-14).
The Blind Leading the Blind
The Result of Sin
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Israel's Spiritual and Moral Blindness
In answer to Israel's complaint about God's seeming reluctance to save them come Isaiah's poignant words regarding the people's problem (vv. 1-2; cf. 58:3).
They claim that He is deficient in power when, in reality, the fault is their own.
The prophet designates this shortcoming as their “iniquities” and their “sins,” then points out to them a litany of their immoral behavior: from murder and lying (v. 3), to unrighteousness and mistrust (v. 4). And all these false ways beget even more sin (v. 5).
[Notice the change from second to third person (see vv. 3, 4) and then from third to first (see vv. 8-9)].
He discusses how violence plays a major role in their evil deeds (vv. 6-7), and how their ways do not lead to peace (v. 8; cf. 57:21).
[The apostle Paul borrows this list as part of his proof that all men are sinners (Rom. 3:15-17)].
With sin comes spiritual and moral blindness; the people lose their sense of justice, righteousness and truth.
Isaiah includes himself with the sin-plagued nation; even though not personally culpable for blatant sin, he also experiences the LORD's chastening (vv. 9-12).
The people cry in vain for deliverance; they know their sin has caused separation from God. Specifying apostasy and falsehood as their primary transgressions, Isaiah confesses to God on behalf of the nation (vv. 13-15).
Yahweh “wonders” at their lack of justice and want of an intercessor (vv. 15b-16a).
His Messiah will come armed in warrior gear (vv. 16b-17; cf. Eph. 6:10 ff), and will repay His enemies (v. 18).
The whole earth will fear Him (v. 19); He will save His people, and give them His Spirit and His word (vv. 20-21).
Salvation Through Calvary
Salvation for Gentiles; Glory for Israel
After a deep, worldwide darkness, the LORD visits Israel and glorifies her; many saved Gentiles also gather themselves to Jerusalem (vv. 1-3).
Apparently, Isaiah saw these events in terms of material prosperity for Israel:
(1) the return of their children (v. 4),
(2) Gentile wealth and marine commerce (v. 5),
(3) great numbers of camels bearing riches and
(4) flocks becoming sacrifices (vv. 6-7).
Ships will carry sons and riches to God (vv. 8-9). Foreigners will serve Israel because of the LORD's favor upon that nation (v. 10).
Their choice remains either to submit to the new arrangement, or be destroyed (vv. 11-12).
Lebanese wood will beautify the temple and its grounds (v. 13), and nations that formerly persecuted Israel will serve God's people instead (v. 14).
Yahweh will reverse the fortunes in the world; the wealth of other nations will bless Israel, and Israel will recognize his Redeemer (vv. 15-16).
Peace, righteousness, salvation, and praise will envelop the land (vv. 17-18), and God will provide all their needs (vv. 19-20).
That He may receive all the glory, the LORD will cause elect Israel to experience salvation and inherit the Promised Land (vv. 21-22).
Jesus With His Disciples
Jesus, the Messiah
This wonderful chapter reveals the ministry of the Lord:
(1) Jesus, reading from this chapter during a synagogue service in Nazareth, claimed to fulfill this prophecy (vv. 1-2a; Luke 4:16ff).
(2) The Lord acknowledged the necessity of the Spirit's enablement in the ministry, especially in preaching the gospel.
(3) His audiences—the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives—all sensed their impotence to meet their own spiritual needs.
(4) As the Anointed One, He preached when God was well-disposed to save souls (v. 2a; cf. 49:8; 55:6).
(5) As the Master Interpreter, Jesus stopped short of announcing His current participation in the day of vengeance, since that day had not yet come (v. 2b).
(6) His dividing of this text clearly demonstrates that He recognized the existence of a parenthesis of time between the "acceptable year" and the "day of vengeance."
(7) Jesus also carried on a ministry of comfort, strengthening the faith of believers and causing them to radiate the presence of God with their praise, joy, and beauty (v. 3).
In the future, God's people Israel will reconstruct their society (v. 4); Gentiles will serve them (v. 5), and hold them in high esteem (v. 6).
The nation will exchange bad for good (v. 7).
Yahweh will ensure their blessedness among the nations, all of whom will recognize His favor upon them (vv. 8-9).
The man of God himself rejoices over his salvation and over what the LORD will accomplish for His people's sake (vv. 10-11).
[By the way, verses one through three could also apply to Isaiah’s prophetic ministry].
Salvation for Jerusalem
Isaiah resolves to work tirelessly until Jerusalem's testimony to Yahweh's salvation shines brightly (v. 1).
Appointed watchmen will carry on the same task (presumably, importunate prayer) [vv. 6-7].
The prophet knows fully that this salvation will come to pass, as he remarks about the new names the LORD will give to the city and about the glorious kingdom that Zion will become (vv. 2-4).
God will greatly prize and rejoice in Jerusalem (v. 5).
In accordance with Yahweh's solemn vow, Israel will control the use of the grain and wine grown on their land during Messiah's kingdom; foreigners will never again plunder them (vv. 8-9).
Isaiah enthusiastically exhorts the people to prepare for the city's renewal and the habitation of the land, for the LORD will save, reward and redeem them (vv. 10-12; cf. Rev. 22:12).
Second Coming of the Messiah
The Return of Christ
God's man muses rhetorically about the identity and appearance of a certain One coming from Edom (vv. 1-2).
(1) Yahweh "travels" (the text does not say how), wearing blood-stained garments, yet His clothes also shine gloriously.
(2) He identifies Himself as a truth speaker and a mighty Savior (v. 1).
[The prophet's style resembles David's in Psalm 24: a chorus-like question and a response].
(3) This One is also an avenging Warrior who alone judges the peoples in wrath; yet He also rescues His own (vv. 3-6).
In a fervent plea for the salvation of his people, Isaiah first recalls how God, in His great mercy and chesed, had saved, cared for, and suffered with ancient Israel (vv. 7-9).
Despite His love for them they rebelled, moving Him to chasten them (v. 10).
Afterwards, the prophet remembers Moses' day and longs for God to act on their behalf as He had done at the Sea of Reeds (vv. 11-13).
Isaiah desires that He again make for Himself an everlasting, glorious name by leading His people and giving them rest (v. 14).
For a moment, the man of God expresses dismay at the LORD’s seeming absence from the scene, even His apparently oblivious attitude toward him (v. 15).
However, then he acknowledges Him as Father and Redeemer from Everlasting (v. 16).
After charging Yahweh with causing Israel's apostasy, Isaiah implores Him to restore them to their land now under Gentile domination (vv. 17-18).
Because the LORD has hardened him and sent him into exile, Israel is not living as he ought to live (v. 19).
© 2013 glynch1