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Bible: What Does Isaiah 58-63 Teach Us About Worship, Sin, and Messiah's Kingdom?

Updated on August 21, 2016
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Good Works

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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

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The Result of Sin


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Isaiah 59

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

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Isaiah 60

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

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Isaiah 61

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].

Jerusalem

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Isaiah 62

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

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Isaiah 63

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

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    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 2 years ago

      Every day is a day of spiritual rest for those who know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. If you have the opportunity, go to Grace Community Church's website "Grace to You," and listen to John MacArthur's sermon about the Sabbath.

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      She undoubtedly saw her role as a way to serve her family and others. Godly grandmothers often possess that characteristic.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      No, Greg, I guess cooking on Sunday was just part of the tradition. My grandmother would get up early before Sunday School to start the rolls from scratch--and never complained.

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      Many Christians (it seems) regard Sunday (the first day of the week) as the new day of rest in honor of the Resurrection. If circumstances do not permit them to take Sunday off, then they choose another day during the week to "rest and recreate." Either that, or they do not take a full day to rest at all. I do not think that is wise, since God purposely set aside a day for man to rest . He knew that His people would need one day out of the week to recoup their physical and spiritual strength. Certainly Sunday seems the logical day for us to rest from work and to spend time together to worship, fellowship and do other "good works." As for the women not getting a day off, did they ever think of cooking everything on Saturday?

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      I've never heard an explanation of Isaiah 58 in this way, but it makes sense. Seems like most who honor the Sabbath today abstain from work, instead engaging in recreational activities (worldly pleasures) rather than good works. Growing up in the South in a Baptist Church, my Sundays usually revolved around church services and a big meal which the women cooked. They didn't get a day off!