Isaiah - chapter 58 - Part 1

Fasting God's Way - Problems and Corrections

Consider this teaching as one who goes to a well. Isaiah has skimmed the surface water and has placed it before you to wet your lips. I have endeavoured to reach down into the well to draw out a cup of water for you to drink. Is that all there is to the well? No. There is still much more of this water to drink. I hope that after you have read and pondered what I have written that you will return to the well and draw for yourself buckets of the water to satisfy your thirst and the thirst of others.

The Call To The Church vs 1

“Cry aloud, spare not;

The one who does the calling out are those who have been given the message from the Lord. It would be incorrect to think that the message is to be given by all who are the called of the Lord. This is a specific ministry and should be undertaken only by those who have received this message from the Lord. Other ministries such as encouragement, exhortation and a word of comfort must be carried out by those who have received that ministry.

The message when given must be spoken loudly enough for all the people to hear. There are many that would think it bad manners to shout a message from the congregation. It will not seem decent and it may not appear to be done in good order. Understand that this is done at the direction of the Lord. He is the one who says to shout. Why? Because the people have ceased to hear with their ears and have lost understanding in regards to the things of God. There are times in life when one must shout a warning to those who are in danger of harm or of losing their lives.

The one who is called to give this message must not spare. This is a message that comes when the body of Christ has erred and is widely missing the mark of the Christian life. It is not a message that is intended for a healthy church. It is one thing to have regard for those who are hurting and weak yet the condition of Israel at this time (and in some churches) was such that a delicate answer would not save the people from the condition they were in. As with a gangerous foot it is sometimes necessary not to spare the foot but to cut it off, so too must the treatment of their spiritual condition be tough. If those with this message would spare the people then they condemn them to certain death.

Lift up your voice like a trumpet;

To give emphasis to the above statement the Lord likens the call to the sound of a trumpet. When a trumpet is blown it can be heard throughout the land. Within the walls of the local church and into their homes the message must be proclaimed. It must reach out to the four corners of the church so that all will hear and all will know what is the message from the Lord. If anyone does not hear the message then the warning will not be heeded by some.

Are all equally guilty?...  probably not, though most likely there are degrees of offense. How is one to pray if they do not know where the Lord is leading? Since the proclamation of this message is to be loud enough to be heard by all it can be noted that the intent is for all people to pay attention to the words so that all may walk as one in national repentance. If given within a church then the message is for the entire congregation to lead them as one body to repentance. The message is for all because the whole body must turn their attention to the problem and each do their part in carrying out the repentance needed.

Tell My people their transgression,

The transgression being referred to here, it is only one transgression, is that the people were not living the kingdom of God. The transgression was one of the heart. This because they have ceased to have a true desire to have the Spirit of God and His goodness within them. They were a people who had religion and thought that this was enough. With only a head knowledge and not a changed heart, abuses of the religion occurred until everything became corrupted. The focus was lost. When this point is reached, sins abound, wrapped up in a warped sense of holiness, that breaks fellowship with God.

And the house of Jacob their sins.

The problems need to be plainly spoken. It is not a good time message of "the Lord loves you." It is not the point either to say "love the Lord with all of your heart." Those who are in this condition already believe they are righteous and doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord. You must break through the barrier of lies and show directly how they have offended, how they have fallen very short of the mark. The heart of Israel was already decaying and the blessings of God had already lifted and yet they did not have the sense to see it. The same can occur within a local church body.

The Outward Appearance vs 2

Yet they seek Me daily,

So we have a very stern message from God and it is intended for a group of people who desperately needed to hear the message. They were in really bad shape yet you wouldn't be able to tell that from their actions. These people were going to seek the Lord on a daily basis. They entered into prayer everyday to talk to God. They wanted to praise Him with their words, worship Him in song and to make their petitions known to Him. Everyday they did this and for a time they believed they were being heard. They believed that God was with them each and everyday because they sought Him out.

And delight to know My ways,

When someone would come along and tell them of the Torah and the other holy books, explain to them what God has done, is doing and will do, they thank God and rejoiced for the word being spoken. To hear and talk of the wonders of God brought delight to their hearts. They were as children who ooh'd and aah'd at the spiritual treasure in their hands. They knew that the ways of God (His treasures) were entrusted to them and felt at peace because they were the keepers of the word of God. Later the apostle Paul wrote that they boasted because they had the ordinances of God. A point of pride.

As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.

They truly believed that they were a nation that did righteousness. They could not conceive within themselves that they were not following the ordinances of God. It is true that they had the word of God. That does not mean though that they understood what they had or even followed it according to the truth.

When they entered into error and sinned against the word entrusted to them prophets would come along and show them the error of their ways. If they repented then all would be made right. Yet we see throughout Israel's history that they did not always repent. This started a dwindling spiral of sin begetting sin. At this point a people or an individual will begin to justify their actions so that they are not pricked in their conscience. Alas, in time the result is a hardened heart and they are no longer aware of their sin. This was the condition of Israel at the time of this message being given by Isaiah.

They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;

In this condition what are the people doing? They are still going to God asking Him about the ordinances of justice. You see they did not believe that they had forsaken the law but on the contrary, they thought they were upholding it.

Think of a church body coming together each week to hear the word of God preached from the pulpit. The pastor speaks and the occasional amen rings out from the congregation. They love to hear the word preached to their "itching ears". No longer do they seek to understand what God is saying for the message being given has been altered so that it is acceptable to them. They believe they know what the bible "really means?" when something is quoted, not knowing that they have actually lost the message and lost their way.

They take delight in approaching God.

What joy it seems to them to come to the place of fellowship, praise, worship and the word. To sing and make merry in their hearts believing that this feeling of happiness is the presence of the Lord. To take this time to behave rightly towards each other and feel safe because of the atmosphere of "love". This they believe is a foretaste of heaven come down to touch the earth where they are. Yet understand, it is to these very people that the prophet was sent to cry out, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, tell my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins.

29 November, 1999

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Author: Joseph Raymond

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