This is the 1st chapter of the last section in Isaiah (ch 58-66).
This section is focused on the glory of God in the future kingdom, and the emphasis is on the work of the Holy Spirit (59:19,21;61:1;63:10-11,14)
The main theme is this chapter is God exposing Israel religious acts. They fasted, they seems to be eager to know God’s ways, seems to seek God, seems to obey God’s commands outwardly, and they are proud of what they were doing (v3).
But God exposed the condition of their heart, God was not impressed with their outward religion practices(v5). Instead, God challenged them to live out the calling of God to them, to loose the chains of injustice (v6), to set the oppressed free, to share their food with the hungry, to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, to cloth the naked (v7), stopped finger pointing and malicious talks (v9).
If they truly live out God’s command, God’s promised great blessings to them. God promised them their light will break forth like the dawn, and their healing will quickly appear, the glory of the God will be their rear guard (v8). God will answer their calls (v9). Their light will rise in the darkness, and their night will become like the noonday(v10). God promised to satisfy their needs in a sun-scorched land, will strengthen their frame, their will be like well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations, their will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets. God promised them they will find joy in God, He will cause them to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of their father Jacob. (v14).
Although Israel has returned back to Babylon, although they do no longer worship idols. But they like an outward focus, self-righteous religious life. What God wants is for His people to truly worship Him from their heart, and live out a life what reveal the glory of God.
Today, many churches focus on the external rituals, many Christians think they are pretty good because they go to church on Sunday. But that is not what God wants. God desires to have a relationship with us, He desires us to worship Him inwardly, and to live out Christ life outwardly.
- v1-3: God called Isaiah to tell Judah about their sins and their rebellion. They fasted, they though they did great and have not forsaken the command of God. They even question God, why did not God notice how good they were?
- v4-5: God exposed their spiritual condition. Although they fasted, but their thoughts and actions reveal that their sins. God said this is not the fast He wanted.
- v6-7: God told them the kind of fasting He desires.
- v8-14: God tell them what is actually desires from God, and how the blessing they would receive if they obey God.
- v6-8: True Fasting and the blessing
- v9-12: Help the oppressed and the blessing
- v13-14: Keep the Sabbath and the blessing