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Isaiah 58 Fasting

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Fasting is a private matter between us and the Lord. If we fast with the proper attitude, it will delight the Lord. Our hearts need to be right with the Lord.

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Isaiah 58

1. “The prophet is commanded to cry aloud a message that is always unpopular, which is to point out the transgressions and sins of a people who think they are very religious.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume III. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 327)

“The prophet is supposed to declare loudly and clearly that the house of Jacob is committing sinful deeds (‘missing the mark’) and acts of rebellion (‘treason, rebellion’).” (Smith, Gary V., The New American Commentary, Volume 15B, Isaiah 40-66. [Nashville, B & H Publishing Group, 2009], 572)

Do you think that the Holy Spirit is trying to get our attention?

2. “God was aware that among the various aspects of daily life (lit. ‘day by day,’ as in Genesis 39:10), many pious people ‘were repeatedly seeking’ God, and many “were repeatedly delighting in’ knowledge (a noun, not a verb) about the ways of God.” (Smith, 573)

“The people went to the temple, obeyed God’s laws, fasted, and appeared eager to seek the Lord, but their worship was only an outward show. Their hearts were far from God (1:10-15; 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9).” (Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament Prophets. [Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2002], 66)

Private Matter

3. “Fasting was to be a private matter between the soul and God—not a public show. Our Lord condemned them for abusing the fast.” (McGee, 327)

“When we worship because it is the popular thing to do, not because it is the right thing to do, then our worship becomes hypocritical.” (Wiersbe, 66)

4. “God explains why He cannot accept their fasting. They thought it gave them special acceptance with Him.” (McGee, 328)

“If a person’s confession of delight in God is not real, if it is not connected to a changed attitude, if fasting does not lead one to act differently, does that pious confession of delighting in God mean anything?” (Smith, 576)

5. “The Jews were commanded to observe only one fast on the annual Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-31), but they were permitted to fast personally if they wished.” (Wiersbe, 66)

“Would one of the purposes for fasting be to bow down one’s head like a reed and lie down in ashes and sackcloth?” (Smith, 577)

God’s Choice

6. “Stop the things that reveal the wickedness and the evil in your hearts. Demonstrate your faith in Me by your conduct. Start being honest in your dealings. Be truthful in what you say. I’d like to see you clean on the inside.” (McGee, 328)

“God called for concrete action, helping others in need. Again the emphasis is on overcoming injustice with righteous acts. God does not want anyone under someone else’s yoke.” [Max Anders and Trent C. Butler (2012). HOTC Vol. 15: Isaiah. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from]

7. “They were turning their back on the poor and needy. They even refused to show kindness and love to their own flesh and blood.” (McGee, 328)

“If in my religious duties I am doing what pleases me, and if doing it does make me a better person, then I am wasting my time, and my worship is only sin.” (Wiersbe, 66)

“Fasting and fighting do not go together! Yet how many families walk piously out of church at the close of a Sunday worship service, get in the family car, and proceed to argue with each other on the way home!” (Wiersbe, 66)


8. “When God’s people learn that salvation for them means giving themselves to establish righteousness and justice for others, then God’s promise and purposes will be fulfilled.” [Max Anders and Trent C. Butler (2012). HOTC Vol. 15: Isaiah. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from]

9. “Previously in 58:3a the people complained that God did not respond to the people’s pious activity, but in this verse God promises that in the future he will answer them when they call because it will be a true fast that God will accept.” (Smith, 581)

10. “These verses [9-10] describe what will happen if the people remove the oppression that exists on their fast days (58:3b-4).” (Smith, 381)

“The shining of your light will be as bright as the high-noon sun, so it will remove all the darkness and gloom from this wicked world.” (Smith, 582)

11. “Verse 11 explains how God will guide his people (cf. 57:18) at all times (just as he did in the past during the wilderness journey in Deuteronomy 32:12; Psalm 23:3) and will satisfy their souls in ‘dry places’ (just as he did in their wilderness journey).” (Smith, 582)

12. “God’s people will be involved in some way in making their eternal place of habitation (cf. 60-62).” (Smith, 583)


13. “God gave the sabbath to the nation Israel. God said, ‘It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever… (Exodus 31:17). For something interesting, read the entire passage of Exodus 31:12-18.” (McGee, 329)

14. “If the people want to experience the joy of the Lord, they need to be sure that they do not turn their foot from proper Sabbath practices ‘in order to do’ what delights or gives them pleasure on God’s holy day.” (Smith, 384)

“The ‘then’ clause in 58:14 indicates that people who make the Sabbath holy will naturally find the ‘you will delight yourself’ in the Lord (contrast 57:4).” (Smith, 384)

“True fasting will lead to humility before God and ministry to others…If we fast in order to get something for ourselves from God, instead of to become better people for the sake of others, then we have missed the meaning of worship. It delights the Lord when we delight in the Lord.” (Wiersbe, 66)


Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.

Max Anders and Trent C. Butler (2012). HOTC Vol. 15: Isaiah. B&H Publishing Group. Retrieved from
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume III. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983
Smith, Gary V., The New American Commentary, Volume 15B, Isaiah 40-66. Nashville, B & H Publishing Group, 2009
Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament Prophets. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2002

Wicked                                                                                     Separation

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