Isaiah 58:1-12 An Appropriate Fast and its Blessings
This chapter offers helpful teachings about what is a true fast (verses 3-12) and what is a true Sabbath (verses 13-14). In verse 1 the Lord instructed Isaiah to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression.” This is the role of prophets. How blessed we are to have living prophets who receive inspiration from on high, then teach us how to repent, learn, and grow.
In verses 3-5, the Lord reveals the ineffective argument of the people, who claim that they are obeying the law of the fast. He cites their claim and gives His responses:
- The people: “Wherefore have we fasted … and thou seest not? … Have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?” (verse 3).
- The Lord: “Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact [you inflict upon others] all your labours…. Ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite…. Ye shall not fast as ye do this day [and expect] to make your voice to be heard [by God] on high” (verses 3-4).
- The Lord continues: “Is [this] such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to bow down his head … and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast? (verse 5). The Lord is telling them that their outward actions are just for show, and they do not reflect an upright heart (see also Matthew 6:16-18).
Next, in verses 6-7, the Lord teaches the appropriate ways to obey the law of the fast. Read these verses carefully and list the points He makes. Choose for yourself one of the things the Lord offers in verses 6-7, and consider how you can improve, as you strive to live the law of the fast.
In verses 8-12, the Lord promises a long list of blessings for those who live a true fast. Read and ponder these blessings. Which of these blessings have you seen in your life?
Isaiah 58:13-14 Blessings of the Sabbath
Now the Lord turns to the law of the Sabbath Day. In verse 13 He says, If:
- If we “turn away” from breaking the Sabbath and from simply doing our own “pleasure.”
- If we “call the sabbath a delight” (adjust our attitude and approach).
- If we “honor” the Lord, not doing our “own ways,” nor our “own pleasures,” nor speaking our “own words.”
And in verse 14 He says, Then:
- “Thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord” (we experience joy through Him).
- “I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth” (perhaps including the temple?).
- “[I will] feed thee with the heritage of Jacob” (the ultimate reward of the Abrahamic covenant, which passed through Isaac and Jacob to us, is exaltation in the Celestial kingdom).
President Russell M. Nelson taught in the April 2015 general conference that the Lord wants us “to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal…. I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear.”
Isaiah 59-66 The Glorious Future of the House of Israel
As we finish the book of Isaiah, these final chapters are dominated by themes of the Lord and His goodness, and what He will do to invite His children to come unto Him. Their potential future is also highlighted. Study the following:
None of us is without sin, and our living prophets are emphasizing our need to repent, even daily. How do our sins affect our lives, including our relationship with the Lord and with others? Read about the sins of Israel and their consequences:
- Isaiah 59:2-15
- Isaiah 65:2-7, 11-15
- Isaiah 66:4
What do you think of when you partake of the bread and water each week? If you were to teach a non-LDS person about your belief in Jesus Christ, what would you want to say? Read these teachings from Isaiah about Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Messiah:
- Isaiah 59:1, 20-21
- Isaiah 61:1-3, 8, 11 (Note: verses 1-2 were quoted by the Savior as he visited the synagogue in Nazareth; see Luke 4:18-19.)
- Isaiah 63:7-9, 16
- Isaiah 64:4, 8
- Isaiah 65:24
Do you feel fearful about living in the last days, or do you feel enthusiastic? (Perhaps a bit of both?). Today there are many evidences around us of the work of the adversary, yet the work of the Lord and His people is accelerating and will one day prevail. Read some of Isaiah’s prophecies about the last days, including the building up of Zion/Jerusalem:
- Isaiah 60:1-5, 9-11, 14-16
- Isaiah 61:4-6
- Isaiah 62:1-5, 10-12
- Isaiah 66:5-13
We truly believe in the literal return of our Savior Jesus Christ, who will come in glory, put an end to wickedness, transform the earth into a paradisiacal glory, and reign as King over all the world. Following are prophecies related to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
- Isaiah 63:1-6
- Isaiah 64:1-5
- Isaiah 66:15-21
And some verses about the Millennium:
- Isaiah 65:17-25
- Isaiah 66:22-23
And a partial description of conditions in the Celestial Kingdom:
- Isaiah 60:17-22
Thus end the sacred writings of the extraordinary prophet, Isaiah.