The Acceptable Fast Is. 58:1-14 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In this chapter, the Lord told Isaiah to cry aloud like a trumpet, so all could hear him and none would mistake him, and show Israel their transgression and their sins [Is 58:1]. They acted like people who wanted to know the ways, righteousness and ordinances of the Lord [Is 58:2]. Their act was just religious piety [2 Tim 3:5]. So, Isaiah contrasts their ways of fasting with the acceptable fast of the Lord so that they would know the difference between what they were doing and what he wanted them to do.
The Unacceptable Fast
The Jews complained because their fast wasn’t getting God’s attention [Is 58:3]. The reason is that their fast was unacceptable for the following reasons:
When they fasted they found pleasure [Is 58:3; Mk 4:19] and they exacted all their labor [Is 58:3]; they fasted for strife and debate [Is 58:4; Gal 5:20]; they fasted for show [Is 58:5; Matt 6:16-18; Lk 18:11-12], as if God should be impressed.
The Acceptable Fast
Is 58:6-7 – in fasting God wanted them to quit their wickedness, quit abusing their employees, and quit oppressing the poor – he wanted them to let their bondservants go [Neh 5:10-12; Jer 34:8-11; Matt 23:2-5], give to the poor, bring the poor home with them, and cloth the naked [as in Matt 25:34-40].
The Results of the Acceptable Fast
Is 58:8-12 – light from the word [Ps 119:105, 130] and from their light shining [Matt 5:14-16], health [Prov 3:7-8], a righteous path to follow [Prov 12:28], the glory of God [as in Ex 13:21-22, 14:19-20], answered prayer [Est 4:16] and fellowship with Lord [“here am I”]. Also the Lord would guide them [as in Rom 8:13-14], and they would enjoy a satisfied life, a fruitful life, and more productive work – they would also build the old waste places.
Admonition to keep the Sabbath, as well
Is 58:13-14 – they were to keep from doing their pleasure on the Sabbath – they were to delight in it and honor it and the Lord – then they would delight in the Lord and ride upon the high places of the earth and the Lord would feed them with the heritage of Jacob.