Observances of Fasts
58 “Cry aloud, do not hold back;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression
And to the house of Jacob their sins.
“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight [superficially] to know My ways,
As [if they were in reality] a nation that has done righteousness
And has not abandoned (turned away from) the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me righteous judgments,
They delight in the nearness of God.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You do not see it?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
Hear this [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins] you find something you desire [to do],
And you force your hired servants to work [instead of stopping all work, as the law teaches].(A)
“The facts are that you fast only for strife and brawling and to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You do not fast as you do today to make your voice heard on high.
“Is a fast such as this what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself [with sorrow in his soul]?
Is it only to bow down his head like a reed
And to make sackcloth and ashes as a bed [pretending to have a repentant heart]?
Do you call this a fast and a day pleasing to the Lord?
“[Rather] is this not the fast which I choose,
To undo the bonds of wickedness,
To tear to pieces the ropes of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free
And break apart every [enslaving] yoke?(B)
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not to hide yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your healing (restoration, new life) will quickly spring forth;
Your righteousness will go before you [leading you to peace and prosperity],
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.(C)
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry for help, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away from your midst the yoke [of oppression],
The finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and [every form of] wicked (sinful, unjust) speech,(D)
And if you offer yourself to [assist] the hungry
And satisfy the [a]need of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“And your people will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up and restore the age-old foundations [of buildings that have been laid waste];
You will be called Repairer of the Breach,
Restorer of Streets [b]with Dwellings.
Keeping the Sabbath
“If you turn back your foot from [[c]unnecessary travel on] the Sabbath,
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a [spiritual] delight, and the holy day of the Lord honorable,
And honor it, not going your own way
Or [d]engaging in your own pleasure
Or speaking your own [idle] words,
Then you will take pleasure in the Lord,
And I will make you ride on the high places of the earth,
And I will feed you with the [promised] heritage of Jacob your father;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”(E)
- Isaiah 58:10 Lit soul.
- Isaiah 58:12 Lit to dwell.
- Isaiah 58:13 The ancient rabbis established strict limits for travel on the Sabbath, excepting unintentional violations and religious errands. This verse became a rabbinic proof text to rule on whether a person who had put one foot beyond the Sabbath limit for his city could reenter the city. But the Hebrew text may not refer to travel at all; turn back your foot from the Sabbath can be interpreted as an idiom referring to keeping oneself from violating the Sabbath in other ways.
- Isaiah 58:13 Lit finding.
The Passion Translation
Ritual and Ceremony Is Not Enough
58 “Shout it loud and clear!
Don’t hold back!
Let your voice be like a trumpet blast!
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to Jacob’s tribes their sin!
2 Yes, daily they seem to seek me,
pretending that they delight to know my ways,
as though they were a nation that does what is right
and had not rejected the law of their God.
They ask me to show them the right way,
acting as though they are eager to be close to me.
3 They say, ‘Why is it that when we fasted,
you did not see it?
We starved ourselves, and you didn’t seem to notice.’
“Because on the day you fasted
you were seeking only your own desires,
and you continue to exploit your workers.[a]
4 During your fasts, you quarrel and fight with others
and strike them with an angry fist.
When you fast like that, your voice will not be heard on high.
5 Do you think I’m impressed with that kind of fast?
Is it just a day to starve your bodies,
make others think you’re humble,[b]
and lie down in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call that a fast?
Do you think I, Yahweh, will be pleased with that?[c]
Worship God in Truth
6 “This is the kind of fast that I desire:
Remove the heavy chains of oppression!
Stop exploiting your workers![d]
Set free the crushed and mistreated!
Break off every yoke of bondage!
7 Share your food with the hungry!
Provide for the homeless
and bring them into your home!
Clothe the naked!
Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood!
8 Then my favor will bathe you in sunlight
until you are like the dawn bursting through a dark night.[e]
And then suddenly your healing[f] will manifest.[g]
You will see your righteousness march out before you,
and the glory of Yahweh will protect you from all harm![h]
9 Then Yahweh will answer you when you pray.
When you cry out for help, he will say,
‘I am here.’
“If you banish every form of oppression, the scornful accusations,[i]
and vicious slander,
10 and if you offer yourselves in compassion[j] for the hungry
and relieve those in misery,[k]
then your dawning light will rise in the darkness
and your gloom will turn into noonday splendor![l]
11 Yahweh will always guide you where to go and what to do.
He will fill you with refreshment
even when you are in a dry, difficult place.
He will continually restore strength to you,
so you will flourish like a well-watered garden
and like an ever-flowing, trustworthy spring of blessing.
12 Your people will rebuild long-deserted ruins,
building anew on foundations laid long before you.[m]
You will be known as Repairers of the Cities[n]
and Restorers of Communities.[o]
13 “If you stop pursuing your own desires on my holy day,
and refrain from disregarding the Sabbath,
if you call the Sabbath a delightful pleasure
and Yahweh’s holy day honorable,
if you honor it properly by not chasing your own desires,
serving your own interests, and speaking empty words,
14 then you will find the joyous bliss
that comes from serving Yahweh.
And I will cause you to prosper
and be carried triumphantly over the high places of the land.[p]
You will enjoy the heritage of Jacob, your ancestor.”
Certainly the mouth of Yahweh has spoken it!
- Isaiah 58:3 See Lev. 16:29. It was clear that their fasting was an attempt to appear spiritual and manipulate God.
- Isaiah 58:5 Or “to bow your heads like (bent over) reeds.”
- Isaiah 58:5 Or “That is a day acceptable to Yahweh.”
- Isaiah 58:6 Or “Loose the ropes of the yoke.”
- Isaiah 58:8 Showing justice will bring the light of a new day. This sunrise pictures God’s restored favor and blessing coming upon the people.
- Isaiah 58:8 Or “health” or “restoration.” This would include the body, soul, and spirit.
- Isaiah 58:8 Or “sprout speedily, grow.”
- Isaiah 58:8 Or “will be your rear guard”; that is, God’s glory covers us from our past and protects us today and forever, with glory going before us and following after as well.
- Isaiah 58:9 Or “extending the finger.”
- Isaiah 58:10 Jesus offered himself to us, so we should offer ourselves in compassion for others. See Matt. 10:8; Acts 20:33-35; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 5:2, 25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14.
- Isaiah 58:10 The five qualifications of last-days ministry are found in vv. 9–10: (1) Commit to banish every form of oppression in our lives, churches, and society. (2) Remove scornful accusation (criticism) of others and their ministries. (3) Forbid to spread malicious slander. (4) Have compassion for the poor and disenfranchised. (5) Comfort those enduring suffering and tragedy. Then God promises (vv. 10–12) that multiple blessings will come: (1) Our spiritual light (influence) will increase in our communities. (2) Discouragement and gloom will disappear from our lives. (3) God will give us specific guidance and counsel to know what to do and where to go. (4) He will fill us with renewing grace, even when we are surrounded by difficult situations. (5) Our spiritual lives will flourish like a lush garden with fruit and beauty. (6) We will not cease to be an ever-flowing source of blessing to others. (7) We will be given God’s grace to rebuild lives and institutions in our cities, churches, and nations. (8) We will take up the legacy of our spiritual fathers and build on their foundations. (9) We will have a testimony of healing cities. (10) We will restore well-being to our communities.
- Isaiah 58:10 Or “double light.”
- Isaiah 58:12 Or “on foundations of many generations.”
- Isaiah 58:12 Or “repairers of the gap.”
- Isaiah 58:12 Or “restorers of paths that lead you home.” This is the Elijah ministry of restoration. See Neh. 1–4; Acts 3:21.
- Isaiah 58:14 That is, God will raise you up and cause you to prosper greatly. See Deut. 32:13; Eph. 1:3; 2:6.
New Living Translation
True and False Worship
58 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins!
2 Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14 Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
New King James Version
Fasting that Pleases God
58 “Cry aloud, [a]spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
(A)Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘Why(B) have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we (C)afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And [b]exploit all your laborers.
4 (D)Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is (E)it a fast that I have chosen,
(F)A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And (G)to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To (H)loose the bonds of wickedness,
(I)To undo the [c]heavy burdens,
(J)To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not (K)to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are [d]cast out;
(L)When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from (M)your own flesh?
8 (N)Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
(O)The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The [e]pointing of the finger, and (P)speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your [f]darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
(Q)Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of [g]Streets to Dwell In.
13 “If (R)you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 (S)Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to (T)ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
(U)The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground
58 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’
3-5 “Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?
6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.
13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so!