Isaiah 57-58

is57.jpgGreetings!

57     The righteous perish,

and no one ponders it in his heart;

devout men are taken away,

and no one understands

that the righteous are taken away

to be spared from evil.

2 Those who walk uprightly

enter into peace;

they find rest as they lie in death.

I don’t think this is a Heaven / Hell passage per se, rather it notes that the society was so evil that the dead were in a better place.  Many Israelites had abandoned God and were involved in pagan fertility religions.

3 “But you—come here, you sons of a sorceress,

you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!

4 Whom are you mocking?

At whom do you sneer

and stick out your tongue?

Are you not a brood of rebels,

the offspring of liars?

5 You burn with lust among the oaks

and under every spreading tree;

you sacrifice your children in the ravines

and under the overhanging crags.

6 The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;

they, they are your lot.

Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings

and offered grain offerings.

In the light of these things, should I relent?

7 You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;

there you went up to offer your sacrifices.

8 Behind your doors and your doorposts

you have put your pagan symbols.

Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,

you climbed into it and opened it wide;

you made a pact with those whose beds you love,

and you looked on their nakedness.

9 You went to Molech with olive oil

and increased your perfumes.

You sent your ambassadors far away;

you descended to the grave itself!

10 You were wearied by all your ways,

but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’

You found renewal of your strength,

and so you did not faint.

11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared

that you have been false to me,

and have neither remembered me

nor pondered this in your hearts?

Is it not because I have long been silent

that you do not fear me?

12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,

and they will not benefit you.

13 When you cry out for help,

let your collection of idols save you!

The wind will carry all of them off,

a mere breath will blow them away.

But the man who makes me his refuge

will inherit the land

and possess my holy mountain.”

If we put our trust in idols or worldly things then we have no hope.  As Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Comfort for the Contrite

14 And it will be said:

“Build up, build up, prepare the road!

Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

15 For this is what the high and lofty One says—

he who lives forever, whose name is holy:

“I live in a high and holy place,

but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,

to revive the spirit of the lowly

and to revive the heart of the contrite.

16 I will not accuse forever,

nor will I always be angry,

for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—

the breath of man that I have created.

17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;

I punished him, and hid my face in anger,

yet he kept on in his willful ways.

18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;

I will guide him and restore comfort to him,

19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

Peace, peace, to those far and near,”

says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”

20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,

which cannot rest,

whose waves cast up mire and mud.

21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

This next passage is very convicting.  Sometimes we can do the right things with the wrong motive, and they count for nothing.  It is so tempting to do the superficial things but not have my heart in the right place.

True Fasting

58     “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.

Raise your voice like a trumpet.

Declare to my people their rebellion

and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;

they seem eager to know my ways,

as if they were a nation that does what is right

and has not forsaken the commands of its God.

They ask me for just decisions

and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,

‘and you have not seen it?

Why have we humbled ourselves,

and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please

and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,

and in striking each other with wicked fists.

You cannot fast as you do today

and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

only a day for a man to humble himself?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed

and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe him,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath

and from doing as you please on my holy day,

if you call the Sabbath a delight

and the Lord’s holy day honorable,

and if you honor it by not going your own way

and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,

and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land

and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”

The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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