Restorers, Repairers and Rebuilders
#1 Sanctity of Service Isaiah 58:1-14Video Link
We’ve be in and out of the Book of Isaiah several times in the past few weeks, so I want to give a little more background and analysis of the book before we go to chapter 58 for today’s message.
Isaiah the Man and Prophet, description from Irving L. Jenson
Isaiah was bold, fearless, and absolutely sincere. He talked to his fellow countrymen in plain language, showing them how they looked in God’s sight. No class of society escaped his scathing denunciations.
Isaiah was stern and uncompromising when the occasion demanded, but he also had a tender heart. He warned of judgment because he loved his people, and like a loving mother he tenderly wooed them to heed his counsel so they could claim the prospects of a glorious future.
Isaiah was also a man of great spirituality and strong faith. Associating so intimately and constantly with God, he had no place for worldliness and doubt. He saw men and things from God’s point of view, in the light of eternity.
Isaiah was a many-sided genius. His ministry of prophecy was enhanced by his being gifted as a poet, a statesman, and an orator. - Irving L. Jensen, Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament: Search and Discover, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), 328.
To me, Isaiah has always been the Paul of Old Testament, divinely called to God’s people, divinely used to confront sin and show salvation and divinely talented to write one of the most elegant books in all the Bible.
A Book of Sermons and Prophecy: The book of Isaiah is a collection of eight volumes containing over 49 Sermons, historical narrative from the reign of King Hezekiah and hundreds of prophecies, many of them very specific in the description of the coming Messiah.
Volume I. Sermons on Rebuke and Promise. 1:1–6:13.
Volume II. Sermons and Prophecy of Immanuel. 7:1–13:6.
Volume III. Burdens (Prophecies) of Judgment upon the Nations. 13:1–23:18.
Volume IV. Sermons of Rebuke and Promise 2 24:1–27:13.
Volume V. Sermons on the Woes for Unbelievers of Israel. 28:1–33:24.
Volume VI. General Rebuke and Promise 3 , 34:1–35:10.
Volume VII. The Volume of Hezekiah. 36:1–39:8.
Volume VIII. Sermons of the Messiah, Comfort and Hope 40:1–66:24.
- Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), So 8:13.
Our chapter falls in the last volume of sermons that deal with the Messiah, comfort and hope. So, let’s turn to chapter 58 in the book of Isaiah, for our first sermon in the series Restorers, Repairers and Rebuilds.
Shallow Service - Isaiah 58: 1-5
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and
shew my people their transgression,
and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day,to make your voice to be heard on high.
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush,and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
God Condemns Hypocritical Service
Isaiah is told by God to, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up they voice like a trumpet” God has a message for His people, and he wants it to be heard by all. The phrase means with the full throat. Not a weak whisper but a loud full-throated yell, like a trumpet pealing out a message. He is not to hold back not to spare his voice because this sermon had to be heard by a people who were used to ignoring the word of God. (Sounds a little bit like today doesn’t it?)
And here is the message that was so important, “Show my people their transgression and their sin.” God makes this accusation through Isiah and then says, “Yet they seek me daily as a nation that did righteousness, and had not forsaken the law of their God.” It is a statement of shock. How can they sin this way and still pretend to be a nation seeking Me as if they were righteous and had not deserted the law of God?”
God goes on, “They ask me for justice, and they act as though they desire to come to me.” And this sets up the premise or the point of the sermon. God is saying, I will give you what you ask for, I will give you justice and I will tell you what it means to truly come to Me.
He then uses fasting as His example of the people’s hypocrisy in worship and falseness in pretending to serve God.
Rhetorically, He speaks in the voice of the people of Israel, “Why have we fasted and you do not see? Why have we afflicted our soul and you don’t notice?”
They were fasting, sacrificing, and going to the Temple but still there were experiencing the judgments of God and were under the threat of border raids and the impending invasions of foreign powers. God, they cried out in their legalism and their formalism, Why don’t you do something for us? We are doing all this for you.”
So God tells them. He gives two reason they aren’t heard. First, In Vs. 3-4 Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
When you fast, God tells them, you still take your own personal pleasures and even worse you oppress those who work for you. Nothing about you changes when you fast, its just another activity in your normal sinful day and routine. Your fasting is about yourself, your strivings, your fighting and your oppression of others, it is not about seeking God.
He tells them, “You will not fast like this and be heard by me.”
Secondly, then in verse 5. God pointedly asks them, “Is this the kind of fast I would choose? To afflict your soul in order to gain favor with God, to show off by bowing down like a cattail after a windstorm, or by spreading sackcloth and ashes for men to see? Do you call this a fast and a day that the Lord would accept?” God is saying its all a show, a pretense, a hypocrital ritual and it has no power or affect with me.
By their shallow fasting, worship, and service the nation of Israel was not seeking God but instead they were seeking to manipulate God. They were not serving Him, they were trying to make God serve them.
Serving God Not Self
There are many times I can be just as self-centered and manipulative as the nation of Israel during the time of Isaiah. I do things, prayer things, give things and then ask God, “Why don’t you see what I’m doing for you? Why, don’t you answer my prayers? Can’t you see how much I’ve given, how much I’ve done? God, you owe me.”
Perhaps I should take the same examination that God gave to Israel.
Is what you’re doing, giving, or praying for, changing you? Or is your life still the same, going along in the same old, selfish way it was before? Is my worship, my service about seeking God and letting Him control my life or about seeking to control God to make my life better.
Jesus’ preaches this same message in Matthew 15, or perhaps He is simply repeating the same message that he gave to Isaiah. Listen to His condemnation of this kind of hypocrisy, in Matthew 23:23-25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
God is not swayed by shallow service, weak worship, or pretentious prayer. We may be fool ourselves, but we will not fool God.
The Widow's Mite: Here is an insight into How God Looks at our Service.
Mark 12:41-44 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Jesus, who was God in the flesh, took no notice of the other givers that day, he only called the disciples attention to the widow who gave all her living. What she gave cost her dearly, it cost her a part of her life. It was only two little coins. To most people it was not worth bending over and picking them up if they had fallen to the floor, but to God it was true, real, genuine service. That is the service God notices, that is the worship God accepts.
So lets go on in Isaiah 58 because here God tells Israel the
worship and service that He desires.
Sanctified Service – Isiah 58:6-7
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
God tells them, “This is the fast I desire.” This is the real purpose of worship and service.
To loose the bands of wickedness
To undo heavy burdens
To let the oppressed, go free
To break every yoke.
To distribute your bread to the hungry
Bring the outcasts to your house.
To see the naked and cover them
Not hide yourself from your own flesh.
The actions that are listed here were against the sins that Israel was engaging in. The oppression of the poor and weak, their selfishness instead of caring for others and denying their own family, their own flesh instead of supporting and loving them.
True fasting, true worship and service to God should have made a change in who they were and in what they were doing because real worship and service brings us closer to God and when you draw close to God, the we are changed by that encounter.
They had asked why doesn’t God hear us? And God answers them because your hypocrisy is louder than your prayers. Your selfishness is greater than your fasting and your oppression of others stands between you and your God.
This is a direct revelation of the heart of God and it has direct application to us today, even if we aren’t fasting. Let’s apply God’s answer then to our own motivation and actions in our worship or service for God.
What I must understand is that I am …
Serving God By Serving Others
This is what Israel couldn’t or wouldn’t see. Their fasting, temple attendance, sacrifices to or for God meant nothing if they were for the benefit of self. It they were just a means to the end of getting something from God. Instead, there should have been a change in themselves from seeking and finding God in worship and service. That change would have been most evident in the way they treated those around them, people in need that God had placed in their lives and within their ability to help.
So, there are two types of service I see here.
Vs. 6. The service of freeing the bound and Vs. 7. The service of helping those need.
Here are the physical and spiritual applications.
In real service to God there is both the physical and the spiritual application.
Physically, there should be oppressed people freed, burdened people helped, and binding chains cut off. How?
I believe this applies in all areas of life. I think serve like this nationally by the leaders we elect and the issues of the world we involve ourselves in, but that is not the most important kind of service God desires.
I think that service is when we do this individually as God gives us opportunity. God will place in our lives people who we have a real chance to set free. It may be setting them free from ignorance by being a mentor. It may be freedom from poverty by giving them a job or teaching them how to work. It may be from freedom of sorrow and loneliness by being a friend. It may be freedom from hunger by giving them a meal.
However, it is done it must be for the purpose of setting them free and it happens as God told Isaiah, by being “poured out” for them. Like the widow and her mite, it will cost us some of our life.
Also, and probably more importantly, we must set people spiritually free. We will do this by telling those who are burdened by guilt and enslaved in sin, that Jesus Christ come to set them free. He is the only One who can truly set them free.
That person enslaved by alcohol and drugs needs to hear of freedom in the Savior.
That couple who are trapped in an unhappy relationship and walking down the road toward a heartbreaking divorce needs the power Jesus Christ to keep them together.
That little boy or little girl whose parents are neglectful, even abusive need to know the hope that comes with knowing the Lord loves them and will never neglect or hurt them.
If what we are doing as Christians in our service is not breaking the bonds of sin, hell and death in the lives and souls of those around us, then it is not the service that God intended for His nation Israel, or the service Jesus left His church on earth to fulfill.
Illustration: Jesus reveals His God given mission at Nazareth
The purpose for our service is the same as Jesus’. In Luke 4:16-17 we read, And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (now I’m going to read the quote from Isaiah 61:1-3) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
This is God’s desire for our worship and for our service to Him. To preach good tidings, to bind up the broken, to proclaim liberty and the day of the Lord. Our service for the Lord, make us serve in the same spirit as the Lord and to the same people that the Lord reached out to.
Transition: What is the end result of pouring yourself out
for others? Will their be anything left
of you or of your family?
Sacred Service - Isaiah 58:8–14
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. 13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it..
God reprimands the hypocrisy of Isreal but then He tells them of the blessings, rewards and promises if they will but truly worship and serve their God. Vs. 8-9a Four Secure Promises for Sacred Service, If Israel will serve God with a true heart, showing compassionate love toward others.
The promise of God revealing, “Thy light shall break forth as the morning.”
The promise of God caring, “Thy health shall spring forth speedily.”
The promise of God leading and protecting, “Thy righteousness shall go before thee. The glory of the Lord shall be thy rearguard.”
The promise of God hearing. “You shall call and the Lord shall answer, you shall cry and he shall say, Here I am.”
Vs. 9b – 12, Then as Israel continues to give sacred serve to God, especially by caring for others
He says, If they take away the yoke (oppression), the pointing finger (accusation) and speaking vanity (evil speech, gossip, slander)
If, instead of hurting one another they will draw out (pour out) their soul (life) to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted.
Then the Lord’s promises these blessings
Blessing of Glory: Thy light shall rise in obscurity and thy darkness be as the noonday.
Blessing of Guidance: The Lord shall guide thee continually
Blessing of Growth: He will make your bones fat (give over and above what you need.) You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring that never fails. (Even in the midst of drought your life shall flourish.)
Blessing of Generations Vs. 12 your descendants shall rebuild the old places, raise up the foundations and you shall be called, “The repairer of the broken walls. The restorer of living paths. Those that you help, those that your restore, rebuild, and repair will go on and continue in doing that same good work. They will be the next generation of rebuilders in the great work of God.
Then in Vss. 13-14 The Sabbath Day is used as an example of worship instead of fasting. Now God gives three final promises if Israel will honor and serve Him by holding the Sabbath day sacred to God.
Honor God’s day by turning away thy foot (not going your own way.)
From doing thy pleasure on my holy day. (Not doing your own thing.)
Call the Sabbath a delight (Take pleasure in God’s day.), honorable (A day that is special) and honor Him (Because He is God and special to us).
God tells Israel on the Lord’s Day and in the Lord’s service, let it not be your ways, your wishes, or your words, but God’s way, God’s will and God’s words on God’s Day.
Honor Him by keeping His Day Sacred
When this happens then God once again promises His rewards. He wants to bless them, He wants to protect them, He wants to love them, but it must be His way, His will and His word if there will be His rewards.
Vs 14. Here are the final 3 rewards He promises in vs. 14 -
One. As they delight in the Sabbath they will be rewarded with finding delight in the Lord of the Sabbath. As they take joy in His day they will find joy in their God. It was never about duty, it was about resting in the Lord.
Number two. When God’s day is sacred, then God will cause them to ride upon the high places of the earth. He is going to sweep them up and sweep them away in a special unique relationship with Him. Spiritual exaltation and spiritual prosperity.
Number three They will feed on the heritage of Jacob. The land promised to Jacob will be theirs and will be guaranteed by God to remain theirs. If they but understand that their service, their worship must be sacred, then God gives them His seal, His guarantee…
“For the mouth of Jehovah God has spoken this.” These promises are true because they come from God who is absolute truth, who defines all truth and who declares only truth.
Serving God Secures The Future
According to Isaiah, the service and worship that God blesses and rewards is dependent on my sincerity, my devotion toward Him and my compassion for others.
When I read this passage, I see that God who sees much more than I realize. I see that God has emotions, plans and desires for me. I see that He wants to bless me but He is not willing to play my spiritual games.
Do you want God’s blessing and rewards in your life? Do you want to experience the delight of God? Then begin serving him in the reality of your heart instead of the hypocrisy of your rituals.
Do you want God’s leading and protection in your life? Do you want God to make your life count? To secure the future of your family from generation to generation? Then stop hurting others by our actions and our words and begin pouring yourself out to those in spiritual and physical need.
You want God to make you and your family the priority of His blessings then you must make His day the priority of your week.
It is more than just a day it is a measure of our devotion and love for Him.
It comes down to this, Honor Him by honoring His day, love
Him by loving others and serve Him by serving others.
I haven’t given any quotes today but I’ve saved a good one for the conclusion. Its from one of my favorite people to quote, the great missionary to Africa, David Livingstone. This is how he viewed as the reason for his service.
“He is the greatest master I have ever known. If there is anyone greater, I do not know him. Jesus Christ is the only master supremely worth serving. He is the only ideal that never loses its inspiration. He is the only friend whose friendship meets every demand. He is the only Savior who can save the uttermost. We go forth in His name, in His power, and in His Spirit to serve Him.” - Wiersbe & Wiersbe, Making Sense of the Ministry.