Sound the shofar! True righteousness is not based on religious deeds. Instead, it is based on how we treat other people, especially the poor and needy.
VERSE 1. “Cry aloud! Don’t spare! Lift up your voice like a shofar! Declare to my people their disobedience, and to the house of Jacob their sins.
Cry aloud! Sometimes we need to shout!
VERSE 2. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways. As a nation that did righteousness, and didn’t forsake the ordinance of their God, they ask of me righteous judgments. They delight to draw near to God.
they seek me daily. That is, they act pious. Their worship of God is mere man-made traditions. These people have an obligation mindset. But they might not know any better. They need an on-fire Christian to evangelize them and “save” them.
daily. Millions of people go every day to the modern-day temple of their local church. An obligation-mindset drives them there, and they go through all the motions. Yet it does not fulfill them.
VERSE 3. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you don’t see? Why have we afflicted our soul, and you don’t notice?’“Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and oppress all your laborers.
They say, Why have we kept ourselves from food, and you do not see it? why have we kept ourselves from pleasure, and you take no note of it? If, in the days when you keep from food, you take the chance to do your business, and get in your debts; (BBE)
we fasted. They fasted, but not to glorify God. Rather, they did it for selfish reasons. And they complain that God was not impressed!
afflicted our soul. They gave up things. They kept themselves from pleasure. But they did it for selfish reasons. And they complain that God was not impressed!
you find pleasure. They were fasting and giving things up. But they did it to please themselves.
oppress all your laborers. While they were fasting and giving things up, they were oppressing their workers.
VERSE 4. Behold, you fast for strife and contention, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You don’t fast today so as to make your voice to be heard on high.
make your voice to be heard on high. If our fasting and giving things up does not stop our own wickedness, then it won’t help us grow in holiness.
VERSE 5. Is this the fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to humble his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under himself? Will you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
NLT translation. 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?
going through the motions. Their spirituality consisted of going through the motions. They did the recommended actions, but only for selfish reasons.
VERSE 6. “Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
NIV translation. Is this not 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, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
Sirach 11:34. Receive a stranger into your house, and he will distract you with brawls, And estrange you from your own.
Isaiah 58:6. “Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to release the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
Matthew 9:13. But you go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Matthew 25:35. for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in.
3 John 1:5. Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers.
untie the cords of the yoke:
Mark 11:4. They went away, and found a young donkey tied at the door outside in the open street, and they untied him.
VERSE 7. Isn’t it to distribute your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor who are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you not hide yourself from your own flesh?
NIV translation. 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?
VERSE 8. Then your light will break out as the morning, and your healing will appear quickly; then your righteousness shall go before you, and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard.
NIV translation. 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.
Then your light will break out. Our own woundedness will heal to the extent that we heal others. We heal to the extent that we heal others.
your healing will appear quickly. It is possible for our own healing to happen quickly.
VERSE 9. 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 among you the yoke, finger pointing, and speaking wickedly;
NIV translation. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
VERSE 10. and if you pour out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light will rise in darkness, and your obscurity will be as the noonday;
VERSE 11. and the LORD will guide you continually, satisfy your soul in dry places, and make your bones strong. You will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters don’t fail.
NIV translation. 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.
VERSE 12. Those who will be of you will build the old waste places. You will raise up the foundations of many generations. You will be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Paths with Dwellings.
build the old waste places. This is what Ezra and Nehemiah did. They were heroes of the faith who rebuilt the ancient ruins of the Holy City of Jerusalem.
VERSE 13. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the LORD honorable; and honor it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words,
NLT translation. 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.
enjoy the Sabbath. The Sabbath is meant to be a joy, not a burden. It is a gift of God, not an obligation. It is a day of merrymaking!
We humans are skilled at twisting God’s gifts into obligations. Even in our day, many Christians imposing heavy obligations on themselves and others.
speak of it with delight. Our words are important. We need to speak in ways consonate with the biblical truths.
VERSE 14. then you will delight yourself in the LORD, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father;” for the LORD’s mouth has spoken it.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.