Isaiah 58

Fast or Feast

1 God says, ‘Shout with your voice! Do not keep the sound quiet! Make a sound with your voice like a trumpet! Tell my people that they have not obeyed me. Also, tell the descendants of Jacob about their sins.’

58:1The words ‘the descendants of Jacob’ here mean God's people, Judah and Israel, who were descendants of Jacob.

2 ‘Do that because every day my people look for me. And it seems that they really want to know my thoughts. They are like a nation of people who do the right things. And they seem not to have turned away from what their God wants them to do. They ask me to decide fairly. And they seem to want God to come near to them.’

3 They say this. ‘We have fasted and you, God, did not see it. We made ourselves humble and you did not seem to see it.’ I answer, ‘Look! On the day when you fast, you make yourselves happy. And you are not kind to the people who work for you.

4 Look! While you fast, you quarrel and you fight. You hit each other with your fists.

You cannot fast like you do today, and still think that I will hear your voice in heaven.

5 I did not want you to do these things when you fast:

· A man makes himself humble only for a day.

· A man is humble, like a plant that is dying.

· And a man lies on hairy cloth and ashes.

You do those things when you fast. But do not think that the Lord will accept that.

6-7 This is the way that I want you to fast:

· Remove the chains that wrongly tie people up.

· And take off the chains that hold the yoke.

· If people are in pain like slaves, cause them to become free.

· And break every yoke.

· Give some of your food to hungry people.

· And give a safe place to the poor person who goes from place to place.

· When you see bare people, give clothes to them.

· And do not turn away from your own family.

8 Then your light will shine like the light at dawn. And soon everyone will see that you are well again. Then your righteous God will go in front of you. And the glory of the Lord at your backs will make you safe.

9-10 Then you will pray and the Lord will answer you. You will ask for help and he will say, “Here I am.”

You must do these things:

· Remove the yoke.

· Do not point with the finger at people and say bad things about them.

· If people are hungry or they are in pain, give them the food that they need.

Then your light will shine in the dark places. You will be like a sun that shines in the night.

11 Then the Lord will always be your guide. He will give to you plenty of everything, in a country where the sun is burning everything. And he will make your bodies strong. You will become like a garden that has plenty of water. You will be like a well where the water never stops coming.

12 You will build again the old places that the enemy destroyed. And you will build the old houses again. People will call you “The Person who Mends Broken Walls” and “The Person who Builds Again Streets with Houses”.

13 If you do these things, you will enjoy yourselves with the Lord:

· Obey my rules about the Sabbath.

· That is my holy day, so do not just try to please yourselves.

· Enjoy the Sabbath, and respect it as the Lord's holy day.

· Do not do your usual work.

· Do not just do things to make yourself happy.

· Do not speak words that are not important on that day.

14 If you do those things, you will be happy because you belong to me, the Lord. You will have everything that you need. I will cause food to grow on the land that I gave to your ancestor Jacob.’

That is what the Lord says to you.