One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Isaiah 58.

The first five verses are God
telling the religious people why their prayers are not answered.

“Shout it aloud, do not hold

       Raise your voice like a trumpet.

       Declare to my people their rebellion

       and to the house of Jacob their sins.

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

       They ask me for just decisions

       and seem eager for God to come near

 ‘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.

 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,

       and in striking each other with wicked

       You cannot fast as you do today

       and expect your voice to be heard on

 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

       and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?

       Is that what you call a fast,

       a day acceptable to the LORD?”


The next ten verses give three
different conditions and the wonderful result of meeting those conditions:


Verses 6 and 7 give the


“‘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?

 Is it not to share your food with the hungry

       and to provide the poor wanderer with

       when you see the naked, to clothe him,

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


Verses 8 and 9a give the result:


 “Then your light will break forth like the

       and your healing will quickly appear;

       then your righteousness will go before

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

 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;

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


9b and 10a give the conditions:


“If you do away with the
yoke of oppression,

       with the pointing finger and malicious

 And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the

       and satisfy the needs of the oppressed…”


10b-12 give the answer:


“Then your light will rise in the

       and your night will become like the

 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.

 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

       and will raise up the age-old

       you will be called Repairer of Broken

       Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”


Verse 13 gives the condition:


 “If you keep your feet from breaking the

       and from doing as you please on my holy

       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…”


Verse 14 gives the answer:


 “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.”


Over the years, we have occasionally met the conditions. The
answers are always wonderful. One of our great joys is seeing our children and
grandchildren meet the conditions.

Here is a New Testament counterpart:

“Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or
dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich
neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But
when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,
and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at
the resurrection of the righteous’” (Luke 14:12-14).

How many of the saints obey this at least some of the time?

This post coordinates with today’s reading in the To
the Word! Bible Reading Challenge. If you are not in a daily reading plan,
please join us at We would love to have you reading with us.