What Does Isaiah 58 Have to Do With Poverty?

How does Isaiah 58 relate to extreme poverty? How does it relate to oppression and corruption? Does Isaiah 58 have anything to do with these topics?

How about its relevance to how we serve the Lord today? What are your thoughts?

1 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.

9 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Grant Norsworthy June 27, 2011

    Change the word “fast” for “worship” (and switch that I believe is completely correct to make and in tune with the original text) and read the passage again. This more easily allows us to understand Isaiah 58 as being for us, today.

    Worship is more potently expressed as we care for those who are less fortunate materially, than by a Sunday morning of singing His praises. This is the worship that God asks of us.

  2. Kevin Leggett June 27, 2011

    Thanks for the wonderful reminder. Never thought of fasting in light of this.

  3. Amanda June 27, 2011

    This is why I named my blog “The Kind of Fasting I Have Chosen!” So glad Compassions blogging about it too 🙂

  4. Vicki Small September 4, 2010

    Hmm…I think there is a fourth message: God will bless us as we obey – in relation to our care for the poor, certainly, but by obeying and honoring Him in all our ways (see vv. 13 and 14). All of the preceding verses also call for obedience to commands, to teaching, that have already been given.

  5. Chris Giovagnoni August 30, 2010

    I’ve heard it said that Isaiah 58 contains three important messages for us to heed.

    1. God is not impressed with religious posturing. We cannot serve Him with empty, uncaring or selfish hearts and expect our voices to be heard.
    2. God will hear us when we seek justice for the oppressed.
    3. God will give us blessed lives when we pour ourselves for the poor, when we “spend our souls” personally and authentically.
  6. Chris Giovagnoni August 30, 2010

    From HopeGrows247 on Twitter:

    Is. 58 relevance: This describes America n many ways. We expect so much of God but give so little of ourselves. We do things 4 show, not out of obedience & expect tht 2 b honoured by God. Fasting is just 1 example of things we do almost robotically w/o the right heart. God wants us to SERVE others, not wait 2 b blessed by Him. That will come. If we do things w/the right attitude & 4 the right reasons, our fruit will be obvious. In short, if we are TRULY obedient, we won’t have any needs or wants (Ps. 23:1). We’ll be safe, & He will restore us. I looked at several translations of Is. 58. I have to say, I like The Message’s way of putting things for this passage! 🙂

  7. Brit Windel August 30, 2010

    I think our answer is found in Isaiah 61. We have to first realize we are the called ones, we are anointed to speak and share the love and favor of God with those who have been oppressed and taken advantage of

  8. Sherry W. August 30, 2010

    Is 58 was a lectionary reading a couple weeks ago. The words in verse 10 have been nibbling at me since then:

    “if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed”

    In verse 6, the original Hebrew “you” is in plural form: “(You all) shall break every yoke”. We must work together on the things in verse 6. That’s a big set of tasks–we can’t do it alone. But In verse 10, the Hebrew “you” is singular. This is what an individual can do. So I’m chewing on this. How can I spend (keep expending) myself on behalf of the hungry? Not an easy question.

    1. Brinta January 8, 2012

      Where is the plural ‘you’ in verse 6 that you ara referig to ? I am somehow not seeing any ‘you’ in verse 6

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