1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice [kol] like a trumpet [the shofar], and shew My people their transgression [peysha], and the house of Jacob their sins [Bais Ya'akov their chattot.].
The prophet was not sent to the surrounding heathen to tell them of their sins, but to Israel: God's own people.
Sin is by no means confined to those who know not God.
The need for condemning sin exists as much, and in a certain sense, more, within the house of God than in the outer darkness. The outer darkness is insensible to appeal; wickedness is its normal condition, so to speak. It knows not God and cares for none of His ways, and reproof would be altogether objectless.
But the house of God is professedly founded on submission to the expressed and enjoined will of God. And the people composing it are in danger of resting on this collective profession while individually acting inconsistently with it.
Thus it was with Israel: "They seek Me daily," says the Spirit of God by Isaiah,
"and delight to know My ways as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God."
They crowded the temple at the appointed times: they brought the sacrifices and kept the feasts, and took a certain delight in these things, but privately, they acted in opposition to the spirit on which the whole institution was founded. Jesus tells us what this spirit was. He says,
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. vii. 12).
Or, as he on another occasion expressed it,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thyself: on these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets"
(Matt. xxii. 40). *
2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their Elohim: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to Elohim.
Here is a very religious nation - a nation interested in the temple and the affairs of the Mosaic service - whose complaint is that God does not take notice of them equal to their zeal in serving Him. Why, to such a nation, should Isaiah be directed to lift up his warning voice as a trumpet? What was the matter with them? Wherein lay the defect that alienated God's regard from all their ceremonial compliances with His will? *
3 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.
They were lacking in pitiful hearts and in deeds of mercy. They conformed to the outward requirements of the divine service, but failed in those qualities and motives which were the kernel of the whole law of God. They fasted, but
" in the days of your fast, ... ye exact all your labours."
They exacted service from menials, instead of remitting it: their servants, their dependants, their inferiors were not allowed to participate in the rest and release of the day, but were kept to their toil and their drudgery. *
4 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.
...they left off their usual occupations only to make the fast a day of vain-glorious argument, instead of a day of contemplation and humility, and kindly solicitude for neighbours.
They duly observed the ceremonial parts of the fast-sitting morosely at stated hours in the garb and attitude of mourners, so appearing unto men to fast, but not fasting in the way acceptable with God. God found no pleasure in their lugubrious penances.*
5 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 Yahweh?
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?
Here we have shown to us plainly enough one aspect of character that God desires to see in his children. It was one of the grounds of his rejection of Israel after the flesh, that they were lacking in the spirit of ready benevolence, finding expression in abundant deeds of kindness. It will be a reason found not lacking in the case of those sent away from the judgment seat, with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. The apostles speak pointedly on the subject. John asks,
'Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? " (I John 3 : 17)·
Jesus often enjoined the same thing, adding that with what measure of kindness we acted towards men, we ourselves would be measured in the day of recompense. It is a matter to be kept most constantly in view. It is a matter we are in danger of forgetting or neglecting.*
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?
...is it not plain as the noonday that like Israel, we may deceive ourselves as regards our standing towards God, if we content ourselves with a merely technical compliance with the instructions of the house of God?
Is there no possibility that we may presume too much upon our knowledge of the truth, and our baptism, and our breaking of bread from week to week? These ways are Divine, and in their right place indispensable: but what if at the same time it is man more than God that is before our eyes in the doing of these things?
What if we sing and pray merely as the right sort of thing to do without opening the heart to God in all sincerity and fervency and fear? What if the glory of God be but a phrase on our lips, and a sentiment in reality foreign to our hearts? What if we shut up the bowels of our compassion towards those who suffer?
What if with plenty in our hands, we think only of our own need, and our own comfort, and our schemes are shaped and burdened only and continually with our own cares and our own interests ?
What if we never help the heavy burdens under which so many around us are staggering to the grave? What if we practice a habit of absolute indifference to the yokes, and the oppressions and difficulties which are crushing to the earth our neighbours on every hand?
Is it not obvious that in that case, we are in the exact position of Israel, "delighting in Yahweh's ways" after a fashion, but to no profit, because He takes no pleasure in us?
it is very possible for us to be in the position of Israel. We may be zealous of the Divine ordinances in the same way.
We may have a liking for the Gospel theoretically; we may attend and enjoy the meetings: and in a manner be as strongly in love with the Christadelphian position as the Jews were with their temple, and yet be lacking in the spiritual element that makes these things acceptable to God as part and parcel of a faithful service.
They are good in their place: Divine in their place: indispensable in their place: but if unaccompanied by the sentiment toward God which sincerely offers all to Him, and that disposition toward man which prompts to deeds of blessing and mercy, it may be all in vain, for on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, and therefore, all the Gospel and all the meetings and the whole machinery of the Divine service of our day. *
*Bro Roberts - The other side of God's character
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 Yahweh shall be thy rereward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and Yahweh 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 Yahweh 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.
Like a watered garden
Heb. gan, sig. a garden enclosed. The same Hebrew word describes the Edenic garden in Genesis 2.
The original undefiled garden was a place of safety and tranquillity to Adam and Eve, a true paradise on earth. But after sin was introduced into the world (Gen. 3), the area of Eden has been a place of great enmity for nations in times past and continues to be so in these latter days.
It is figuratively used to describe a chaste virgin in the Song of Songs 4:12. It was referred to historically as the "garden of Yahweh" in the days of Abraham (Gen. 13:10), which one commentator noted
"was in fact a temple in which he [Adam] worshipped God and was daily employed in offering the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise (Gen 2:15)".
Brother Thomas commented upon Eden as follows:
"It appears to have been well watered by the branches, or tributaries, of 'a river that went,' or flowed 'out of it.' (Gen. 2:10). These were four principal streams, whose names, as given by Moses, are the Pison, 'which compasseth the whole land of Havilah'; the Gihon, 'the same is it which compasseth the whole land of Khush', or Khushistan; the third, the Hiddekel, or Tigris; 'that is it which goeth eastward to Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates' (Gen. 2:11-14), frequently styled in the Scriptures, 'the Great River' (Gen. 15:18).
On the map before me, there are four rivers which flow together, and at length form a river which falls into the Persian Gulph. This indicates the country called Eden, namely, that which is watered by these rivers; so that we may reasonably conclude, that in early times it comprehended the land east of the Jordan, Syria, Assyria, part of Persia, Khushistan, and the original settlements of Ishmael (Gen. 25:18).
This country, in after ages, came to be denominated 'the Garden of the Lord'; and the kings who reigned in it, 'the Trees of Eden'. It was no doubt termed the Lord's garden as a whole, from the fact of His having, in the beginning, planted a garden in it where He put the man; so that the name of a small part of Eden, came to be applied by His family in the time of Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, and Moses, to the whole region; more especially as the future paradise is to occupy a considerable portion of its ancient limits" (Elpis Israel, pp. 55-56).
Ezekiel's description of the Temple of the Age to Come speaks of "healing waters" producing all manner of miraculous vegetation (Eze. 47:12).
The territory of Eden comprises the area promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18. Messiah's Kingdom will be established with its centre and Royal Throne in Zion. This land will be transformed back to its native habit as the curse (Gen. 3:17) is removed from the earth in Messiah's reign. See also Isaiah 11:6-9; 41:18-20.
Bro. Stan Snow observed how the physical properties of the two streams issuing out from the Temple of the Age to Come, suggest a wider spiritual blessing for all the people, stating:
"There is a clear spiritual lesson in this arrangement. The Temple waters issuing from the side of the altar (Christ; Heb. 13:10; John 19:34) represent the 'living water', which has the power to heal spiritually (John 4:14). Only by contact with this 'spiritual water of life' from Christ can true healing come (Acts 4:12). This lesson will be taught by the physical healing of the Temple streams, but only where the streams make contact."
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build [rebuild] the old waste places [charevot olam (ancient ruins)]: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations [mosedei dor vador]; and thou shalt be called, The Repairer of the Breach [ Goder Peretz], The restorer of paths to dwell in. [Meshovev Netivot Lashevet ]
Now David's throne would have continued from David's time until Ad, without interruption, if his sons had kept Yahweh's covenant and testimony; even that testimony which should be delivered to them after David wrote -- "which," says he, "I shall teach them." This testimony was the Gospel of the Kingdom, which the Eternal Spirit had sent Jesus of Nazareth to proclaim to Israel -- the Spirit's words put into the mouth of the prophet like unto Moses, which a man can reject only at the hazard of damnation (Deut. 18:15-19).
But they despised the Covenant of Promise, and therefore the sons of David were excluded from the throne at the Babylonish captivity; and the throne itself abolished until the Son of God should come as "The Repairer of the Breach; the Restorer of the paths to dwell in" (Isaiah 58:12).
But David saw that the Son of God would not be allowed by the kings of the earth and their partizans to enter peaceably upon the possession of his throne; in fact that they would do their best to prevent it. In his last words he styles them "a thornbush to be thrust away, and consumed": and though they should fill the Son of God with iron and the shaft of a spear, he should nevertheless smite them (2 Sam. 23:5-7), and by the power of the Eternal Spirit, be established in Zion as King over the nations to the utmost bounds of the earth, as testified in the second Psalm.
Will a Jew read this, and persist in denying that Yahweh has a Son? In that testimony he will find predicted a conspiracy to murder "Yahweh's Anointed," and so get quit of his yoke. But that it is only temporarily successful, because of the interposition of Divine Power. Yahweh laughs their impotence to scorn, and tells them that notwithstanding all efforts against it, He will set His King on Zion, after He has raised him from the dead, according to the words, "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee; and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them to pieces as a potter's vessel" (Psalm 2).
Phanerosis - David's expectations of the Messiah.
13 If thou turn away thy foot [ regel] from [ on account of] the sabbath [Shabbos], from doing thy pleasure on my holy day [ chefetz on My Yom Kodesh]; and call the sabbath a delight [Shabbos an Oneg], the holy [Kedosh] of Yahweh, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways [darkhim], nor finding thine own pleasure [chefetz], nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in Yahweh; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth [eretz], and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father [nachalat Ya'akov Avicha]: for the mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it.
In this passage the conditions are stated upon which faithful Israelites might inherit the blessing typified by the rest of the seventh day. They were joyfully to devote themselves, to the way of the Lord. They were not simply to abstain from work, yawning and grumbling over the tediousness of the day, and wishing it were gone, that they might return to their ordinary course of life; but they were to esteem it as a delightful, holy, and honorable day.
Their pleasure was to consist in doing what the Lord required, and in talking of "the exceeding great and precious promises" he had made. To do this was "not speaking their own words," but the Lord's words. Such an observance as this, however, of the Sabbath day, implies a faithful mind and a gracious disposition as the result of knowing the truth.
Neither antediluvian nor postdiluvian could "call the sabbath a delight," who was either ignorant or faithless of the import of the promise "thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord, and ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed with the heritage of Jacob." A man who simply looked at the seventh day as a sabbath in which he was interdicted from pleasures, and conversation agreeable to him, and from the money-making pursuits in which he delighted, would regard the day more as a weekly punishment, than as joyous and honorable.
Though he might mechanically abstain from work, he did not keep it so as to be entitled to the blessing which belonged to the observance of the day to the Lord. It was irksome to him, because being faithless he perceived no reward in keeping it; and "without faith it is impossible to please God."
The reward to antediluvian, and postdiluvian patriarchs and Israelites, for a faithful observance, or commemoration of Yahweh's rest from His creation-work, was "delight in the Lord, riding upon the high places of the earth, and feeding with the heritage of Jacob." This was neither more nor less than a promise of inheriting the kingdom of God, which is a summary of "the things hoped for and the things unseen," or the subject matter of the faith that pleases God. When that kingdom is established all who are accounted worthy of it will "delight or joy in the Lord;" and occupy "the high places of the earth," ruling over the nations as His associate kings and priests; and share in the "new heavens and earth," in which dwells righteousness, when Jerusalem shall be made a rejoicing, and her people Israel a joy (Matt. 25:23, 34; Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:21; 5:9, 10; 20:4; Dan. 7:18, 22, 27; Isaiah 65:17, 8).
The knowledge and belief of these things was the powerful and transforming motive which caused Abel, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, &c., to "call the sabbath a delight, holy of the Lord, and honorable;" and to observe it as the sons of Belial cannot possibly do.
Elpis Israel Ch 2.