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Isaiah 58:1–12 The True Law of the Fast
The Lord reveals the law of the fast, employing remarkable and powerful symbols, several poetic parallelisms, and a series of seven rhetorical questions (see verses 5–7). This chapter encompasses the greatest scriptural treatise on this law. Verses 1–7 are a dialogue between the Lord and Israel. The remaining verses (8–12) comprise several promises and blessings to those who fast according to God’s law.
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice. God gives this command again in our dispensation (Doctrine and Covenants 34:10; 43:20). voice like a ram’s horn. The Lord commands Isaiah to raise his voice, in loudness and clarity, like he is blowing a ram’s horn (compare Alma 29:1–2).
they seek daily. Israel sought the Lord with an outward appearance but not with their hearts.
Why have we fasted, when You did not see it? Israel had indeed fasted, but improperly—they “found pleasure,” “oppressed” their employees, quarreled with each other, and demonstrated outward signs of fasting (“bow down his head”). sackcloth and ashes. Employed for mourning and self-abasement (1 Kings 21:17–29; Daniel 9:3–4), but Israel wore sackcloth as an outward sign, to be seen of others.
Is this not the fast that I choose. The Lord presented the proper way to fast—repenting of wickedness and sharing food and substance with the destitute. bonds/straps/yoke. The “bonds of wickedness” recall the chains of sin (2 Nephi 1:13, 23; 9:45); as a yoke controls a beast, sin steers the sinner. True repentance by the power of the Savior’s Atonement sets one free. your own flesh. As we help the poor and the naked, we cannot neglect our own family who has needs.
Isaiah presents a list of approximately a dozen remarkable blessings to those who fast according to God’s law: your light break forth like the dawn. Your spiritual light as bright as the sun emerging in the morning. Your righteousness will go before you/Lord will be your rearguard. These are military images; just as advanced guards (protecting the forward) and rearguards protect soldiers, your own righteousness will protect your front line, and the Lord’s glory will guard your posterior. Lord will answer. The Lord will grant that which we seek in prayer. your light in the dark will rise as the sun. We will become like Jesus Christ; our souls will be filled with light. your darkness will be as the noonday. Our darkest times will be as bright as the noonday, a source of light to us and to others. Lord will guide you continually. The Lord, as a shepherd, will guide us on His paths of righteousness. make your bones strong. This promise speaks to physical health during mortality as well as to the Resurrection. You will be like a watered garden. Fruitful, and of value to others. like a source of water. A blessing to others (see also John 7:38; Doctrine and Covenants 63:23). rebuild ancient ruins. Repair structures that were destroyed by Israel’s’ enemies, or, repair broken families, relationships, or the broken relationship between individuals and God, as the second half of the verse indicates: “You will raise up the foundations of many generations” and your posterity will be blessed.
Isaiah 58:13–14 Blessings of the Sabbath
The Lord sets forth His law regarding the Sabbath and the blessings received for obeying His law. The law of the fast and the law of the Sabbath go hand in hand; both require us to turn away from the things of the world and both provide us with freedom.
turn away your foot from the Sabbath. “Foot” here symbolizes our actions. We are to walk on the Lord’s path during His “holy day,” and we are not to tread the paths of pleasures. call the Sabbath. The Lord gives the Sabbath three significant, descriptive designations: “Delight,” “the Holy of the Lord,” and “Honorable.” When we keep the Sabbath, we receive the qualities associated with these designations—we become delightful, holy, and honorable. own ways/own pleasure/speaking idly. These expressions speak of someone who is centered on him- or herself rather than on God and His Sabbath.
I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth. The language recalls Deuteronomy 32:13 (see also Deuteronomy 33:29; Micah 1:2–3; Habakkuk 3:19). “Heights” may refer to God’s temples. I will feed you the inheritance of Jacob. Partake freely of the blessings promised to Jacob and the Abrahamic covenant.
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