In this chapter, God calls us to confront Israel, and describes various ways that he wants Israel to seek him and express their worship of him. It offers great hope to Israel, and describes many blessings that are already being fulfilled in Israel today.
This chapter calls us to not be quiet, but to confront Israel with her rebellious deeds.

If we apply this passage to today's end-time context, it is important that we confront Israel for the right reasons. There are many today who confront Israel, but for the most part they are those who refuse to recognise Israel's right to the land. From a biblical perspective, it is pointless trying to confront Israel if you haven't first got your head around God's covenant to them. In Exodus 32:13 Moses prayed, "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about I will give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.'” God forever covenanted the land to Israel, without any expiry date. In Deuteronomy 28, he warned them in no uncertain terms that their ability to remain in it was conditional upon them obeying his law, and that if they did not, they would be uprooted from the land and scattered among the nations. But God goes on to say, in Deuteronomy 30:1-5 "When you have experienced all these things, both the blessings and the curses I have set before you, you will reflect upon them in all the nations where the LORD your God has banished you. Then if you and your descendants turn to the LORD your God and obey him with your whole mind and being just as I am commanding you today, the LORD your God will reverse your captivity and have pity on you. He will turn and gather you from all the peoples among whom he has scattered you. Even if your exiles are in the most distant land, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. Then he will bring you to the land your ancestors possessed and you also will possess it; he will do better for you and multiply you more than he did your ancestors." Even though the Jews were kicked out of the land of Israel for nearly 2,000 years, the land of Israel is unique in that it is a land subject to an eternal covenant.

With regard to their exile by the Romans, Jesus stated the main reason for such judgment when he prophesied against Jerusalem in Luke 19:44, "They will demolish you – you and your children within your walls – and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” Today, some Christians deny Israel's right to the land on the basis that they have yet to repent of the sin for which they were exiled. Although that is true, it is also clear from various scriptures which prophesy Israel's end-time return that God will restore them first to the land and later to faith in Jesus as their Messiah. Isaiah 57:17-18 is one such example - God promises to heal them even when they are still disobedient and stubborn. Their national repentance as portrayed in Zechariah 12:10-11 comes after they have returned to the land, "I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. On that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation at Hadad-Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo."

Therefore, if we are to confront Israel with her rebellious deeds, as commanded here in verse 1, it needs to be primarily over the issue of recognising Jesus as their Messiah, the sin that caused their exile in the first place.

In verse 2, God affirms them for seeking him day after day, wanting to know his requirements. He says "they want to be near God". This is what you see when you watch Jews at the wailing wall in Jerusalem. They want to get as close as they can to where God's presence used to fill the temple. In verse 3, God acknowledges that they fast and humble themselves. In verses 3b to 5, God takes issue with some of things they do while they are fasting, but as Christians we need to be careful of trying to take the speck out of our brother's eye when there is a plank in our own. It is God's place to judge Israel's actions and motives, but be careful how you affirm such judgment, for you probably don't want God to take too close a look at you. At least they are fasting - how often do we Christians fast?

In verses 6 to 7, God describes the kind of behaviour that he associates with true fasting. It is to release the oppressed from bondage and reduce their burdens. It is to take care of the poor and needy, to not turn your back on your own flesh and blood. This is a lesson that Israel learned in the Holocaust - to never again turn their backs on their brethren in need. If you want demonstrations of that, watch the following videos about Israel's rescue of the Israeli hostages from Entebbe in 1976, or of the Ethiopian Jews in the 1980's:

Hostage Rescue

Rescue of Ethiopian Jews

In verse 8, God promises that if they act like this he will then restore them, and his splendour will be their rear guard. Israel has experienced incredible restoration in all sorts of ways since 1948, against overwhelming odds. There is no denying that God has been their rear guard. In verse 9, God promises to respond to them, and in the end times God will definitely do so, as is clear from so many end-time prophecies about his deliverance of Israel. In verse 10, God tells them to actively help the hungry and feed the oppressed. Perhaps how they treat the Palestinians is God's test in the midst of all this, with their treatment of those in the West Bank being the most sensitive issue. God promises Israel that her darkness will be turned into light. From various end-time passages, we know that at some point Antichrist will invade Jerusalem, and Israel will experience another very dark episode. But this time round, Israel is going to experience God's deliverance and see his light through the darkness in ways they did not see during the Holocaust.

In verse 11, God promises to continually lead Israel, to feed them even in parched regions, to give them renewed strength, and to make them like a spring that continually produces water. This is most likely an allusion to Israel's end-time exodus to a safe place in the desert after Jesus divides the Mount of Olives, as in Isaiah 43:19-21 where the wild animals are seen to honour God for his provision to Israel during her time in the wilderness.

Verse 11 is a very interesting verse in regard to Jesus' quotation of it in John 7:37-39, "On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)" Here, Jesus combines Isaiah 55:1 with Isaiah 58:11, and interprets the water metaphorically to be speaking about the Holy Spirit. If we want to experience the Holy Spirit like a spring that continually produces water, or as rivers of living water, it is significant that the promise comes here in verses 10 to 11 in relation to us actively helping the hungry and feeding the oppressed. If all we do is mix with those who are rich and comfortable, perhaps it is no wonder than we struggle to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and he seems more like a well within us that often runs dry.

Verse 12 promises that Israel will rebuild her perpetual ruins, reestablish her ancient foundations and repair her broken walls, making the streets inhabitable again. Israel continues to fulfil this promise today. Today, Israel's archeological heritage is the responsibility of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which seeks to uncover and preserve that heritage. At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jerusalem will once again be in ruins, and this verse will see renewed fulfilment in the Millennium.

In verse 13, God stresses the importance of Israel observing the Sabbath. In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, observance of the Sabbath is the fourth and most detailed of the ten commandments. Observance of the sabbath is a weekly expression of commitment to, and reliance upon, Jehovah and his covenant promises. It is intended as a constant reminder that although we should work hard for six days out of seven, ultimately our prosperity comes from God, and not from our own efforts. Without God's blessings, our efforts are ultimately futile. Although many Christians treat Sabbath observance as optional, the continued importance of this commandment is stressed in Hebrews 4:9-11, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience". This reflects the prophetic significance of the sabbath. In Genesis, the six days of creation were followed by God resting on the seventh day. In 2 Peter 3:8-13, Peter tells us that in relation to the second coming and events at the end of the age, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. What he seems to be saying is that the six days of creation correspond prophetically to six thousand years of human history. The seventh day on which God rested corresponds to the Millenium, during which God's people will find rest and joyful communion with God.

Verse 14 affirms that faithful observance of the sabbath will result in Israel experiencing joy in her relationship with the Lord, and great prosperity in the land. This is a sure promise, for it says, "Know for certain that the Lord has spoken".
Places: Israel
Symbols: Holy Spirit as living water, True fasting
Tags: Confronting Israel, True fasting, Condition of Israel today, Helping the poor, Releasing the oppressed, Restoration of Israel, Return of exiles to Israel, Israel as land under covenant, Holy Spirit as living water, Repairing broken walls, End-time exodus, Overwhelming joy, Prosperity for Israel, Millennial Israel, Importance of Sabbath
The Lord Desires Genuine Devotion
58 “Shout loudly! Don’t be quiet! Yell as loud as a trumpet! Confront my people with their rebellious deeds; confront Jacob’s family with their sin!
2 They seek me day after day; they want to know my requirements, like a nation that does what is right and does not reject the law of their God. They ask me for just decrees; they want to be near God.
3 They lament, ‘Why don’t you notice when we fast? Why don’t you pay attention when we humble ourselves?’ Look, at the same time you fast, you satisfy your selfish desires, you oppress your workers.
4 Look, your fasting is accompanied by arguments, brawls, and fistfights. Do not fast as you do today, trying to make your voice heard in heaven.
5 Is this really the kind of fasting I want? Do I want a day when people merely humble themselves, bowing their heads like a reed and stretching out on sackcloth and ashes? Is this really what you call a fast, a day that is pleasing to the Lord?
6 No, this is the kind of fast I want. I want you to remove the sinful chains, to tear away the ropes of the burdensome yoke, to set free the oppressed, and to break every burdensome yoke.
7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and to provide shelter for homeless, oppressed people. When you see someone naked, clothe him! Don’t turn your back on your own flesh and blood!
8 Then your light will shine like the sunrise; your restoration will quickly arrive; your godly behavior will go before you, and the Lord’s splendor will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call out, and the Lord will respond; you will cry out, and he will reply, ‘Here I am.’ You must remove the burdensome yoke from among you and stop pointing fingers and speaking sinfully.
10 You must actively help the hungry and feed the oppressed. Then your light will dispel the darkness, and your darkness will be transformed into noonday.
11 The Lord will continually lead you; he will feed you even in parched regions. He will give you renewed strength, and you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring that continually produces water.
12 Your perpetual ruins will be rebuilt; you will reestablish the ancient foundations. You will be called, ‘The one who repairs broken walls, the one who makes the streets inhabitable again.’
13 You must observe the Sabbath rather than doing anything you please on my holy day. You must look forward to the Sabbath and treat the Lord’s holy day with respect. You must treat it with respect by refraining from your normal activities, and by refraining from your selfish pursuits and from making business deals.
14 Then you will find joy in your relationship to the Lord, and I will give you great prosperity, and cause crops to grow on the land I gave to your ancestor Jacob.” Know for certain that the Lord has spoken.