BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 28, Day 3: Isaiah 62

Summary of passage:  The Lord will no longer remain quiet until Israel’s righteousness and salvation shines forth to other nations.  Israel will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand.  The Lord will bestow a new name on Israel of Hephzibah (my delight is in her) and Beulah (married) and be rid of Deserted and Desolate.  God will rejoice and be married to God.

Watchmen will be on Jerusalem’s walls who will never be silent.  Call on the Lord and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth (keep asking God for His glory to shine).

The Lord has sworn never to allow Israel to be conquered again (to have their food and wine taken by others).  Instead, Israel shall praise the Lord and eat and drink in the courts of the Lord’s sanctuary.  Prepare the way for others to come to Israel.  Raise the banner for nations.

The Savior will come bringing His reward and recompense with Him.  Israel will be called the Holy People, Redeemed of the Lord, Sought After, and the City No Longer Deserted.

Questions:

6)  Her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.  The nations will see your righteousness and all kings your glory.  You will be a crown of splendor.

7a)  Zion was called Deserted and Desolate.  Zion will be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her) and Beulah (married).

b)  To establish a new identity or an indication that person/thing has been transformed.

Genesis 17:5  “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.”

Genesis 17:15  “God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.'”

Revelation 2:17  “To him who overcomes…I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”

Revelation 3:12  “Him who overcomes…I will write on him my new name.”

c)  The whole world will now know God delights in Israel and is married to her.  He will no longer forsake His people.  I think other nations would be hesitant to take on Israel of try to conquer her knowing this.  I think it would make Israel a desired place to live.

8a)  The Lord has sworn to never again let Israel be conquered (let enemies and foreigners take Israel’s grain and wine), and instead Israel shall eat it in a sanctuary of safety.  Israel must prepare the way for all those to come to receive the Lord’s salvation.

b)  The Savior comes bringing His reward and recompense.  Israel will be called Holy People, Redeemed of the Lord, Sought After, and City No Longer Deserted

Conclusions:  Another message of hope from God to His people:  in the future you will be great.  These days are fun for me because it gives me something to look forward to when my day isn’t going quite as planned.  Our furnace broke 2 days ago and I was majorly stressed.  It’s fixed now but I was stuck in worry. I guess I should have read this passage!

End Note:  Good reference for 7b:  http://www.gotquestions.org/name-change.html

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BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 28, Day 2: Isaiah 61

Summary of passage:  The Lord has anointed me (Jesus speaking) with the Spirit of the Lord to preach the good news, bind up the brokenhearted, and bring freedom and light as Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.  Jesus will comfort and provide for those who mourn.  He will give them a crown of beauty, oil of gladness, and praise as they will be oaks of righteousness for the Lord’s splendor.

The people will rebuild the city as foreigners will shepherd their flocks and work the fields.  The people will be the priests of the Lord and be fed by the wealth of other nations.  They will receive a double portion and everlasting joy.  God will reward them with an everlasting covenant for all to see the Lord has blessed them.

Isaiah now says he will rejoice and delight in the Lord as a bride and groom does on their wedding day since God has given him salvation and righteousness.  The Lord will bring righteousness and praise for all the nations just as He does for the seeds that sprout and provide abundance.

Questions:

3a)  The anointed one is indisputably the Messiah, Jesus.  Anoint means to choose as if by divine election.  The Lord has chosen Jesus to preach good news (salvation) to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and bring freedom and release from darkness–save from sin.

b)  Because “the day of vengeance of our God” refers to Jesus’s Second Coming, not to His first.  It wasn’t the time to proclaim it; only time to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  Isaiah 34:8  “For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.”

4a)  They will have a crown of beauty instead of ashes (of mourning 2 Samuel 13:19), oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be oaks of righteousness displaying His splendor.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Released from the weight of my sins daily, comforted by God’s faithfulness and goodness, seen beauty where otherwise I wouldn’t have, been grateful and glad instead of melancholy and down in the dumps.

5a)  The people shall rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.  Foreigners will shepherd your flocks and work your fields (perform menial labor) as you will be the priests of the Lord and live on the wealth of other nations.  The people will inherit a double portion and have everlasting joy.

b)  In God’s faithfulness He will make an ever-lasting covenant with them so all who see them will know they are blessed by the Lord.  They will be God’s testament to His faithfulness and goodness.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  A wedding is one of the happiest days of people’s lives.  Isaiah is as happy as the bride and groom to receive God’s gifts of salvation and righteousness.  As seeds start to grow and we see them sprout, we see God’s miracle of life.  All nations will experience God’s miracles/gifts of righteousness and praise as surely as He makes the seeds sprout.

Conclusions:  I see God’s overwhelming blessings for His people, which is a sign of His incredible love for them.  We see God’s love in providing a Savior and providing for His people’s needs as they prosper as a nation.  He does this partly for the people but also as a testament to who He is.

But God doesn’t stop there:  Isaiah says God will bring His righteousness and praise to all the Nations (most of us today). Yeah!  Praise God!

End Note:  I spent a bit of time on Question 3b.  I was hoping to find a better scripture that spoke specifically of why Jesus didn’t want to address His Second Coming at that time in his ministry.  I’d appreciate any additional verses or ideas.  The following is the best explanation I found (scroll down to the commentary section):

http://bible.cc/isaiah/61-2.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 5 Isaiah 60:19-22

Summary of passage:  The Lord will be your everlasting light and glory instead of the sun and the moon to light our way.  The people’s days of sorrow will end.  They will be righteous and possess the land forever for they are the work of my hands, the shoot I have planted, the display for my splendor.  The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation.

Questions:

11a)  A happy, perfect life.  The Lord will be our everlasting light and glory.  Sorrow will end.  The people will be righteous and will possess the land forever.  The least of you will become great and will display God’s splendor.

b)  Both say all nations will flock to the city to see the Light; Jerusalem/Israel does not need the Sun or the Moon’s light for the glory of God is its light; the nations and kings will bring Jerusalem their splendor (riches, wealth); the gates shall forever be open; there will be no violence, shame or deceit.

c)  By faith and belief in what the Bible says.

12)  There is hope and something better to come.  God’s will and peace will prevail.  When I’m down in the muck of life, remembering God’s promises gives me strength to carry on.

Conclusions:  Another relatively easy day.  I like these days. It’s encouraging to know I don’t have to struggle to “get it” sometimes.  Either that or I’m just getting better at this after 9 months.  Studying the Bible is like anything you work hard at: you have to practice to get better and this year has definitely given me practice that’s for sure!

Just after this one year at BSF I feel much more confident in my knowledge of the Bible, reading the Bible, studying the Bible, praying to God and above all closer to God.  Not that its been easy–most definitely not. But I never gave up.  And the results show.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 4: Isaiah 60:15-18

Summary of passage:  God will make Israel the everlasting pride and joy of all nations and will drink the milk of nations and be nursed by royal breasts so they will know He is their Redeemer, Savior, and Mighty One.  God will bring the better material (gold instead of bronze, silver instead of iron, bronze instead of wood, and iron instead of stones) and will make peace and righteousness their ruler.  Israel’s walls and gates will be Salvation and Praise.  Violence will be vanquished.

Questions:

9a)  God will make Israel the everlasting pride and joy of all nations and generations.  Israel will drink the milk of nations and be nursed by royal breasts (will receive the wealth of nations freely as a mother nurses her baby).  God will replace bronze with gold, iron with silver, wood with bronze, and stones with iron (give better things).  God will give peace and righteousness, vanquish violence, ruin and destruction, and call Israel Salvation and Praise.

b)  God can make our walls (be it of our home or those around us) a place of salvation, peace, and righteousness.  He can turn whatever we have into something better.  We can be the pride and joy in our generation especially amongst our family.  We can receive God’s riches freely–as freely as a babe nurses (a mother gives her baby milk).

10)  Personal Question.  My answers:

Lord:  Ruler of my life

Your Savior:  God’s unfathomable love for me

Your Redeemer:  I can fall but God will catch me

The Mighty One of Jacob:  God can do anything for me, through me, and with me.

Conclusions:  It’s nice to have an easy day now and then.  The image of God blessing Israel as freely as a mother gives her milk to her baby speaks to me because I remember those days where baby came first in everything including when she or he wanted to nurse.  Great stuff!

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 3: Isaiah 60:10-14

Summary of passage:  Foreigners will rebuild Israel’s walls and kings will serve Israel.  Israel’s gates will never be shut so that all nations may bring Israel wealth in a triumphal procession.  Those nations that do not serve Israel will perish.  Israel shall  have the glory of Lebanon and God’s temple will be adorned.  All those who despise Israel and Israel’s oppressors will bow down before Israel and will call you the City of the Lord.

Questions:

5a)  Other nations will serve and come to Israel.  They will rebuild Israel’s walls and their kings will serve Israel.  Zion’s gates will be continually open as other nations bring their wealth in a triumphal procession led by their kings.  Israel’s oppressors and all who despise Israel will come bowing down before them and recognize them as the City of the Lord.

b)  1)  If the nations don’t, they will perish.  2)  From verse 9 to honor the Lord because He has endowed Israel with splendor.  3)  Because God has endowed Israel with the glory of Lebanon and the other nations desire that as well.  4)  To bring riches to adorn the place of my sanctuary (the Temple of the Lord).

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I would pray first and listen for something specific.  Otherwise, eveyrthing.

7)  Yes.  Ezekiel 40-48.  The detail in Ezekiel is so specific it had to be recorded for a reason:  so it could be built.  Further, nothing like what Ezekiel has described has ever existed and it would be hard for man to build such a place.  I think God will build such a place–a place only He can construct or only He can allow man to construct–for His people to worship in.  A central point of contact with Him.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  That eventually all nations and people will recognize, honor, and praise the One True God.  Israel will be the beacon on the hill for all the people coming to God.

Conclusions:  Lebanon was considered to have the best pine, fir, and cypress trees.  So the glory of Lebanon is epitomized by these commodities.

I like how all nations come to Zion because of its glory and splendor.  God has so blessed Zion that everyone else wants a part of it and they want to worship Zion’s God because they see how God has blessed them.  God’s works are tangible and so real the nations cannot deny God any longer.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 2 Isaiah 60:1-9

Summary of passage:  Isaiah says:  Arise and shine for your light (the Redeemer) has come along with the glory of the Lord.  Darkness covers the earth but the Lord shines over that with His glory.  Nations and kings come to God’s light.  All will assemble from afar.  You will be radiant with joy.  Wealth will be brought from far and wide.  Camels will cover the land (prosperity).  All from Sheba and Nebaioth will come, serve and praise the Lord.  All offerings will be accepted.  The temple will be adorned.  Ships, including those of Tarshish, will bring your sons, silver, and gold to the honor of the Lord.

Questions:

3a)  The light is the Redeemer (from Isaiah 59:20) or can also be the Lord as He rises upon us and His glory appears over us.  It has come to Israel, the peoples, Nations, kings–come for all.

b)  Isaiah 59:9-10:  Deep shadows where we grope along the wall  and feel our way without eyes.  We stumble as if it were twilight and we are like the dead.

4a)  Nations and kings will come.  All will assemble including your sons and daughters from afar.  You will be radiant.  All the wealth on the seas will be brought and all the wealth of the nations.  Camels will cover the land (a sign of prosperity) and all from Sheba will bring gold and praise (all nations will praise the Lord and bring gifts).  All offerings will be accepted.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I came back to church after college when I had my first daughter.  It was time.  I wanted her to know Jesus.  Recently, my friend who is a missionary has led by example as I watched her consult the Lord in every decision, listen, and obey unquestioningly.  She has been an example I can only hope to one day replicate.

Conclusions:  This passage has a lot of geographical references.

According to my Bible Atlas (Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G Rasmussen), Midian was a descendant of Abraham and Keturah and the ancestor of an Arabian tribe that bore his name.  Midian is mentioned 57 times in the OT.  They were a nomadic people but believed to have its center in NW Arabia.

Midian was also a part of Sheba: http://bibleatlas.org/full/midian.htm

Ephah is believed to be a separate tribe of Sheba like Midian but is unknown exactly where it was located:

http://bibleatlas.org/regional/ephah.htm

Sheba was on the Arabian peninsula now Yemen: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/sheba.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C Tenney, the camels mentioned carried trade goods from Sheba northward to the Mediterranean countries. Sheba was very wealthy through the control of the trade in perfumes and incense.  The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12), riding a camel as well bearing just such gifts.

Kedar is another name for Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/kedar.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Kedar is mentioned numerous times in the Bible (Isaiah mentions it in:  Isaiah 21:17, Isaiah 42:11).  Kedar also had great wealth and Zondervan infers due to the number of references in the Bible that Kedar must have been well-known to the Israelites from 1000-500 BC.  Kedar was also one of the distant lands.

Nebaioth is in Northern Arabia: http://bibleatlas.org/full/nebaioth.htm

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Tarshish’s location is debated but many scholars place it in Spain.  It is mentioned many times in reference to ships and ports but it was a very distant place as well.  It was on a ship headed to Tarshish that Jonah sought to flee from the Lord (Jonah 1:3; 4:2).

Map of Tarshish: http://bibleatlas.org/regional/tarshish.htm

We must remember the New World had not been discovered yet.  The people’s knowledge of the world was limited so these places represented the far reaches of the known world.

Camels were the people’s primary mode of transportation in Isaiah’s time (still are in parts of the Middle East).  Having many camels could be akin to having many cars today:  a sign of wealth and a means of their livelihood.

End Note:  It is fascinating to see how these locations crop up in the Bible.  I love Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney which gives Bible references and lists all the places these locations are in the Bible.

I would have never remembered the ship Jonah boarded was headed to Tarshish.  Knowing Tarshish’s estimated location really cements in my mind how much Jonah wanted to “escape” from God (not that he could escape from God).  Jonah wanted to go to the far ends of the Earth, the edge of the known world–that’s how bad he didn’t want to go to Ninevah.  Ninevah must have been a really, really bad place!  I cannot recommend this Dictionary enough.

What does this have to do with Isaiah?  Nothing.  And that’s why I love BSF.  It leads you to discover things you otherwise never would have.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 26, Day 5 Isaiah 59:16-21

Summary of passage:  The Lord saw there was no one to intervene for the people and was appalled.  So God used his own arm to bring salvation and righteousness, putting on a breastplate and helmet (reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-17).  He will come like a pent-up flood and will repay his enemies according to what they have done.  Men will fear the name of the Lord and revere His glory.  The Redeemer will come to those who repent of their sins.  The Lord’s covenant is with the people as His Spirit is upon them and His words He put in their mouths will not depart throughout the generations.

Questions:

10a)  There was no one, no man to intervene on Israel’s behalf–to show them the way back to God.

b)  Those needing redemption:  are lost and blind in the dark, rebellious, treacherous, liars, violent, evil, and have turned their backs on God.  The Redeemer:  just, righteous, truthful, honest, wears the helmet of salvation, will bring retribution to his foes, will come like a flood with the breath of the Lord behind Him.

11)  The Redeemer will come to those who repent of their sins and God’s spirit and words will never depart from them or their descendants forever

12)  Isaiah 51:16:  I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand…”

Matthew 4:4:  “‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Luke 4:1:  “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan…”

Matthew 3:16:  “Jesus was baptized…and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.”

Conclusions:  Sometimes I wish I could come like a pent-up flood with the breath of the Lord behind me. Or at least live as such.

I scoured the Internet for a good 45 minutes looking for verses for Question 12.  I found a lot of implied fulfillments such as Luke 22:20, which did not satisfy me.  I was looking specifically for where the Bible says Jesus is the Spirit and God has put words in Jesus’s mouth and was pretty unsuccessful.  Let me know what you all found!

I did find this website.  Fascinating stuff about the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies with a chart that gives the OT prophecy next to the NT fulfillment:

http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/messiah.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 26, Day 4 Isaiah 59:1-15

Summary of passage:  The Israelites wonder if God does not hear them and is unable to save them.  Isaiah explains it is their iniquities (sin) that has separated them from God and why He does not hear and does not save.  For the Israelites have:  lied, slandered, killed, ignored justice, done evil, ruin, destruction, and walked crooked paths.  Therefore, justice and righteousness are far away.  They search for the light but instead stumble along in the darkness.  They carry their sins with them; they rebel and turn their backs on God; they oppress, revolt, and lie.  So God does not grant justice, deliverance, nor righteousness because of the Israelites constant sins.

Questions:

8a)  It was important because why believe in God if you think He doesn’t hear and is helpless to help you?  The Israelites were the problem.  Sin separated them from God and before Jesus came in Isaiah’s time, you were constantly separated from God because as soon as you atoned, you sinned again.  It was important to understand who God was, who man was, and the relationship between the two at the time.

b)  Violence, murder, lies, slander, no justice, no truth, inherently evil, did evil, evil thoughts, ruin, destruction, walked crooked paths.  Sin originated with Adam and Eve, the Devil before that.  The sin originated in them.

9a)  Justice is driven back, righteousness stands at a distance, no truth.  We cannot see His light so we are blind and like the dead.  We growl and moan.  Justice and deliverance are no where to be found.  Ultimately, they are forever separated from God.

b)  Justice requires truth and honest.  To tell the truth affords justice.  You cannot be righteous without justice and the truth.  Revelation 19:11  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.”

Conclusions:  It’s amazing the Israelites still believed in God.  I can’t imagine constantly having to atone for all of my sins.  It seems tedious and ultimately depressing and fruitless.  Why atone when you’d just sin again?  It’s a good thing there wasn’t TV back then because if the Israelites had known of the prosperity of places such as Rome and other European opulence, they might have left Israel similar to those who flock to America.

The references in 8a were useful for background knowledge; not so much to answer the question.

This passage is depressing.  Sin was forever with the people; therefore, justice and righteousness were forever far away.  Why continue following God’s laws if you’ll never receive the good parts?  Why continue striving if the goal is unattainable?  So, I can understand some of the Israelites frustrations.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 26, Day 3 Isaiah 58

Summary of passage:  Here.

Questions:

5a)  The Sabbath was a day set aside by God to honor His Creations–Earth and everything upon it.  You shall get all of your work done in 6 days and rest on the 7th.  Thus, the Lord blessed it and made it holy.  The Sabbath was to be the sign of God’s everlasting covenant with His people.  Anyone who desecrated it was to be put to death.  If you delight in the Sabbath and keep it holy by not going your own way or doing as you please, then you will find joy in the Lord and feast on the inheritance of your father, Jacob.

b)  Matthew 12:1-12:  The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.  It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.

Mark 2:27-28; John 5:10:  The Sabbath was made for man so the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.  Jesus healed on the Sabbath and told the man to do work i.e carry his mat.

John 9:14:  Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Galatians 4:10 means to me that any day can be the Sabbath and probably should be. Colossians 2:16-17 means to me that you should not be judged by your activities on the Sabbath as in OT times, which were rituals put in place anticipating Jesus’s coming.  Now, the reality is Christ and if you accept Him, no one should judge you except God.  Jesus has put everything right with God for us.

Jesus made God’s law of keeping the Sabbath holy void.  Now, instead, we are to carry our rest in God in our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit, which dwells inside each of us.

To answer the question:  I’m not for sure what BSF is getting at here.  In my view, the list of things to do and avoid in Isaiah is now void if we have Jesus in our hearts (the Holy Spirit).  My attitude toward the Sabbath is my attitude every day as listed above:  live my life as Christ-like as possible, seeking God at every opportunity, and listening for prompts to share the Gospel with those around me. That’s not to negate the good works Isaiah says:  share your food, help the poor, etc.  I think those are now just examples of what Christ would do and therefore what we should do–examples of good deeds to help your fellow man.

6)  You will find joy in the Lord.  He will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.  Your light will break forth and your healing. Righteousness and the Lord shall be with you.  Then when you call out to the Lord (with your heart in the right place), He will answer:  Here am I.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The definition of delight:  a high degree of gratification, joy; something that gives great pleasure.

Yes, God gives me great pleasure.  Most days.  Sometimes I feel far away or my mind is caught up in human problems but when I do turn to God in those moments it is a true delight for He will speak to me if I listen and comfort me as I pour my heart out to Him.  Even when I’m doing good in life my time in the mornings with God is life-giving and nurturing and makes my days so much more fulfilling.  I do this daily in the morning when the kids are sleeping.

Conclusions:  I liked how BSF broke this up into what the Old Testament says about the Sabbath versus how this changed when Jesus came in the New Testament.

I wish BSF would have us read the whole passages like this quote below from Mark, which is just below Mark 2:27-28.  It gives the whole picture of the circumstances of Jesus’s healing and I think gives us a greater understanding.  It’s not a whole lot more to read.  My only conclusion is BSF just wants us to answer on those listed verses but if the goal here is to understand the word better I think we need more of the word.

Mark 3:4  “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Jesus asked the Pharisees.  I think this makes it clear good works on the Sabbath is acceptable.  But more than that, aren’t we called to do good works every day, not just the Sabbath?  Are we ever supposed to do evil or kill (kill unlawfully kill not kill a cow for meat)?

So, I will be curious to see where BSF is taking this one.  If they say everything is acceptable or only good works.  My belief from Day 2 is since God dwells in our hearts every day should be like the Sabbath: we go about our days, living like Jesus did, reading His word and praying, and sharing the Good News with others. Nothing should be condemned solely based on which day of the week this occurs (except of course sin–which is virtually every day).  For me, I sin every day.

I found this article on the Old Testament definition of the Sabbath versus the New Testament definition, curiously as I was researching Day 1:

http://www.gci.org/law/chr-sab3

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 26, Day 2 Isaiah 58

Summary of passage:  God directs Isaiah to shout out to His people, the house of Jacob, their sins.  Day after day they seek me (God) and are eager to know His ways as if they were a righteous and law-abiding nation.  They ask for just decisions and for God to be near.

Yet the people ask, “Why have we fasted and humbled ourselves if you (God) have not noticed?”

God answers, “You do as you please and exploit your workers.  You quarrel and strike each other.  You cannot fast as you do today and expect to be heard.”  In essence, the people’s hearts were not God’s heart.  They fasted for wrong reasons and with evil hearts.

God asks, “Is this the kind of fast I have chosen where you bow your head and lie on sackcloth and ashes?  Is this acceptable to the Lord?”  The answer is No.  God reveals the fast He desires:

“To loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, and break every yoke. To share your food with the hungry and provide the poor with shelter. To clothe the naked and not abandon your relatives.”

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, your healing will appear, you will be righteous with the glory of the Lord at your rear.

Then when you call I will answer: Here am I.  [So when you fast with a heart of God, He will answer.]  Your light will rise in the darkness if you do away with oppression, malicious talk, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed.

The Lord will guide you always and satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and strengthen you.  You will be a well-watered garden whose waters never fail.  You will rebuild and build up things.

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and doing what you please on God’s holy day then you will find joy in the Lord and He will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and feast on the inheritance of Jacob.

Questions:

3a)  The Israelites fasted, sought God day after day, seemed eager to know His ways, portrayed righteousness and obedience.

b)  They sought to please themselves.  On the day of the fasting, they did as they pleased and exploited all their workers.  They quarreled and hit each other.  They fasted without their heart on God.  They went through the motions of bowing their heads and putting on sackcloth and ashes but still their heart remained aloof.

c)  He did not answer their prayers and He told them what fasting He has chosen:  to see the oppressed free and break every yoke, to share your food with the hungry and provide shelter to the wanderer, to clothe the naked, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.  Only then will He say:  Here am I.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m working on praising God more in prayer and praying more for others.  When I feel far away from Him, I tend to pray less so I’m working on praying no matter what mood I am in.  Sometimes I do pray and my heart is not in it (mainly because my brain is elsewhere, dwelling on something I should have let go which I haven’t yet or on future events) but I feel it’s better than not praying at all and in time God will turn my mind and heart to Him again as long as I am seeking.

4a)  The purpose was to make atonement to God for your sins and to cleanse yourself of sins so you will be clean before the Lord.  The attitude was strict:  it must be on the tenth day of the seventh month and the people must fast (deny themselves) and not do any work. Everyone had to do this–whether native Israelites or foreigners living amongst them who did not necessarily believe in the Lord.  This was to be the Sabbath, the day of rest and to be a lasting ordinance.

b)  God desires an authentic fast:  one where we obeyed His commands and were eager to know Him.  We are to set the oppressed free, share with others what God has given us, and follow His will, not ours.  We are to do what pleases God, not ourselves.  And only then when we call will He answer.

c)  Donate to the poor or serve in soup kitchens.  Find charities that work with the poor and support them.  Help your relatives when they are on hard times (this could also be members of the church or Christian body as your own flesh and blood since we are all the body of Christ).  Give to your church to help your sisters and brothers who are struggling.  God ultimately wants our heart to lie where His does–which is with those struggling.

Conclusions:  God is so good!  This was EXACTLY what I needed to hear in this time in my life.  “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.”  So, no matter where I go, I will have no fear or inhibitions because God is guiding me and He will satisfy my needs in that place.  He will build things, which I constantly see in my work.

If I honor God by not doing my own thing or going my own way, then I will be filled with joy in the Lord, ride on the heights of the land, and feast on the inheritance of Jacob.

What better message right now in my life than one of Hope.  I think this is my favorite message in the Bible for I know I can’t live without it.

End note:  We are no longer required to do no work on the Sabbath since we now find rest in Jesus.  This was only required before Jesus died for us.  Hebrews 4 explains it best.  We enter a Sabbath-rest:  “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9 which is not necessarily on Sundays.  Or we are free to not technically “rest” at all.  But I think most Christians rest with God through prayer and in His word–essentially in God since His spirit now dwells in us.  See also Colossians 2:16-17 and Galatians 4:9-11