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Isaiah 58: Unfailing Spring

For more context before you begin studying, read this introduction to the book of Isaiah.

Have you ever struggled with how to balance social action and a life of worship? Have you ever felt that God wasn't recognizing the work that you were doing for him? Have you ever wondered just what God requires of you? In chapters 56—66 we return to the homeland of Israel. And we quickly see that God's people are falling far short of God's idea of true worship. These chapters reveal how true worship will strengthen us and make us like a spring that never runs dry.

Warming Up to God

What frustrations do you currently have regarding the way you serve God? Make this a time of honest dialogue with the Lord.

Read Isaiah 58

Discovering the Word

  • In verses 1-3 the people seem very religious (after the destruction of Jerusalem, fast days were increased). They are puzzled by God's disinterest. What evaluation do these verses give of the people's religiosity?
  • God has some counter-questions for them in verses 3-5. Why does he refuse to take note of their fasting and to hear their prayers?
  • What positive requirements are laid out in verses 6-10 as those which the Lord desires and delights in?
  • What promises of the Lord's blessings are given in verses 6-12?
  • Philanthropy is not enough. Verses 13-14 introduce the subject of the Sabbath. How is our behavior on this holy day to be characterized?

Applying the Word

  • Meditate on the metaphors of verses 10-12. Which one (or ones) describes most vividly what you would like to see in your life?
  • How is the principle of keeping the Sabbath applicable today?
  • What steps do you need to take in your religious life and in your social behavior in order that your life may be a "well-watered garden" and a "spring whose waters never fail"?

Responding in Prayer

Pray that you will understand and experience true worship.

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