Summary: The only path to the High Life! Isaiah must cry loud without fear or intimidation and show them their sins which they go on in. They have a clear knowledge of good and evil, sin and duty, and the convictions of their consciences concerning their sin.
Sermon. The Voice of Prophetic Preaching: Cry Loud and Spare Not
Isaiah 58: 1-14
Introduction -The Prophet Isaiah being assured of his vocation by the Spirit of God, sets himself alone against all the wickedness of His people. God gave him gifts, ability and knowledge, to discern between good and evil, and to be steadfast and endure to reprove the sins of the people, and not to flatter them. God makes an unusual request of Isaiah, his most elegant and learned Prophet. Isaiah has a wonderful handle of words. He has spent much time as a scribe in the presence of kings and royalty. But now God’s people were wrapped in Hypocrisy. They were attempting to cover their sins with a religious covering and vain outward show. Isa 28:20 “For the bed is too short to stretch out on, And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.” God wants the prophet to reprimand His people for their total rebellion or transgression and to expose their sinful conduct. Their sins were far from being a covered, hidden or excused. The hypocritical actions were really aggravating their sins and exposing their rebellion. Isaiah must cry loud without fear or intimidation and show them their sins which they go on in. They have a clear knowledge of good and evil, sin and duty, and the convictions of their consciences concerning their sin. So, this elegant chapter contains a severe reproof of the Jews on account of their vices particularly their hypocrisy in practicing and relying on outward ceremonies, such as fasting and bodily humiliation, without true repentance. They acted confused that nothing was changing.
After laying down a clear and comprehensive summary of their sin, Isaiah moves from their duty to God to their duties they owed to their fellowmen. These hypocritical Jews had high hopes to claiming the great promises of happiness and prosperity, but they had failed to live up to their obligations to God and to the performance of their duties to those around them. These Jews were fasting and praying for the great temporal and spiritual blessedness of the righteous. They had an overestimation of themselves. God sends his prophet to remind them that if they who walk in the ways of grace, they will always find the path to blessedness. Isaiah is commanded to cry loud, because it may be easier to show sinners their transgressions, than show the religious people their hypocrisy. We have here a people who have a form of godliness, but are not godly. They have ears that are dull of hearing and eyes that are blind. God commands Isaiah to Cry Loud and Spare Not! Why?
1. Through clear prophetic preaching, hypocrisy is exposed - Notice their outward show: (1.) They go to church and observe their hours of prayer: They seek me daily; they are very constant in their devotions and never omit them nor suffer any thing to put them by. (2.) They love to hear good preaching; They delight to know my ways, as Herod, who heard John gladly, and the stony ground, that received the seed of the word with joy; it is to them as a lovely song, Eze 33:32. (3.) They seem to take great pleasure in the exercises of religion and to be in their element when they are at their devotions: They delight in approaching to God, not for his sake to whom they approach, but for the sake of some pleasing circumstance, the company, or the festival. (4.) They are inquisitive concerning their duty and seem desirous only to know it, making no question but that then they should do it: They ask of me the ordinances of justice, the rules of piety in the worship of God, the rules of equity in their dealings with men, both which are ordinances of justice. (5.) They appear to the eye of the world as if they made conscience of doing their duty: They are as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinances of their God; others took them for such, and they themselves pretended to be such. Nothing lay open to view that was a contradiction to their profession, but they seemed to be such as they should be. Note, “Men may go a great way towards heaven and yet come short; nay, may go to hell with a good reputation.” Hypocrites are those who say one thing, but do another. They are people who loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. They loved the appearance more than the substance. We can only please God when our outward actions reflect our heart commitment and love for God and His people. Our actions must match our words. Prayer and fasting must be accompanied by gracious conduct.