Isaiah 58 The Servant Will Repair The Breach And Restore The Paths.
Isaiah, and the other servants of the LORD, were called upon to declare the sins of the people (v. 1). There was a real dichotomy that existed, they were very religious, daily seeking the LORD, seeking to learn his ways, even claiming to wanting to know the “ordinances of justice” (v. 2). They fasted and afflicted their souls, but were complaining that the LORD did not see or take notice (v. 3a). They feigned fidelity to the ceremonial or religious ordinances, but they failed to follow the rest of the law and the prophets (Cf. Lev. 16:29; 23:27). Like Jezebel’s scheme to Ahab, to use the pretence of religious devotion as an occasion for the murder and theft of Naboth, the nation now was very religious, even claiming to want to know the ordinances of justice, yet all their religiosity was just a cloak to cover their injustices (vv. 4-5 Cf. I Kgs. 21:9).
A better fast in their situation was, “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (v. 6). Like Nehemiah would later preach when they were returned from exile and rebuilding the city, the people needed to rebuild their lives together, by taking heed to the law, including its civil code, the very “ordinances of justice” they claimed to seek (Cf. Neh. 5:1-13). There are ordinances regarding the selling of sons and daughters as slaves (Ex. 21:7; Dt. 15:12-18), and charging usury to members in the covenant 22:25. Throughout Leviticus we find ceremonial laws alternating with the moral and civil ordinances. Then at Leviticus 25, after the ordinances related to the Sabbath of the seventh year (vv. 1-7), we find that regarding the year of Jubilee (vv. 8-17).
There is then the provisions for the seventh year (vv. 18-22), then comes the redemption of property, where we find that the land was not to be sold permanently, because the land was the LORD’s (vv. 23-34). There then follows at Leviticus 25:35-38 the dual command to lend to the poor, and to charge no usury (Cf. Dt. 15:7-11; Cf. Lev. 16:29). We then read of the ordinances regarding slavery, that any member of the covenant community who served as a slave was to be released at the year of Jubilee, because just as the land was the LORD’s, so are his servants-all members of the covenant community (vv. 39-55 Cf. Ex. 21:7). At chapter 26 there then follows the promise of blessing and cursing for fidelity to these moral and civil ordinances.
The later prophets also hearkened back to the moral and civil ordinances in the LORD’s judgments and calls to repentance (Cf. Ezek. 22:12; Zech. 7:5; Mal. 3:13-18), as did Ezra and Nehemiah (Cf. Neh. 5:9; Ezra 10:5), recognizing that this is what is involved in taking the covenantal oath, like the example of Josiah and the people under him (II Kgs. 23:3). Jeremiah also stated this after his revealing the LORD’s intent to renew the covenant with the remnant (Ch. 31; 34:8-11). This is what is involved with verses 6ff. If they fulfilled their covenantal oath they would then be a like a light dispelling the darkness, all to the glory of the LORD, and he would then hear their prayers (vv. 8-9a, 10b).
In the end, if they and we, keep the oath and follow the whole law, he will then guide us continually, satisfy our souls, strengthen our bones, and water us like a garden, with water that will not fail (v. 11). This is what is really involved in rebuilding and reconstructing “the old waste places…and raising “up the foundations of many generations” (v. 12a). However, we will not be able to do this in our own strength, therefore the LORD God promised his Servant, who would also “be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets (or Paths) to Dwell In” (v. 12b). With this Servant, his people will truly be keeping the Sabbath, resting from their own works, finding their delight in the LORD (vv. 13-14a). Then the people will be fed with the heritage of Jacob as covenantal blessings, for it is the LORD who has spoken (v. 14b).