Repairer of Broken Walls and Restorer of Streets (Isaiah 58)

As the Israelites camped below Mount Sinai preparing themselves to meet God (Exodus 19), I have been camped in Isaiah 58 for months now wrestling with this, meeting the Lord there.

When you want something (or just the opposite), you start to see it and notice it everywhere.  As I’ve been spending time in this text and talking about it with others, I’ve continually been surrounded by it. As if I were about to pack up camp thinking I was done here, the Lord comes in and just shows me that “no, we’re staying here a little longer.”

I have a tendency to be a “doer”. God is always doing a work in my heart to free me from any appearance or performance to sitting and resting in what He has already done. 

Here are the things this chapter has stirred, challenged, deepened in me from some commentaries on this chapter I’ve been reading. Take some time to read the chapter and after you read it, listen to an audio of it, you’ll hear it fresh and new every time.

The discipline of fasting in this text can be any spiritual disciple we practice. Is it for show, appearance, approval or from a genuine authentic heart after the Lord?

Isaiah 58:1-3
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ ”

God describes the appearance and how the people felt God was unfair to them. They are asking is everything we are doing in vain, what is the point of this if you are not answering OUR prayers? Seem eager – they have the appearance, but not the heart.

Isaiah 58:3-5
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”

God did not accept their fasting when it wasn't connected with a sincere heart of obedience. They fasted for needs certainly, but selfish needs. Though their prayer was accompanied with fasting, it was still a selfish, even wicked prayer - that God did not answer. The purpose of their fasting was to glorify themselves. The answer isn't to stop fasting, but to get right with God and make your fasting more than superficial. Real, selfless, prayer and fasting that is partnered with real repentance has great power before God.

Empty doing. Outward obedience without an inward heart and affection is meaningless.

Colossians 3:1-3 tells us that since our old life/nature/flesh died with Christ, we are also raised with Him who is seated at the right hand of God. Our life is hidden in Christ…Hebrews 4:16 tells us to then approach the throne of grace with confidence.

Being at the right hand of a king meant intimate fellowship, meant you have the very ear of the king. We are all things in Christ. We are seated with Christ at the right of God. We have the ear of the King! What am I doing with that? Intentional? Selfish? Petition for the needs of others, our city, nation? Aligning my heart and prayers with His?

Isaiah 58:6-7
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

Getting right with God begins first by stopping the evil we do towards others. Getting right with God continues by doing loving things for others. 

Isaiah 58:8-12
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

v. 10 "your light will raise in the darkness" - it's an enlightened life
v. 11 "the Lord will guide you continually" - it's a guided life
v. 11 "satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land" - it's a satisfied life
v. 11 "like a well-watered garden" - it's a fragrant life
v. 11 "like a spring of water, whose waters never fail" - it's a freshly sustained life
v. 12 "you shall build up the old waste places" - it's a productive, healing life

The picture of being called “Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” (also Isaiah 61:4) is beautiful and something I want my life to be about. I want a life ministry of reconciliation, restoration, refreshment. Jesus came to restore and repair what was broken.

Isaiah 58:13-14
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

God calls them to take delight in the heart and the purpose of the Sabbath, to honor Him, trust Him, not doing your own thing your own way, laying down your efforts. The rest we enter into, as Christians is something to experience every day, not just one day a week. The Sabbath commanded here was a shadow of things to come, the substance is of Christ. We have a rest in Jesus that is ours to live in every day. Though we are free from the obligation of the Sabbath, we dare not ignore the importance of a day of rest, God has built us so that we need rest. An important aspect to this chapter is showing is that what we don't do isn't enough to make us right before God. Our walk with God shouldn't only be defined by what we don't do.

Grace leads to justice. Because Jesus met the conditions of the law, we are free to be unconditionally loved and accepted by that very covenant that He fulfilled on our behalf. When are hearts grasp this incredible, beautiful, undeserved grace, love, service and acts of justice outwork themselves.

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings?...He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require (desire) of you? To ACT JUSTLY and to LOVE MERCY and to WALK HUMBLY with your God.” Micah 6:7-8

There is SO much more I want to share about this chapter, but would love to hear what this text works in you. What does it look like to act justly? What does repairing broken walls and restoring streets look like in our city today?

What issues stir your heart greatly with “this is not as it should be?” and pray about what the Lord wants to do with that. Feel guilty? Maybe...but guilt is not lasting. A heart so warmed by the gospel cannot help, but act in such a way of meeting the needs of those in needs. Matthew 25:31-46