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Chinese2/15/2020English
經文:以賽亞書五十八至五十九章
鑰節:「耶和華的膀臂並非縮短不能拯救……」(59:1)
提要

        五十八章一開始以賽亞宣佈,一個上帝的先知的職責──要膽大、清楚的指責犯罪的人,為要顯明犯罪的嚴重性及上帝信息的重要性;以賽亞指出猶太人的罪是自義及虛偽(23:25~28)。猶太人以虔誠的宗教儀式向上帝禱告又禁食(58:4),他們以為能騙過上帝及人,但上帝看的是人的內心,祂知道他們的動機和罪(29:13;提後3:15),祂並不因他們敬虔的外貌而感動,祂所要的是悔改謙卑的靈(57:15)及他們全心的尋求祂。

        律法上的禁食是為贖罪(利16:29;民29:7),目的是要人悔改謙卑,以專心禱告親近上帝,禁食也是敬拜上帝的一種方式,但猶太人忽略了真心的悔改,也不願親近上帝,只是為了自己的喜好,尋求自我的滿足罷了,甚至守安息也是如此;猶太人禁食時欺壓僕人,互相爭吵,暴力相向(58:3~4),他們還批評審判外表看來靈性崇高的人(58:9)。

        為此以賽亞教導真禁食的特徵(王上21:27~29):真禁食並不在於外表的禁食(太2:16~18)而是上帝讓那些屈於敵人能力之下,心中有重擔的人,一種釋放的自由,這種禁食能折斷任何的軛,使得自由(靈裡和身體58:6);真禁食是有憐憫的情懷,能操練我們對人的愛,如食物分給人,親切款待人,將衣服給需要的人,如此行像做在上帝的身上(58:7;太25:34~40;尼5:5;伯31:13~22;結18:7~9,16~17);真禁食是討上帝的喜悅,照祂心意而行,且得上帝的賜福,上帝的光將照耀,喜樂將取代哀傷(59:8,10);禁食禱告時,上帝將保護、引導你,回應你的祈求,讓你心滿意足,有能力多結果子(太7:15~20),祂又復興你,使你繼承永遠的生命(58:11~12)。

        五十九章一開始以賽亞便說到,罪人會經歷上帝的憤怒而不是祝福;猶太人道德的破裂、生命的墮落,將自己的身體獻出做為犯罪的工具,取代成為榮耀上帝的工具(59:3;71:5~6;羅6:13;林前6:15;太5:29~30),為何上帝不從亞述人的壓制中釋放他們,就因他們犯罪,使他們與上帝分離,上帝定意不回應他們(59:1~2;箴15:8,29;詩66:18),但以賽亞也強調,上帝若願意可以在任何時間拯救他們。自從上帝遠離他們開始,上帝的祝福如公義、平安、光照、救贖、真理、公平等都離他們而去。

        其實宇宙的墮落(與羅3:10~18對照)才是問題的根源,以賽亞及餘剩的公義子民,都明白他們有罪,要在上帝面前認罪悔改存心謙卑(57:15),但因過去他們是邪惡的,又敬拜邪惡,以致上帝看到世上沒有公義,又無人有權能替他們說項時,心中便不悅;為此,彌賽亞這一位能實現上帝的預言,又有上帝的靈能安慰復興地上的人就降生了。彌賽亞是人類的救贖主,也是上帝所差遣降世為人的耶穌基督(59:15~16);祂能給人公義和救贖,並且有一天祂要再來,大有熱心的制服仇敵對祂子民的攻擊,祂要審判全地,全地人要尊崇祂,因祂是上帝;趁現在仍有機會,以色列的後裔當要悔改(上帝恩典仍延續時,55:6);若有人從罪中回轉(犯罪在希伯來文的字根意思是背叛),他將與上帝永住在錫安,成為真以色列人,這是上帝與人立永遠的約。

禱告

        主啊!您的僕人以賽亞再次提醒我們,您的手對我們並未短縮,您將我們從毀壞我們的事物中救出來,像一個父親能將孩子從傷害的情況中救出一樣,同樣我們用單純的心相信您偉大的手必要拯救我們。奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Isaiah 58&59
Key Verse:"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save..."(Isaiah 59:1)
Overview

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        Isaiah begins chapter 58 by exclaiming one of the duties of the true prophet of God: to boldy and loudly rebuke the people for their sins and transgression, thus showing the seriousness of sin and the importance of his message from the Lord. Isaiah describes Judah's self-righteousness and hyprocrisy (cf. Matt. 23:25-28). The pious of Judah thought they could manipulate God and others by performing outward observances of religion and praying the "right way" to God, such as through fasting (58:4), but God, who sees the heart, knew their motivations and sin (29:13; 2 Tim. 3:5) He was not impressed with their religiosity. He is impressed by the "contrite and humble spirit" (57:15) of those who truly seek Him with their whole heart.

        The only fast the Law required was for the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29ff; Num. 29:7), and the purpose was to repent, humble yourself, and draw closer to God through prayer and focusing on Him. Fasting is a legitimate expression of worship, but these people ignored true repentance and did not draw closer to God. Rather, they used fasting for their selfish interests, pursuing their own pleasure, even on the Sabbath day. They oppressed their servants and aroused debates and strife, even to the point of violence (58:3-4). They also criticized and judged by pointing their finger at others with a facade of spiritual superiority (58:9).

        By raising questions, Isaiah teaches the characteristics of true fasting. Having the external signs of fasting (e.g. 1 Kings 21:27-29) does not necessarily mean that one is truly fasting (cf. Matt. 6:16-18). True fasting can be experienced only in the liberty God gives from those sins which are heavy burdens that hold us under the power of the enemy. This Jggjg. of fast should also help to break, thg yoke that stops others from having liberty (both spiritually and physically; 58:6). True fasting involves having a sincere compassion for and a showing of practical love to others, such as giving food, hospitality, and clothing to the needy; for in so doing, it is done as unto the Lord (58:7; Matt. 25:34-40; Neh. 5:5; Job 31:13-22; Ezek. 18:7-9, 16-17)..Jrue fasting, then, is in pleasing God and doing His will, which results in promised rewards and blessings. The light of God's favour will shine upon you and joy will follow your sorrow (59:8a, 10). God will protect and guide you continually, answer your prayers, give you satisfaction and strength, make you fruitful (Matt. 7:15-20), restore you, and give you your inheritance of eternal life (58:11-12).

        The opposite is true for sinners, however. They will experience only God's wrath, not His blessings. This is what Isaiah sets out to explain at the start of chapter 59. He tells of the terrible moral breakdown and depravity of life in Judah, describing the various members of the body as being used for instruments of sin, instead of being used to glorify God (59:3, 7; cf. 1:5-6; Rom. 6:13; 1 Cor. 6:15; Matt. 5:29-30). He sets forth their sinful condition in order to explain why God did not give them deliverance from the Assyrian oppression. However, Isaiah stresses that God was able to save them at any time He may have chosen, but because of their iniquity, which separated them from Him, He purposely did not respond to them (59:1-2; Prov. 15:8, 29; Ps. 66:18). Since God was far from them, the blessings of God, such as justice, righteousness, peace, light, salvation, truth, and equity, would also be far from them.

        The root problem was universal depravity (compare Rom. 3:10-18). Isaiah and the righteous remnant with him recognized this condition and confessed their sin, thus showing themselves to be of "a contrite and humble spirit" (57:15); and because they departed from evil, they were preyed upon by the wicked. When the Lord saw this, He was displeased that there was no justice for these few and that He had no man with authority to intercede for them. Therefore, the only One who could comfort and revive them by His Spirit, in fulfillment of His promises, was the Messiah, their Redeemer, whom He Himself would send in the person of Jesus Christ (59:15-16). He came clad with righteousness and salvation (an armour He also gave to His followers — Eph. 6:11-17), and one day He will come again clad with vengence and zeal to repel the attacks of the enemy against His people. He will judge all the nations, who will then come to reverence and respect Him for who He is — God. The children of Israel, who repented while there was still time (God's grace extended; cf. 55:6), and who turned from "transgression" (a word coming from the Hebrew root meaning "to rebel"), will dwell with Him forever in Zion and become a part of the true (spiritual) Israel with whom God will make an everlasting covenant (cf. Rom. 11:23, 26-27; 9:6-8).

Prayer

        Lord, once again Your prophet Isaiah reminds us that Your Hand is big enough'to reach us, pick us up, and save us from things that would destroy us. As little children can be rescued from things that hurt by a father's hand, even so when we trust Your gnat hand with child-like faith, You save us.


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