In Isaiah 58, Israel is playing the hypocrite, offering to God sacrifices and fasting without any real devotion. They convince themselves that God only wants a completed to-do list, and then they can go on their way without any lasting change. So they fast and sacrifice, but withhold justice from the poor, oppress others, blame, and maliciously talk in their relationships. They can sing songs on Sunday, but live however they want during the week. But here’s the bottom line: God hates external obedience without internal delight...He wants heart change, not merely lip service.


  • Have you ever had a job, an assignment, or a responsibility that you did well, but inside you hoped you never had to do that again? 

  • Have you ever hoped God would treat a “Christian” thing you did, such as singing, tithing, or being baptized, like it outweighed how you treated people?


  • According to verses 6 and 7, of what kinds of actions does God approve? How does James 1:26-27 reaffirm this?

  • Isaiah 58:8 begins with the word, “Then…”  Describe what results from living a sincere, devoted life.

  • Also check out parallel verses in Matt 23:23-28 and Luke 18:9-14. How do these passages also reflect how God feels about external acts without internal change?

Additional Resources:

True Fasting



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