We are called to Love
In Isaiah 58, the prophet is speaking to the “religious:” specifically for their adherence to the practices which they deemed made them “righteous,” (fasting, crying out, wearing the right “religious” clothes and garments, praying “correctly”) while ignoring the fullness of living a lifestyle that glorified God and embodied what God taught the people to do.
These are the same types of individuals being addressed in Isaiah 29:13, which Jesus used to address the pharisees by quoting it in Matthew 15:8, which says, “‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And[a] honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.”
Love is always and has always central to the God’s message: in the laws of Abraham and the Jewish people from which Christianity grew; and in the gospel message of the Cross of Christ; and in the opening up blessings and religious acceptance to the Gentiles (those who are not Jews, who only have an inheritance of God due to the sacrifice of the cross).
These following words can also be great wisdom and encouragement to every Christian as this is what God told those who were living only by the law without focusing on its greater purpose. If one reads through Jewish law, it truly is based in love: fair treatment of neighbors, issues of how to stay healthy and live long, respecting each other, and the like. Just like the fullness of the Bible today, we must not only focus on the surface teaching, but allow the Spirit of God to show us its great depth that we may walk in the ways of Jesus every day.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”