Sabbath School Lesson for March 6-12, 2021

Overview of Lesson 11 (Isaiah 55-58)

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Our focus of study this week will be on chapters 55 and 58. Here we will see…

  • Sunday: The price of our salvation (Isaiah 55:1-7)
  • Monday: Why God’s thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-13)
  • Tuesday: What was wrong with their fasting (Isaiah 58:1-5)
  • Wednesday: The kind of fast God prefers (Isaiah 58:6-12)
  • Thursday: The true meaning and role of Sabbath worship (Isaiah 58:13, 14)

Isaiah has shown us the kind of love that comes from the Servant. He has made us feel like eyewitnesses to the suffering of this Redeemer/King. We are led to appreciate the sacrifice it meant for us to have triumph over sin and death.

Now, Isaiah turns to the reader’s response to this enormous sacrifice. How can we reflect His love in a way that includes our enemies? This is the kind of love that God reveals through the cross, and the kind we must deliver to others in return.

Memory Text: “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as noonday.” Isaiah 58:10 NKJV

At the beginning of our lesson was an eye-opening illustration of how to wage love. We usually hear about waging war, but a Jewish couple (right here in Lincoln, Nebraska) treated their oppressors by bringing them food. They consistently and sincerely delivered love, not revenge, for members of the Ku Klux Klan, who had threatened and tried to intimidate them.

This was a good example of how to treat our enemies. And for them, thankfully, it worked. Their new friends even considered becoming Jewish! Even without such a successful outcome, we are expected to love our enemies, even when they don’t love us back.

A couple of things should be noted in this memory text. The effort we make to feed the hungry must come from a loving heart, in order to satisfy the emotional wounds of the recipient, as well as his physical hunger. Remember, too, that the darkness is not only lifted for the recipient, but for the giver as well. The verse ends with: “YOUR darkness shall be as noonday”.

Sunday: Buy Something Free? (Isaiah 55:1-7)

The first verse, Isaiah 55:1, is rather puzzling. We are told to buy something, but that it’s free. This is a reminder that our freedom comes with a price for someone. And that someone is God. He paid for our salvation with the life of His own dear Son.

This is the bargain to beat all bargains. The most expensive items in the universe, forgiveness and eternal life, come with the lowest price–nothing but our acceptance of it.

The rest of the passage reveals how and why God’s offer is so valuable. And Isaiah 55:6, 7 tells how we can take advantage of it. We must seek Him, call upon Him, and return to Him. It’s that simple.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 55:1, 2 John 4:14, and 1 Peter 1:18, 19

  • What kind of thirst is spoken of in these verses?
  • What is the only thing that can satisfy this thirst?

Isaiah 55:6, 7

  • How do we return to God?
  • What does God do when we return?

Monday: High Thoughts and Ways (Isaiah 55:8-13)

Isaiah 55:8, 9 begins a passage that exalts God, and gives us further proof that seeking Him is the way to eternal life. Verse 9, in particular, states that God is in heaven. But Isaiah 57:15 reminds us that He also dwells in the hearts of man.

“For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’ ” Isaiah 57:15 NKJV

The rest of chapter 55 brings to mind scenes of nature and the God who brought our world into existence. We are reminded that God is loving, but also powerful. He is worthy of our trust and devotion, both for creating us and making our re-creation possible through the sacrifice of His Son, the Suffering Servant.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 55:8, 9 and Isaiah 57:15

  • Where can God be found?
  • Why is it important to know this?

Isaiah 55:10, 11 and Isaiah 45:23

  • In what ways does God’s word bear fruit?

Isaiah 55:12, 13 and 1 Chronicles 16:33

  • When will the trees clap, or rejoice?

Tuesday: Fast Friends (Isaiah 58:1-5)

This chapter (Isaiah 58) is vital in understanding what God expects from His people. The whole idea of a fast was and is to prepare our hearts to receive His presence there.

The mention of a trumpet in verse 1 brings to mind, for the Israelite, the ram’s horn trumpet (called a shofar). This instrument was blown ten days before the Day of Atonement, signaling the beginning of fasting that was required to prepare for the event. It was the most solemn activity in God’s sanctuary and only done once a year.

God, however, shares with us how to better prepare our souls and cleanse our lives spiritually during a fast.  Their fasts were lacking in sincerity and humility. God tries to show us how we can improve our attitudes and transform religious rituals into events that are meaningful and uplifting.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 58:3, 4 and Zechariah 7:5

  • How can we make our fasting, or any spiritual preparation, more about God and less about us?

Wednesday: Fast Fight (Isaiah 58:6-12)

God continued His counsel on fasting by offering us concrete examples of ways to counter the pride that separates us from God. Providing food, clothing, and shelter to those in need are mentioned in Isaiah 58:7.

The fast that God chooses consists of sacrificial giving, which frees people from their bonds of physical impoverishment, but also from their spiritual bondage to Satan. Acts of kindness and compassion reduce our natural pride and allow others to experience the same forgiveness and love that blesses us.

Isaiah has shown us the suffering and sacrifice of the Messiah, but now we understand that His whole life and ministry consisted of sacrificial giving.

Jesus repeatedly taught us to give. He even made the statement that when we do these things for others, we are doing it for Him (Matthew 25:40). And, of course, James identified “pure and undefiled religion” as helping those who are marginalized in the world, such as widows and orphans, two groups who were often neglected.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 58:6-9

  • What are some of the ways God chooses for us to fast?
  • Why are these ways helpful in reducing pride?

Isaiah 58:10-12

  • What is the result of this kind of fasting?
  • Why does it make us a “Repairer of the Breach”–what breach is it talking about?

Thursday: A Time for Us (Isaiah 58:13, 14)

The Sabbath, along with the practice of fasting, can become a burden and more likely to lead to pride. Therefore, God includes it in this chapter.

The last two verses of Isaiah 58 focus on the Sabbath. The Day of Atonement, among other feast days, occurred on the seventh-day Sabbath. This was the day God designated for holy use, all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

This brief reminder of the importance of the Sabbath provides valuable insight into what God expects from its observance. It should be a a day of delightful pleasure. We are honored with God’s presence on this special day and are invited to take full advantage of God’s gift of time.

Jesus’ life was an example of how the Sabbath can help us get to know God better. Luke’s Gospel tells us He began His Galilean ministry by preaching in the synagogues of the region on that day (Luke 4:14, 15).

At other times, He broke their traditions by healing on the Sabbath, and afterward told them that doing good on the Sabbath was acceptable to God (Matthew 12:12). He reminded them that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Just as with fasting, they had made it a heavy burden for the people, not to mention a source of pride, which was not God’s intent at all.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Isaiah 58:13, 14

  • Why do you think the Sabbath is brought up here, right after talking about fasting?

Luke 4:14, 15, Matthew 12:12, and Mark 2:27

  • What principles of keeping the Sabbath do we see in the life of Jesus?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Like other prophets, Isaiah was concerned about two ways that God’s love was abused. The people either placed their faith in other gods or things, or they worshipped God, but did it with empty rituals and ceremonies.

Isaiah goes beyond informing us who the Messiah is. He also addresses ways we must prepare ourselves for His arrival. We can never welcome Him adequately without doing all we can to receive Him into our hearts now, on a daily basis.

The Holy One of Israel is looking for humble, contrite hearts. According to Isaiah, we must develop attitudes that are less conceited and more forgiving and compassionate.

Their Sabbathkeeping and fasting were two of the most obvious ways they were showing pride and neglecting their neighbors. Isaiah gave them thoughtful suggestions that would help alleviate these problem areas and develop more wholesome attitudes toward God and each other.

Next Week: Sabbath: Desire of Nations

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