Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Matthew 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

II Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.


MEMORY VERSE: For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. —I Corinthians 14:33


CENTRAL THOUGHT: God is worshipped, not only by us as individuals, but also in the assembly of saved, called out, and holy people. He desires right relationships between worshippers; forgiveness, unity, peace and harmony. If these things are not in order, God rejects the worship as hypocritical.




Isaiah 58:3 “In the day of your fast ye find pleasure and exact all your labours”: ‘In the day of your fasting you indulge your lusts, and draw near to all your idols.’ Syriac version. Or, some give the meaning, “Ye carry on your business and oppress all your labourers.”

6 “Let the oppressed go free”: “Jerome renders it, ‘Free those who are broken.’ The Septuagint [says], ‘Set at liberty those who are broken down.’” —Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. “How can any nation pretend to fast or worship God at all, or dare to profess that they believe in the existence of such a Being, while they carry on the slave trade, and traffic in the souls, blood, and bodies, of men! O ye most flagitious of knaves, and worst of hypocrites, cast off at once the mask of religion; and deepen not your endless perdition by professing the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, while ye continue in this traffic!”—Adam Clarke

Matthew 5:23 “Gift”: a present, specifically a sacrifice. “Ought”: a certain thing.




Some commentators feel the prophet Isaiah is speaking to the Jews who, in his time and again in the time of our Lord, were more zealous for externals than for inward holiness. Another thinks this refers to the Jews in captivity who were trying to gain God’s favor and a release; and that hence, sacrifices are not mentioned, but only fasting and Sabbath observance, which they could keep though far away from the temple in Jerusalem. However it may be, the people seemed to think they could bring God under obligation to save them, and lay claim to His favor.

In the New Testament, Jesus again dealt with hypocritical religion that concerned itself with externals, while ignoring the sins of pride, arrogance, and condemnation of others. In the Sermon on the Mount, He gave many examples of how God’s law was not just “letter only” but to be written upon the heart as a deeper guide for every attitude and action. He spoke much about being merciful and generous toward others and humble and meek in attitude. The verses in our lesson specifically deal with what’s going on in our relationship with others and how it affects our worship, service and offering we are giving God.

Paul instructed the church at Corinth much about public worship assemblies. Our memory verse seems to be the “bottom line” of all his instruction about worship, prophecy, speaking other languages and the operation and manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit: God is the author of peace, and not confusion, within His church and in our individual hearts. Follow charity and peace, he taught Timothy, with those saints who are calling upon the Lord—worshipping—with pure hearts. In other passages, Paul deals with the order of things—man being in subjection to Christ, his wife being in subjection to him and wearing the symbolic covering of that subjection, her long hair—as being very much connected to acceptable public or private worship (praying or prophesying). Peter wrote concerning a man’s behavior toward his wife, and how it had bearing upon the way his prayer (worship) to God was received.

In both the Old and New Testaments, the concept of human relationships affecting a person’s worship to God is very clearly taught.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck



  1. Good Appearances: Name the things the Jews were doing that made it seem like they wanted to truly worship God.
  2. At the Heart of Things: What was the real reason revealed by God for their fast? Are there modern-day examples of this?
  3. True Fasting: What are the characteristics of the fast the Lord has chosen?
  4. First Things First: What must precede an offering to the Lord?
  5. When You Pray: What must we also do if we are holding a grudge?




Pure religion clearly has two parts: worship to God and love for one’s neighbor. This is repeated many times in Moses’ law, called the “two greatest commandments” by Jesus Himself, and taught and practiced by the early church.

James pointed out the inconsistency of speaking evil to one another with the same tongue with which we worship and bless God. A man’s religion is vain if he cannot not bridle his tongue.

John emphasized loving others as a proof that one is living in God’s light and loving Him. We must not only say we love our brothers, but do the deeds of charity for their needs.

There was an instance in my younger years where I really failed of the grace of God and acted in impatience and haste, injuring someone. The loved ones of this person were very offended at me, and although I had tried to apologize, it was not received, and I faced the weekend—Sunday services—knowing that they had “ought” against me.

I knew what I had to do. Early Sunday morning I made another call. This time my heart was sincerely contrite, and in tears I humbled myself, acknowledged my failure and pled for forgiveness. I went to service somewhat hopeful, but still not secure in the knowledge that they had forgiven me. How could I worship with this awful cloud between us? But oh, thank the Lord, when we met at the chapel, we fell in each other’s arms, and tears were flowing from us both. What a clear heart I had then to sing, pray, and worship the Lord! That experience has influenced me all the rest of my life. The Lord personally applied the TRUTH of these Scriptures.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




The apostle John taught in I John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” Again in I John 2:9, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” One might testify to know God yet will not speak to a brother or family member. This is not true worship, and John said this was impossible. Our earthly relationships are a reflection of what is in the heart. If I cannot love my brother, whom I can see, how can I love God, whom I cannot see?

Sad to say, this condition is prevalent in our world today, where because of hurts and offences, many people have closed their hearts and minds. There are family members who haven’t spoken to certain family members for years. Jesus knows that hurts and offences are real and can be very severe. He also gives us space or time to get our bearings when they have occurred. Yet we still have a decision and a choice of what route we will take. If we choose to hold on to the hurt and make the offender suffer, closing our heart’s door, we will pay a high price: it will cost us our hope of heaven and our children may also be lost because of our root of bitterness. If we make the choice to forgive, God will give the enabling power to do something we can’t do on our own. He will also bring healing to our wounded spirit that will free us to continue becoming more and more like Him.

Our Savior hung on a cross nearly 2000 years ago, praying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3).

–Bro. Bob Wilson