The Isaiah 58 Challenge | The Day of Mercy


Isaiah 58 ChallengeThe Isaiah 58 Challenge –The Day of Mercy

Written by: Pastor Ivor Myers

What you are about to read will change everything for you and your church! What is the Isaiah 58 Challenge? Isaiah 58 describes the way God intended the Sabbath to be kept. Imagine if you could get your entire community buzzing about the Sabbath day, talking about it and telling others about it. Imagine the light of truth that God’s people possess shining forth into all the world, imagine praying for the latter rain and God answering! Imagine people flocking to our doors as the Sabbath is being preached more fully with power!

In the last few weeks I have been studying Isaiah chapter 58 and have found something quite amazing. But I am not alone in this. I have had several people in the last two weeks either email me or approach me totally unaware that I was studying this, only to share the same heavy burden of what they have discovered in Isaiah 58 in connection with the third angel’s message. I will say it straight. No, I’ll let the Bible say it.

Sabbath Breaking

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 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. 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. Isaiah 58:1-3

The “sin” is this chapter is concerning the Sabbath. The “sin” was that God’s people, the Jews were not actually keeping the Sabbath the way He had designed it to be kept.

Verse 6-7 states:

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? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Then follows the most amazing promises laid out in the rest of the chapter.

When Jesus came to this world, He opened up his mission by reading from the scroll of Isaiah, chapter 61:1-2…

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…”

Verses 3-4 continue on with these crucial words…

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation’s of many generations.”

Of course, verse 4 is almost identical to the closing verses of Isaiah 58: (v.13-14)

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words…”

Jesus came in part to repair the breach of the Sabbath. The Jews did not represent this day correctly, and when Jesus performed an act of mercy on that day, in front of the Pharisees, it angered them like nothing else.

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.

Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. NKJV

Here is the first time recorded in Scripture that the Pharisees began their plot to kill Jesus.

“Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.” Matthew 12:14.

Mark this carefully, Jesus was put to death because of repairing the breach of the Sabbath. By demonstrating acts of mercy on this Day of Mercy, Christ was revealing the character of His Father, reflected in the seal of His Father, the Sabbath. And Satan hated it.

The Sabbath, A Day of Mercy

The Sabbath was the only commandment designed to teach MERCY. In this command, God’s people were to show mercy by allowing those under their care to rest, even down to the animals! Since this command teaches us about the merciful character of God, and to teaches us to be merciful like Him, Satan hates it, because by keeping it correctly, we begin to reflect the character of God.

Note this…

The Sabbath was Christ’s busiest day for healing the sick. On this day He could best reach those who were laboring during the week. Wherever He went, He was a medical missionary, an unerring physician, speaking words of comfort and love! From Him flowed a stream of healing power, and the sick were made whole. He healed men and women with unhesitating willingness and with hearty joyfulness; for He was glad to be able to restore suffering ones to health.–Letter 168, 1902, p. 1. (To “Dear Sister Ross,” October 23, 1902.) {5MR 84.2}

The Sabbath was God’s sign between Him and His people, and evidence of His kindness, MERCY, and love, a token by which His people are distinguished from all false religionists of the world. And God has pledged Himself that He will bless them in their obedience, showing Himself that He is their God, and has taken them into covenant relation with Himself, and that He will fulfill His promise to all that are obedient. {5MR 84.3}

But Isaiah 58 has a special end time application to the people of God. Yes, we, like the Jews in Christ day, have not been keeping the Sabbath, at least the way God has designed it to be kept. Notice these statements…

The Pattern in Isaiah 58. The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah contains present truth for the people of God. Here we see how medical missionary work and the gospel ministry are to be bound together as the message is given to the world. Upon those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord is laid the responsibility of doing a work of mercy and benevolence. Medical missionary work is to be bound up with the message, and sealed with the seal of God.–Manuscript 22, 1901. {Ev 516.4}

God desires His people to bind medical missionary work up with the work of the third angel’s message. This is the work that will restore the moral image of God in man. . . .[SEE OBSERVANCE OF SABBATH, SECTION 11.] {MM 160.2}

Genuine medical missionary work is bound up inseparably with the keeping of God’s commandments, of which the Sabbath is especially mentioned, since it is the great memorial of God’s creative work. Its observance is bound up with the work of restoring the moral image of God in man. This is the ministry which God’s people are to carry forward at this time. This ministry, rightly performed, will bring rich blessings to the church. –6T 266. {MM 214.2}

How does the Sabbath, the Seal of God, restore the moral image of God in man? When we do the work that Jesus did upon the Sabbath, when we perform the acts of mercy laid out for us in Isaiah 58, we begin to reflect his very character of mercy!

Listen…

The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labor on the rest day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labor of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest, to worship, and to holy deeds. The work of Christ in healing the sick was in perfect accord with the law. It honored the Sabbath. {ML 231.4}

Are we honoring the Sabbath???

Not Keeping the Sabbath

“This is the special work now before us. All our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work. Sacred obligations are resting upon us. Our duty is plainly stated. The Lord has spoken to us by His prophet. The thoughts of the Lord and His ways are not what blind, selfish mortals believe they are or wish them to be. The Lord looks on the heart. If selfishness dwells there, He knows it. We may seek to conceal our true character from our brethren and sisters, but God knows. Nothing can be hid from Him. {2T 34.1}

The fast which God can accept is described. It is to deal thy bread to the hungry and to bring the poor which are cast out to thy house. Wait not for them to come to you. The labor rests not on them to hunt you up and entreat of you a home for themselves. You are to search for them and bring them to your house. You are to draw out your soul after them. You are with one hand to reach up and by faith take hold of the mighty arm which brings salvation, while with the other hand of love you reach the oppressed and relieve them. It is impossible for you to fasten upon the arm of God with one hand while the other is employed in ministering to your own pleasure. {2T 34.2}

If you engage in this work of MERCY and love, will the work prove too hard for you? Will you fail and be crushed under the burden, and your family be deprived of your assistance and influence? Oh, no; God has carefully removed all doubts upon this question, by a pledge to you on condition of your obedience. This promise covers all that the most exacting, the most hesitating, could crave. “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” Only believe that He is faithful that hath promised. God can renew the physical strength. And more, He says He will do it. And the promise does not end here. “Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.” God will build a fortification around thee. The promise does not stop even here. “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am.” If ye put down oppression and remove the speaking of vanity, if ye draw out your soul to the hungry, “then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought [famine], and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” {2T 35.1}

Read Isaiah 58, ye who claim to be children of the light. Especially do you read it again and again who have felt so reluctant to inconvenience yourselves by favoring the needy. You whose hearts and houses are too narrow to make a home for the homeless, read it; you who can see orphans and widows oppressed by the iron hand of poverty and bowed down by hardhearted worldlings, read it. Are you afraid that an influence will be introduced into your family that will cost you more labor, read it. Your fears may be groundless, and a blessing may come, known and realized by you every day. But if otherwise, if extra labor is called for, you can draw upon One who has promised: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring

forth speedily.” The reason why God’s people are not more spiritually minded and have not more faith, I have been shown, is because they are narrowed up with selfishness. The prophet is addressing Sabbathkeepers, not sinners, not unbelievers, but those who make great pretensions to godliness. It is not the abundance of your meetings that God accepts. It is not the numerous prayers, but the rightdoing, doing the right thing and at the right time. It is to be less self-caring and more benevolent. Our souls must expand. Then God will make them like a watered garden, whose waters fail not.” {2T 35.2}

The Isaiah 58 Challenge

So here is the Challenge. What if Seventh Day Adventists became true Sabbath Keepers? (Isaiah 58 style). What if every Sabbath we sought to demonstrate a kind act of mercy to the people in our community, something that did not violate the Sabbath? And what if we had a special card that informed them that today is God’s Sabbath Day, a Day of Mercy designed to reveal God’s love to them. With every kind act of mercy, a card is given connecting that act with the Sabbath day? What an effect it would have upon the people!

Imagine for example, that you know a family in your neighborhood where the children are in need of clothing. Your church decides to buy clothing for the children, and present it to the family ON the Sabbath with the Mercy Day card. You are now preaching the gospel in CONNECTION with the ACTS of Christ. That person is not likely to forget the Sabbath! In fact, they may show up at your church because of that SABBATH blessing!

Here are just a sample of some things that could be done in connection with Sabbath Day of Mercy Card:

  • Mercy bags filled with small items like snacks, toothpaste, etc. for the homeless, given to them on Sabbath.
  • A Prayer Hour in your church on Sabbath afternoon open to anyone in the community who is sick and would like special prayer for healing.
  • Door to Door prayer for healing on Sabbath.
  • Medical missionary work on the Sabbath.
  • Giving a gift for someone in need on the Sabbath (clothing, sneakers, etc.)
  • Free Food and Water in the park. A prayer booth in the park.

Whatever the act of mercy is, a Day of Mercy card is given to point to the Sabbath which points to the Creator and his character of mercy and kindness!

God says that if we do these acts of mercy,

“THEN shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt

cry, and he shall say, Here I am….And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. ” Isaiah 58:8-12.

Christ, the outshining of the Father’s glory, came to the world as its light. He came to represent God to men, and of Him it is written that He was anointed “with the Holy Ghost and with power,” and “went about doing good.” Acts 10:38. In the synagogue at Nazareth He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19. This was the work He commissioned His disciples to do. “Ye are the light of the world,” He said. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, 16. {COL 416.2}

This is the work which the prophet Isaiah describes when he says,”Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.” Isaiah 58:7, 8.{COL 417.1}

Thus in the night of spiritual darkness God’s glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn. {COL 417.2}

All around us are heard the wails of a world’s sorrow. On every hand are the needy and distressed. It is ours to aid in relieving and softening life’s hardships and misery. {COL 417.3}

Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed. {COL 417.4}

I encouraged my church this past week to become a Sabbath Keeping Church!!! It was a wonderful experience. We have decided to start keeping the Sabbath! I encourage you to study Isaiah 58 like never before, study what the Spirit of Prophecy has to say on it, and encourage your church to take the Isaiah 58 Challenge! Watch and see if God will not honor His promises if we do this!

I encourage you to pass this note on to every Seventh-day Adventist, to your pastor, etc. Imagine the Isaiah 58 Challenge going nationwide, worldwide? Think of it. The whole world talking about the blessing of the Sabbath as a result of our examples of mercy! Just as Christ was persecuted for true Sabbath keeping, so when God’s people truly begin to keep the Sabbath, Satan will seek to persecute. But God be praised, for in that time, He will empower us as he did Jesus to withstand come what may!! We will truly be sealed with the seal of God, and reflecting His character of love, we will be settled into the truth with a power that cannot be shaken! God bless you as you and your church take this challenge into your community!

  • Here is the link to the Mercy Card. You can download, edit and print this card locally for your churches use.
  • Or you can purchase the Mercy cards here: sdxmedia@gmail.com, or call 661-427-8910.
  • Join and Share your blessings and ideas on the Isaiah 58 Challenge FB page.
  • DayofMercy.com is the new website that your contacts will be directed to when they receive the card. It will have a director of an SDA church in the their area.
  • Isaiah58challenge.com will soon be up. This site is specifically for Adventist churches to register to be a part of the Challenge.

Additional Statements on Isaiah 58 from the Spirit of Prophecy

We are living in the last days of this earth’s history, and it is time we understood what we must do to be saved. The Lord will work intelligently for all who will work intelligently for Him. My brethren and sisters, there is something more for you to do than to sit in your churches Sabbath after Sabbath and to listen to the preaching of the Word. You have a work to do for friends and neighbors. God requires of you that you visit these families and seek to create an interest in the truth for this time. You are not laboring together with God if you neglect the work of helping others to take hold upon eternal realities. {10MR 320.1}

Our ministers are not to be encouraged to hover about the churches to repeat to the believers week after week the same truths. We have a truth that is saving and precious. The Word of God must be planted in many hearts, the bread of life must be dealt out to many hungering souls. If we will study carefully the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, with these words I have read to you from the 54th and 55th chapters, you will see that there is a precious and an extended work to be done by the people of God. It is a blessed work to lift up Christ before the world. {10MR 320.2}

When the mind of Christ becomes our mind, and His works our works, we shall be able to keep the fast described by the prophet Isaiah: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens?” Find out what the poor and suffering are in need of, and then, in love and tenderness, help them to courage and hope and confidence by sharing with them the good things that God has given you. Thus you will be doing the very work that God means you to do. “Let the oppressed go free.” Do not rest until you break every yoke. It is not possible for you to neglect this and yet obey God. {PUR, July 21, 1904 par. 1}

Those who believe in Christ as a personal Saviour will grow in healthful experience, because they fulfill the conditions laid down in Isaiah 58. RH, January 22, 1895

The Lord says, “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? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” {RH, June 25, 1901 par. 8}

Here are laid down the duties devolving upon those who claim to be Christ’s followers. Those who are truly connected with the Saviour will reveal this connection by doing the works of mercy here outlined. {RH, June 25, 1901 par. 9}

And to those who obey this command is given the promise, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am.

Then why not try this kind of service? The Lord calls his yoke easy, and his burden light. Yet the yoke will not give us a life of ease and freedom and selfish indulgence. The life of Christ was one of self-sacrifice and self-denial at every step; and with consistent, Christlike tenderness and love, his true follower will walk in the footsteps of the Master; and as he advances in this life, he will become more and more inspired with the Spirit and life of Christ.

Mrs. E. G. White. {ST, July 22, 1897 par. 16}

The work specified in these words is the work God requires his people to do. It is a work of God’s own appointment. With the work of advocating the commandments of God, and repairing the breach that has been made in the law of God, we are to mingle compassion for suffering humanity. We are to show supreme love to God; we are to exalt his memorial, which has been trodden down by unholy feet; and with this, we are to manifest mercy, benevolence, and the tenderest pity for the fallen race. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” As a people we must take hold of this work. Love revealed for suffering humanity gives significance and power to the truth. {SpTA10 3.2}

Now we can see what the Lord delights in their doing. {5MR 34.2}

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning.” Well this is what we wanted to know,Where we can find the light? It will break forth as the morning! What is it that will give us the light? By getting out of ourselves and seeing what good we can do for others, that are around us. We may feel that it is too great a task upon us, but in doing good to others it reacts back upon us, and if we comfort others with the comfort wherewith we are comforted the blessings will come back to us. And how? “Ye are labourers together with God.” You see we are drawing in the same line with Jehovah, and all of the heavenly intelligences are interested in the work going on here in this earth, and if there had not been that interest none of us could be saved. . . . “And they that shall be of thee,” now mark these words, “shall build the old waste places”: What next? They shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and they shall be called, What? “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” What is that? It is the everlasting law of Jehovah, and it was the transgression of that [law] that brought the fall of man. {5MR 34.3}

Here it says, “And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry.” What is this hungering? If there is not a hungering, a starving for the Word of God, tell me?–Ms 5, 1891, pp. 1, 7. (Sabbath sermon, January 10, 1891.) {5MR 35.1}

I know that the work you are engaged in is the very work that should be done in connection with the third angel’s message, as the hand is connected with the body. I have no fears of workers who are engaged in the work represented in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah.–Letter 24, 1898, pp. 1, 2. (To “Dear Brother Merrill,” March 25, 1898.)

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