NASB - 7 Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
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Considering Isaiah was an Isrealite writing to Israelites I believe the immediate application was to the family of Israel. Isaiah 58 deals primarily with right and wrong fasting, alternating between the two. The opening verses are words of rebuke and admonition which transition into exhortation. V. 7 lists the hungry, poor and naked which were certainly among the Israelite community and family. I believe "thine own flesh" could be understood to indicate "thine own flesh" (and blood). This would include not only the immediate family but also their brothers and sisters in the flesh, the Israelites.
This verse takes us back to Nehemiah 5:5. This period was a TIME of trial. The people were led by Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Also he was a spiritual leader for the Israelites. In chapter 5, Nehemiah is dealing with the problem of oppression. The people were tired. They were complaining. There was not enough food, not enough money for food or to pay taxes. They were also grumbling about each other. They were even selling their children into slavery! Leviticus 25:35-40, forbid a Jewish person to be a slave. They could be an employee. The people were to take care for their brethren who were not as fortunate as themselves. This verse in Isaiah, is referring to the brethren. Your brothers and sisters. We are to help and love one another. You know,Jesus said Love God and Love each other and you have fulfilled the law!
What does Isaiah 58:7 mean by "not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" That we be charitable to those that stand in need of charity, 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? Isaiah 58:7 The particulars in the former verse may be taken as acts of charity, that we not only release those whom we have unjustly oppressed - 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? Isaiah 58:6 that is justice, but that we contribute to the rescue and ransom of those that are oppressed by others, to the release of captives and the payment of the debts of the poor; but those in this verse are plainly acts of charity. This then is the fast that God has chosen. First, To provide food for those that want it. This is put first, as the most necessary, and which the poor can but a little while live without. It is to break thy bread to the hungry. Observe, “It must be thy bread, that which is honestly got (not that which thou hast robbed others of), the bread which thou thyself hast occasion for, the bread of thy allowance.” We must deny ourselves, that we may have to give to him that needeth. “Thy bread which thou hast spared from thyself and thy family, on the fast-day, if that, or the value of it, be not given to the poor, it is the miser's fast, which he makes a hand of; it is fasting for the world, not for God. This is the true fast, to break thy bread to the hungry, not only to give them that which is already broken meat, but to break bread on purpose for them, to give them loaves and not to put them off with scraps.” Secondly, To provide lodging for those that want it: It is to take care of the poor that are cast out, that are forced from their dwelling, turned out of house and harbour, are cast out as rebels (so some critics render it), that are attainted, and whom therefore it is highly penal to protect. “If they suffer unjustly, make no difficulty of sheltering them; do not only find out quarters for them and pay for their lodging elsewhere, but, which is a greater act of kindness, bring them to thy own house, make them thy own guests. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for though thou mayest not, as some have done, thereby entertain angels, thou mayest entertain Christ himself, who will recompense it in the resurrection of the just. I was a stranger and you took me in.” Thirdly, To provide clothing for those that want it: “When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, both to shelter him from the injuries of the weather and to enable him to appear decently among his neighbours; give him clothes to come to church in, and in these and other instances hide not thyself from thy own flesh.” Some understand it more strictly of a man's own kindred and relations: “If those of thy own house and family fall into decay, thou art worse than an infidel if thou dost not provide for them.” But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:8 Others understand it more generally; all that partake of the human nature are to be looked upon as our own flesh, for have we not all one Father? And for this reason we must not hide ourselves from them, not contrive to be out of the way when a poor petitioner enquires for us, not look another way when a moving object of charity and compassion presents itself; let us remember that they are flesh of our flesh and therefore we ought to sympathize with them, and in doing good to them we really do good to our own flesh and spirit too in the issue; for thus we lay up for ourselves a good foundation, a good bond, for the time to come.
I believe Jesus answered this very question in Luke 10:29, with a parable. We know it as the parable of the good samaritan. The Priest, and Levite in the story both "hid themselves" from the needy man. Essentially Jesus said whoever God puts in your path, that has a need, he is your neighbor, or brother, or "your own flesh". Your fellow mankind. Luke 10:27.. Giving from your substance, is therefore akin to going without, or fasting, and one shouldn't go without the other.
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