Many participate in “fasting” by abstaining from food, or from certain foods, for a period of time; it has also become popular to abstain from certain things like sports, media, etc. yet results seem minimal at best. In Isaiah 58 Israel also went through forms of “fasting” and seeking God, yet were asking “Why have we fasted…and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls and You take no notice?” (verse3). Then God outlines that their relationship with Him was mere ritual while they were completely self-absorbed, consumed with pleasure, mistreating those under them, living in strife, debate, and quarrels, striking one another wrongfully, and trying to cover it all over with outward religious ritual! God asks “Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?” He then outlines the fast He Hs chosen. Make no mistake about it, abstinence form food or other things as self-discipline to meet with God is not wrong, but it must be accompanied by right actions and living standards. Jesus hit the proverbial “nail on the head” as He always did, when He said “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. So what is the fast God desires? It is “To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke”, Isaiah 53:6. (This can imply not oppressing the poor, but it can also imply spiritual ministry by lifting those burdened down and oppressed, and bringing those who are under the yoke of bondage and captivity to wickedness into deliverance in Christ!) Then verse 7 goes on to say it is to feed the hungry, to house the poor (homeless, destitute, etc.) and clothe the naked; in short to serve God by serving others from our heart in His name. When we couple these things with our fast God promises abundant blessings, illumination in our life, swift healing, righteousness to lead our way, divine protection, answered prayer, and satisfaction, verses 8-11.
By Rose Hill
(From Isaiah 58:6-11)
Do we desire to be totally blessed,
And in our soul have perfect rest?
Do we want health to flow like a spring,
And that our heart will joyfully sing?
Our right relationship with God will lead the way,
To peace and prosperity every day.
In our family there will be laughter,
And the glory of the Lord will follow after.
He will answer quickly for us all,
When on the Lord we will call.
Every oppression in our life will flee,
And God’s perfect way we shall see.
He will then lead us into the fast that He commands,
By helping the needy in many lands.
With the hungry our bread we will divide,
And also bring cheer to those that are by our side.
Then the Lord will be our continual guide,
And with the water of life we will be satisfied.
Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version copyright by Thomas Nelson Co. Used by permission.