..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)



Friday, April 04, 2008

God's Chosen Fast: Isaiah 58

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen?
to loose the band of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, and to let the
oppressed go free, and that you break
every yoke?" ....Isaiah 58:6ff


So often when we think of fasting,
we think of abstaining from food.
God, through the prophet Isaiah,
tells us what the heart of a real
fast is. It has much more to do with
doing what is right then it does
with not eating.

If we were to heed these words concerning
God's chosen fast our souls would
prosper and both we, and the world
around us, would be changed.

Israel is complaining that God does
not act when she fasts. God tells her
that the heart with which Israel fasts
is all wrong. Even though the people
abstain from food,strife, fighting,
idolatry and hypocrisy continue. What is
evident is that fasting reveals the
true heart! When you fast you will
see what you are made of!

A real fast is warring against the
things that God wars against it.
Often we abstain from food so that
we might focus on what is important,
but fasting does not stop there.

God wants us to loose the bands of
wickedness, to undo heavy burdens that
are weighing people down, to let
the oppressed go free, and to break
every troublesome yoke that is
tied to evil.

What does this loosing mean? Is something
tight around your waist or your heart?
To loose or to lose we must starve those
things that hinder so that they shrivel and
lose their control over ourselves or others.
The excess fat of sin and oppression
weighs us down because we gather to
ourselves in excess. God's fast makes
sure that others have what they need and
no-one goes without while others eat
too much.

God's fast lets the oppressed go free.
Think about this: are you oppressing
anyone? It is a different way to look
at it because it starts with YOU! Do
your actions press down on others in
a negative way? If so, let them go
free! Do not hold others, or demand
of them, or entangle them. Look out for
what you can do to lighten people's loads.
So many can barely walk under the strain
of their lives. Help them come to the
Lord so that He might unburden them.
Be His hands and back and carry some
of their load through prayer and practical
help.

God's fast also tells us to share our
bread with the hungry (vs.7). This can be
both physical and spiritual. Who can
you feed, either physically or spiritually?
God's fast is full of hospitality, it
takes an interest in others. It causes
us to bring the poor into our homes,
and our hearts, and our lives.

God's fast covers the naked (vs. 7).
Most people have clothing, but what
does covering the naked mean? It is not
purely physical. How do we deal with
the weaknesses of others? Do we expose
the shortcoming of others? Do we make
their burdens heavier by talking about
them and not praying for them or
helping them. How we deal with others
is how God will deal with us. What we
measure out will be what is measured
to us. Now that is something to think about!

God's fast does not ignore need in
the family (vs. 7). It is easy to talk
about giving until the pressing day-to-day
needs of one's own family start to
wear on us. God says His fast does not
cause us to make oneself scarce when
need is present.

This kind of fasting can be harder
than not eating, no? And yet God
promises great blessing to us if
we fast His chosen fast. Light and
health is promised (vs.8).
The righteousness of God will go
before us and the glory of God
will be our rear guard! Amazing!

God said He will hear our prayers (vs 9).
and come quickly if we put away
pointing fingers at others and
walking in pride and vanity.
That sounds like a good enough
reason to me!

If we give ourselves to caring
for the hungry and afflicted,
darkness will flee away from us and
we can be assured that God will
guide us CONTINUALLY and take care
of our needs (vs 10, 11).

And unto many generations we
will be bringers of restoration
and healing (vs 12). Things that
have been broken will be healed!

And one more thing: if we keep
holy the Sabbath, if we set aside
that day for God and His purposes,
if we center on Him and speak of
Him, and delight in Him, He will
cause us to be lifted up and will
bless us as He did Jacob (vs 14).

These are the sure promises of God.

Read Isaiah 58 and consider carefully
God's chosen fast. It is a joy and
a delight and not a burden. Ask God
how to begin walking in this fast
as way of life. You will never be
the same!


2 comments:

Annette said...

God lead me to Isaiah 58 when dealing with a difficult personality. Instead of retaliating, I am praying how to do this fast. In my quest, I came across this article and it was helpful to further understand.

Anonymous said...

I am currently wrestling with some issues, and decided to go on a fast. i know that it was not coincidence when i came upon this via facebook. what i read just gave me greater insight