True Fasting – Isaiah 58

 

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My brothers and sisters,

In light of my previous post, I would like to break down this scripture and add practical points to consider. May the Holy Spirit minister to you as we delve into His word. I would like to put a disclaimer on this: we are all guilty of doing this (Emphasis added).

ISAIAH 58

v1. Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.

God is telling Isaiah to be bold and say it how it is and as scripture clearly states, to direct it to God’s people.

Simply put, God was not addressing the non-believers. There is something that God saw amongst his people and was not happy with.

v2. Yet, they seek me daily and delight to know my way, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgement of their God; they ask me of righteous judgements; they delight to draw near to God.

Error: They made effort to seek God’s face and found delight in his way, which requires active effort and mental understanding, but had totally forgotten, or neglected the call of righteousness, which is a firm, standard of living. Seeking His face, and delighting in the way He does things is not enough. The words “as if” conveys some element of pretence. For example, imagine knowing that someone doesn’t care about you, but constantly check in to see how you are as if they did. You already know the truth, so the initial act is not coming from a sincere place.  In regards to God’s judgement, i imagine that they had lost sight of why God had established His judgements; which was to govern the way and manner which they ought to live and also for their own good.

When was the last time you made effort to seek God’s face, understood and enjoyed His ways, but failed to put it to practice or even lived the standard that He has called us to live?

v3. ‘ Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you will seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 

Let us remember when we have fasted and did not expect the result that we wanted. As shown by the speech marks, this is what the Lord heard from His people. They were fasting to have their own needs met, which is not the purpose of fasting. Fasting is the act of denying the flesh and letting it know that your main sustenance is the Father.

God had also seen that whilst the house of Jacob was “fasting” they were engaging with oppression, which in God’s eyes, did not make any sense at all.

v4. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.

Have you ever gotten into arguments and disagreements with others whilst you were fasting?

v5. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?

God is using rhetorical questions here to get the people to think: Did God call us to humble ourselves for a day, or a moment? The answer here is a resounding no!

v6-7. Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

When we are fasting, we are also called to participate in alleviating burdens and fulfil all the requirements to anyone who fall within the categories above. As I was meditating on this as I shared in my testimony, seeing the elderly lady on the streets who was hungry, cold and needed attention, needed to be fed, covered up and provided assistance. In this context, as shared from my testimony, me hiding from my own flesh to me means noticing that the elderly lady needed help and pretending that I didn’t see her.

Rich, poor, educated or not, we are all human beings made up of blood and flesh. To ignore those who are in genuine need of assistance because of preconceived notions as what they could do with given money, resources defeats the point of loving our neighbours.

GOD’S PROMISES

v8. Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

v9 – 10. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer: you shall cry and he will say, ‘Here I am’. If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the fingers, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noon-day.

v11 – 12. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in the scorched place and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose water do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach; the restorer of streets to dwell in.

You can see that there are biblical principles to follow. Once you have applied the true fasting principle in verse 6-7, you can definitely expect God to show up. God isn’t a liar!

v13-14. If you turn your back on the Sabbath from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honour it, not seeking your own way, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Final point: remember that God’s Sabbath is His day, not yours. Let this be at the back of our minds when we do go to church.

How to honour His day:

1 Seek His Will.

2. Seek to please Him.

3. Speak with purpose.

When you follow God wholeheartedly, you will want to please Him, you will take every opportunity to display His love and talk about His son, Jesus Christ. The testimony is a call to encourage those to step out in faith. It would have been a huge shame if I had read God’s word and failed to perform it.

Let us kick this habit and actually be ambassadors for the Kingdom. Let us love others the same way we love ourselves. Let us take our calling seriously and say “Here I am, send me!”

I know that you have been blessed. Step out in faith brothers and sisters!

Tunde T. Amao

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