Isaiah 58 (ESV)
True and False Fasting
“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.
2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
3 ‘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 seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4 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.
5 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?
Luke 18:9-14 (NLT)
Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
God wants a fast that is accompanied by helping the needy neighbor. Social justice is measured in doing loving things for others.
6 “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?
7 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?
This upcoming passage shows several characteristics of a life right with God:
- It is an enlightened life: Your light shall dawn in the darkness.
- It is a guided life: The Lord will guide you continually.
- It is a satisfied life: And satisfy your soul in drought.
- It is a fragrant life: Like a watered garden.
- It is a freshly sustained life: Like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
- It is a productive, healing life: You shall build up the old waste places.
I want a life like this!!
8 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.
9 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 finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 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 noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 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.
Click HERE for a powerful song by Shirley Booth. “Worship” is based on this chapter, Isaiah 58.
It seems so far away, the thought of suffering, hunger and need.Lord, we’re so comfortable. They’re only pictures on the TV screen.Oh, we fast but we know we can eat the next dayand we travel to church in a car.There are carpets to comfort our knees as we prayand no danger in being what we are.Are my praises so loud that they drown out the cries?Do I fail to stoop down because my hands are raised too high?Are my eyes shut so tight when I pray I won’t see?Am I worshiping God for only me?You say that worshiping, Lord,is more like something I should do with my life.Not just at Sunday school.No Lord, you’re calling me to put these things right.There are hungry to feed.I have so much to spare.For the naked and downtrodden too.So much hurting around me.Please help me to care.Lord I want to start worshiping you.But are my praises so loud that they drown out the cries?Do I fail to stoop down because my hands are raised too high?Are my eyes shut so tight when I pray I won’t see?Am I worshiping God for only me?You make me shine like the sunand your glory will shelter me.When I cry out, you come.You restore me Lord.Setting me free.But are my praises so loud that they drown out the cries?Do I fail to stoop down because my hands are raised too high?Are my eyes shut so tight when I pray I won’t see?Am I worshiping God for only me?
Exodus 20:8-11 (NLT)
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”
13 “If you turn back your foot from 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 honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 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.”
The Sabbath commanded here and observed by Israel was a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17). We have a rest in Jesus that is ours to live in every day. Therefore, since the shadow of the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus, we are free to keep any day – or no day – as a Sabbath after the custom of ancient Israel. However, though we are free from the legal obligation of the Sabbath, we dare not ignore the importance of a day of rest – God has built us so that we need one.