ISAIAH 58 VERSES 6-12
6 “Is not this the fast that I [God] 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? 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.
At its simplest, fasting is abstaining from eating and usually drinking for a certain period of time. Usually, a fast will last at least one entire day. Christians in the New Testament are not commanded to fast, yet many of the apostles and disciples chose to fast regularly. Jesus also fasted. When a Christian fasts it is done for spiritual benefits, but there may also be physical benefits as well. Spiritually speaking, fasting is a way of dedicating a period of time to the Lord by denying your body and spending that time communing with God.
Notice that the verses given above do not describe the type of fasting we might usually think of. It is important to read the entire chapter of Isaiah to fully understand what God is saying, but the bottom line is that God is telling the Israelites that the way they had been fasting was unacceptable. In prior verses, we see that the Israelites were fasting just to fulfill a requirement of the law and often to be seen fasting and have people think of them as godly even though they were not.
Instead, God is telling us that fasting is not a substitute for good conduct, for loving others, for helping the poor and for executing righteous judgment. The type of fast God desires is the fasting that comes from the Holy Spirit, not from selfishness and self-centeredness. God desires that his people not only worship and love him, but that we also love and care for others. Notice also that the Lord attaches a promise to the type of fast that he desires, not a small promise, but an immense and awesome promise.
WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
Fasting is a personal experience that we should do to grow closer to God. It’s when we feel distant from God, that we should consider undertaking a fast so that we can use that time to grow closer. When we choose to fast we should not make a big deal of it by drawing attention to ourselves.
We must also choose to love our neighbors, to love God’s children and to uphold God’s judgments and his precepts. When we do this we should not be ashamed to ask God to remember the promise he attached. God is faithful to all of his promises.
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