Weíve been commanded to do it. Itís something thatís taught by many with practical application, yet we sometimes take things to the extreme on one-side or go to the other extreme on the other-side. We fail at times to find the balance, the truth, and the proper reasons for doing what we are doing and then we get frustrated for not seeing any results favorable on our part.
Whatís wrong? How come when I fast nothing happens? Why do I feel as though I wasting my time? I think that the Pastor/ Preacher forgot to tell me something? I did the 7-Steps just like the Bishop told me! I prayed when I was fasting! I gave my tithes this Sunday! I even help clean the church! Why is not working out.
The Wrong Motives for Fasting
God had to call the Prophet Isaiah and bring a fresh, revitalizing message to Israel about the proper practice for Fasting that they have taken and went into a negative extreme of religious application.
God said, Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and the house of Jacob their sins (Isaiah 58:1 NIV) When God calls Israel (Jacob) in the Old Testament itís not good. Jacob means trickster, con-artist, or slickster. The children of Israel had fallen off in their attempts to practice what God wanted them to do. So God begins to speak to Jacobs children (the Israelites) about their approach to seeking God.
God says, For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask Me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them (Isaiah 58:2).
The Bad Attitude
1. We fasted and you have not seen it v.3
2. We humbled ourselves you have not noticed v.3
The Evil Practices
1. The day of your fasting you do as you please v.3
2. And exploit all your workers v.3
3. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife v.4
4. And in striking each other with wicked fists v.4
5. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voices to be heard on high v.4
The Religious Wrong Practice
1. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? V.5
2. Is it only for bowing oneís head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? V.5
3. Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? V.5
In Isaiah 58:1-5, God was fair in labeling all the people in different categories; The arrogant crew, the people who say look at me Iím fasting crew, the tyrannical bosses crew, the street fighters and brawlers, and your religiously pious crew who execute fasting as another religious rule Iím obligated to do. The way they saw fasting and practiced it is what God had revealed to the Prophet Isaiah and told the Prophet to speak boldly by confronting their rebellion and sins of improper fasting.
This is a wake- up call to us to realize that fasting is not some ho-hum religious practice, thereís more to this simple rule or command that God gave us that we may be clueless about. So for the sake of these rebellious Israelites and todayís Christians who may be doing the same thing that the Israelites were 2700 years ago. God begins to outline the proper practice of fasting and the fasting that He will be pleased with.
The Divine Purpose of Fasting
1. Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: v.6
2. To loosen the chains of injustice v.6
3. And untie the cords of the yoke v.6
4. To set the oppressed free v.6
5. And break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6 NIV)
To give us some light of this verse these people had slaves and servants and they ran their services to the ground. On a day like the Sabbath when everyone was to cease from working for a day of rest (See Isa.58:13-14).
Secondly, this has a deeper spiritual application in reference to our own hang-ups and issues to be resolved by way of fasting to remove the yoke of bondage (the bad habits) we personally have that needs to be broken off our lives especially the attitudes we may have toward our servants and workers.
If youíre a boss, a manager, a coach, or any other position that you have rule over people fasting will change the way you should treat them. There are so many scriptures that guideís leaders to function in a godly mature manner in the Proverbs and in Paulís letters.
1. Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter v.7
2. When you see the naked, to clothe him v.7
3. And not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:7 NIV)
God desires us to turn our days of fasting into ACTS of Mercy in service to the homeless and hungry people in our streets in our own neighborhoods or near to us. Give them not only food but clothing. Secondly, to consider our own relatives who we may despise or fail to communicate with because they are in a rut or in a financially difficult situation and despite their misfortune if it were their own fault or a bad economy we are told not to turn away from them but to assist them.
We cannot be arrogant about whatever rule we are asked to obey in scripture. We cannot be a tyrant. We need to stop being religious about fasting and go about the day blessing others during our fast. When we do this is what God said, will happen;
1. Then your light will break forth like the dawn v.8
2. And your healing will quickly appear v.8
3. Then your righteousness will go before you v.8
4. And the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard (Isa.58:8 NIV)
5. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer v.9
6. You will cry for help, and He will say: Here I am v.9
7. If you do away with the yoke of oppression v.9
8. With the pointing finger and malicious talk (Isa.58:9)
9. And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry v.10
10. And satisfy the needs of the oppressed v.10
11. Then your light will rise in the darkness v.10
12. And you night will become like the noonday (Isa.58:10 NIV)
13. The Lord will guide you always v.11
14. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land v.11
15. And will strengthen your frame v.11
16. You will be like a well-watered garden v.11
17. Like a spring whose waters never fail (Isa.58:11 NIV)
18. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins v.12
19. And will raise up the age-old foundations v.12
20. You will be called Repairer of Broken walls v.12
21. Restorer of Streets with Dwellings (Isa.58:12 NIV)
Godís List of DOís and DONíTS
The clarity that God brought to the table could not be misunderstood. He pointed out what works and what doesnít work. So if we desire the following rewards of properly fasting then we must fast practically as Isaiah pointed it out.
1. We can be lights in this dark world.
2. We can be healed spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
3. We can obtain and maintain Godís righteousness in our lives.
4. We can experience a greater glorious anointing in our lives.
5. We can have our prayers answered constantly.
6. We can receive continual guidance of the Holy Spirit.
7. We can have satisfaction in our souls and emotional soundness.
8. We can experience spiritual refreshing moments when we are drying up.
9. We can produce work or projects that will endure for a long time.
10. We can be that person that recognized as a restorer.
The Prayer for Proper Fasting
Father, in Jesusí mighty name I call upon You to forgive me for my religious obnoxious behavior toward fasting. I realize that You have chosen a divine purpose of fasting that I have not been taught by anyone.
I realize that through the Prophet Isaiah You demand a higher standard of the sincere practicality of fasting. I am willing to submit and apply it in my life. Therefore, I ask that Your divine instruction will be implanted in my heart to carry out such a simple approach to fasting that will bring about all the rewards mention in Isaiah chapter 58. I thank You for the clear instruction. I praise You for allowing to come in contact with this teaching now I ask that it become a practical reality in my walk of faith. I thank you again Amen.