True and False Fasting
58 “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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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?
“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?
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
“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;
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.”
Isaiah 58 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Apoptosis – this medical term (the definition found on Medicine.Net) is a form of cell death in which a programmed sequence of events leads to the elimination of cells without releasing harmful substances into the surrounding area. It plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining the health of the body by eliminating old cells, unnecessary cells, and unhealthy cells.
Our body replaces one million cells per second.
But too little or too much apoptosis can play a role in many diseases. When it doesn’t work correctly, cells that should be eliminated may persist and become immortal. For example, in cancer and leukemia when apoptosis works overly well it kills too many cells and inflicts grave tissue damage. It kills cells.
Note two things here – this term is about a cell death through a sequence of events. Overworking cells can cause their death.
This is a hidden death from the inside out.
The people of Israel were dying spiritually from the inside out. They had become pious in their thinking and ways, even down to their religious activities. Their pride was separating them from God. In truly one of the most amazing passages written on fasting, God speaks toward this and what true fasting is. He speaks what follows in our behavior as a result of genuine seeking God through fasting.
True worship is more than just singing songs. It’s more than just checking the boxes of religious activity. True worship is more than just ritual fasting.
True worship is our seeking God, allowing Him to point out areas where He wants us to change and seeking the Holy Spirit’s help to do so. But more on point, true worship is lived out loud with our lives. Even though we may act like we are people who want to come near to God, true worship is reflected through our actions which are not ritual but genuine.
There is no doubt we are not saved by good deeds or acts of kindness. We are saved through faith in Christ Jesus as Lord. But that saving faith must reflect itself in reaching out to others. Building others up and walking alongside them. The best fasting helps us land in that place of serving others. True fasting isn’t about what we eat, it’s about pleasing God – and serving the community through the challenges we face and He brings before us.
The people of Israel were dying from the inside out. Genuine fasting would halt the death and bring life. The same is true for us. Intimate seeking our God through times of prayer and fasting will bring a life within we’ve never had but also awaken the needs of others to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Isaiah 58 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Many of us can fall into the trap of gaining more Bible knowledge, praying to the Lord, worshiping through song and fasting without actually doing anything. What I mean by this is, there is a difference between religious people and responsive people. The people in Isaiah’s time apparently fasted and prayed for their own benefit. They expected God to answer their prayers but they didn’t want to serve Him with their whole hearts.
Fasting involves incredible sacrifice. However, it should not stop there. When we fast and pray, it should produce action. We can talk all about the great time we had. We can sit around and discuss deep theological topics. We can even become emotional and cry, pouring out our deepest and darkest secrets to each other. The fact remains; if that doesn’t lead to genuine action toward the will of God, it’s a waste of time.
Isaiah focuses specifically on what was lacking with the people of his time.
“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.Isaiah 58:6-7 GNB
What good was the prayer and fasting if it didn’t lead to the heart of God? This is the difference between someone who is focused on self and someone who is focused on Jesus. God sent His Son to show us His heart, and Jesus had compassion on those in need. Of course, there is much more to His Message than social justice, however, it has always been and will always be an important component to the Gospel. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We must respond with action.