Friday, 30 October 2020
"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?” -Isaiah 58:6-7
In our text today God admonishes His people for their futile dependence on the performance of the outward forms of worship. The nation is shown to be diligent in carrying out various external rites of their religion thinking it would stop God’s judgments. The reasons why such religious services met with no signs of God’s acceptance, and the blessings which would follow the proper discharge of their duties are also stated in our reading.
Fasting has been a religious activity associated with all types of religion. Different kinds and variety of fasting can be seen in midst of several cultures. But the Bible reveals the nature of true fasting. True fasting having both physical and spiritual effects, should remove the toxic effect from our whole being. In turn, it changes our relation with God and man. Usually people consider fasting so as to get God to do what they want. Instead, for a true Christian, it is a means by which we come before God in true humility and to see and react to our surroundings the way God wants us to. It turns out to be a time of self- examination, purification and spiritual upliftment.
In the portion we read today, God points out to the vain fasting followed by Israel. They fasted as a religious ceremony. They never cared about whether it really pleased God or had any effect on them or others. That is why God is asking here: 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? (Isaiah 58:5) On the same day of fasting, they went about doing abominable things that God had forbidden them to do. They went about doing their usual business, instead of setting aside that day to be with God.
How is our fasting? Is it the same way as these Israelites fasted. Or is it really a day of self-examination, a time of humbling, a time to reach out to others who are in need—to do what is pleasing to God? While Jesus was teaching about Fasting in the Sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:16-17 He says: but when you fast, your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who sees in secret. And your Father who is in secret will reward you.
As we fast and pray these days, let us have the real assurance from heaven that He has heard us. As we read in Isaiah 58: 8-12, God will reward us with His guidance and blessings that will be poured into our lives. Let us thus strive to get to the place where we meet with Him and do what pleases Him. Let it not end up as a vain spiritual exercise. God bless all of us with a time of renewal of our spiritual strength and nearness to God as we go through our fasting these days.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, as I humbly seek your face during this time of fasting and praying please help me to examine myself and see what you require of me and help me to be a pleasing aroma in your presence. In Jesus name, amen.