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Fasting has always been a subject that intrigued me. There’s something about denying self that puts me into a God-conscious frame of mind and reminds me just how small I am. Fasting – denying self – is a great physical exercise that reminds me of something spiritual. It doesn’t have to be fasting from food, but it can involve fasting from anything that has a tendency to consume you – anything that you get passionate about. Anything that makes you excited is worth fasting from because it has the potential to become an idol to you.
I was recently reading in Isaiah 58, and the verses in this chapter gave me a new perception of fasting. While fasting means abstaining from something you enjoy, I think these verses bring out the point that fasting also accomplishes a greater good. It’s not just “afflict[ing] [the] soul” (verse 5). It involves doing without for yourself so that you can do something for someone else, and ultimately for God. Kind of reminds me of this song, called “True Evangelical Faith”.
I love verse 13 as well, as it refers to the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of rest, created by God for His people. But we are not to be selfish with it. Yes, Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27), but ultimately, like any other day, it is for the glory of God.
Since God’s Word does the best job of explaining all this, I encourage you to read the chapter below and meditate on it and how it should affect your life this week:
Isaiah 58 (KJV)
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.