I’ve been staring at Isaiah 58:6 on my arm for about four days now. Because it’s one of the verses I’m very familiar with, I haven’t allowed it to seep into my skin and soul like some of the other ones that have dressed my forearm over the past couple of years. Until today.
It was as if God were saying, “this is the fast that I have chosen”–the type of fast that I have committed to. If a fast is defined as giving up something for a specified number of days for a specific purpose, could God be referring to giving up nearness to His Son, the One He has been with since the Beginning, for thirty-three years, for the purpose of loosening the bonds of wickedness, undoing heavy burdens, setting the oppressed free, and cancelling all of the debts we owe Him?
Isaiah 58:1-6 tell us that fasting is not just focusing on neglecting ourselves because that often leads to navel-gazing and doesn’t work. True Fasting, rather, is something that takes our minds off of ourselves and focuses on God by seeking Him in caring for others. The only way He would have been able to fast in this way for this long is if His purpose was worth it, and ours must be, too.
Regardless of the purpose of our fast, or what we are going without, He shows us in the following verse what it should look like. Rather than trying to be noticed by our humilty, quarreling and exploiting others, He says this: What I’m interested in seeing YOU do is share your food with the hungry, provide the poor wanderer wth shelter, put clothes on the naked, and do not refuse to help your own relatives (Isaiah 58:7).
Fasting is tough. It’s even tougher if you think about how hungry you are. But God is telling us a better way. He is telling us that rather than just starving ourselves to look holy;
- Share our food, then we will be fed.
- Bring the poor into our homes, they will nourish us.
- Clothe the naked, as He does for us with His robe of righteousness.
- Be available to our own families, for He included us as His Children when He fasted for us.
Fasting is a way to facilitate the removal of anything standing between us and God. He is a wild God who is a wild lover, and will deprive Himself of anything to get His Children near to Him. He promises us glorious things when we do the same.
“Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.”Isaiah 58:8-9