What Does it Say?
Isaiah 58:1–8 “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. 2 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. 3 ‘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,[a] and oppress all your workers. 4 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. 5 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? 6 “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[b] go free, and to break every yoke? 7 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? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily;”
What Does it Mean?
In this passage, the Lord is addressing His people and the way they are fasting. The call to fast has not been met with a turning of the heart. The people of God are acting as if they love God and His ways, yet they are not a people of righteousness. They ask God “Why have we fasted?” and they say “You aren’t paying attention to our fast,” but God is addressing the fact that they are fasting, yet representing Him poorly by having strained relationships, wickedness, exploiting others for their labor and more. God is clear on the fast that He wants beginning in verse 6, “To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, that we would break every yoke, to share our bread with the hungry…” God wants a fast that not only honors Him, but results in us representing Him here on the earth!
What Does it Mean to Us?
We must respond to the call to fast and ask God to purify the motives of our hearts, so that our priorities, values, and schedules will reflect His heart. As I meditated on this passage, I really felt a strong highlight on verse eight, which says, “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” As we look for breakthrough in our own lives, I sensed the call of God to rise up and align our hearts with His, that our eyes would be open to the “fast that He has chosen.” You may feel that you can only begin to help others once you have your breakthrough, but I propose to you that it may be the opposite. As you cry out for your heart to love what God loves, and as you step out and bring breakthrough for others, not only will your light break forth like the morning, but your healing will come speedily! There is an acceleration to your breakthrough when God is with you, nothing can stop it; just like the morning that comes each day, nothing can stand in front of the breakthrough you need when God responds. It reminds me of Matthew 6:33 which says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” We don’t “seek first” just to get things from God, but when our hearts fully align with the kingdom of God, breakthrough comes in our lives!
As a father of four sons, my heart jumps at the opportunity to bless them most when they have aligned their values with mine. When my boys treat each other with kindness, go out of their way to love, pray for others, and the request for ice cream comes, I am much more inclined to be excited to bless them than I would if they are intentionally going against my values.
Come before the Lord today and let Him know that you aren’t doing this fast as a way to “rub the lamp” so that the genie comes out. God loves you and needs no coaxing to be a good Father who provides. Come to God in humility, asking Him to help your heart love others more than yourself, to love what He loves, and hate what He hates. Thank Him for the breakthrough that is coming for you, but stay focused on what His Spirit leads you to do for others.