Isaiah 58:3-9--“Why have we fasted, but You have not seen? We have denied ourselves, but You haven’t noticed!”
“Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast, and oppress all your workers. You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today, hoping to make your voice heard on high. Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? Isn’t the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignoreyour own flesh and blood? Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. Your righteousness will go before you, and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard. At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer; when you cry out, He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you get rid of the yoke among you, the finger-pointing and malicious speaking.
Some of the most heated arguments that ever occur happen while people are driving to church! Why is that? And why is it that a person can abstain from food for a whole day in order to get right with God, only to be obnoxious to be around afterwards? Certainly our enemy the devil, loves to do anything he can to disrupt us and keep us from worshiping God with a clean heart. But God, through His prophet Isaiah, in the passage above, reveals deeper insight into our human nature.
Many of the things we do religiously, we do to gain God’s attention and approval (often for man’s approval as well). We come to God and say, “Look God, what I did for You. Now how come you haven’t noticed?” Please note, worship is not defined by how long we denied ourselves the pleasure of eating on His behalf; by how many hours we spent in prayer; or by how large the check we slipped in the offering was. The Pharisees, a powerful religious group in Jesus’ day, were the best at fasting, praying and giving. Jesus was not impressed. Why? Because they were legalists more concerned about the law than about how they treated their fellow man. Fasting did not produce in them a greater love for God combined with a desire to put that love in motion. It just inflated their own sense of self-importance. They looked great on the outside but were riddled with hypocrisy on the inside.
The key to effective fasting is self-denial not so God will notice me, but that I would notice Him. When my eyes are on Christ, my ears are tuned to the Holy Spirit’s frequency and my hands are ready for the Master’s work, the grumbling in my stomach isn’t complaining, it’s the roaring of the engines to get it on there’s holy work to be done!
Fasting is much more than doing without food, that is the least part, it is fasting from everything that manifests self-indulgence.—Oswald Chambers inStudies in the Sermon on the Mount
©1998 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)