Isaiah 58 Fruit of the Fast
8 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
A True Fast – God is speaking to Isaiah in contrast to his contemporaries. This is not the time to hold back. Shout it aloud is interesting it is like call out and don’t spare your throat. I listen to a lot of standards and big band music. I love Mel Torme. What cracks me up every time is when the trumpet section kicks in. I always just about jump out of my socks. Even when I know they’re coming they take me by surprise. Raise your voice like a trumpet is something that can’t be missed. God tells us what a true fast does. It seeks God out. It is focused on knowing God’s ways. It wants to know what and how to do what is right according to the Lord. The religion taking place was a practice with the expectation of reward. It was an idolatry of form where they attempt to turn Yahweh into just another oracle.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
A False Fast – Why did we fast if we didn’t get anything out of it? They claim that they are pious and observant, but they didn’t care about hearing from God. They just wanted His comfort or protection or provision.
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
It seems like they are making an attempt to follow Leviticus 16:29-31 but they are only doing it as a formula and they end up turning on one another over it.
What God wants from a fast -
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
The result of a fast, from God’s perspective, is Jubilee. Slaves are set free. The hungry are fed. The poor are cared for and no one is turned away. Jubilee is something that happened very rarely in Israel’s history. Jesus proclaimed himself to be the embodiment of Jubilee in Luke 4 and they tried to throw Him off a cliff. We have a hard time with fasting because we think of it as giving something up or depriving ourselves of something when what God wants from a fast is for us to know Him and become more like Him.
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Return to worship – shekinah – When we worship with love for God with all our heart, soul, and strength God’s light shines through us. Healing and righteousness going before and behind us is the manifestation of shekinah glory that appears where God is.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
It isn’t just about going through the motions. When we call and the Lord answers it is because we want Him and love Him and are humble about it. Oppression, derision, and malicious talk have no place in the kingdom. We all fall short, but God wants our hearts to be aligned with His heart and He sees the oppressed in all of oppression’s forms. When we spend ourselves, literally puq nephesh – extend your soul, on behalf of others God’s light shines through us. Humble people can take directions. We all have GPS now, but remember the jokes about how men would never stop for directions. With the Lord guiding us this is what happens:
11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Why is the Sabbath such a big deal?
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Keeping the Sabbath isn’t something we do for us. Keeping the Sabbath is something we do for God. It tells the Lord that we want to please Him. The day of rest and worship is a delight because it honors God. It shows the Lord that we can actually listen to Him and obey Him because He is right and we trust Him. When we listen to Him and trust Him because He has spoken the covenant “inheritance” is inevitable because it is the fruit of the relationship.