“Glory To The Lamb Jesus”/Isaiah 58, “True Fasting,” cont’d

Christian Living

“Be Blessed,” Yolanda Adams

“True Fasting, cont’d, Isaiah 58:3) 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 last fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.  Malachi 3:14.  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 (reed, plant), and to spread sackcloth (coarse rough fabric) 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 (And Blood)?  Nehemiah 5:5.

Nelson’s Compact Bible Commentary – v3, 4, Formerly, the nation fasted in times of national calamity (Jeremiah 36:9; Joel 1:14); later, fasting became a part of the liturgical calendar.  This Sermon may have been delivered on The Day of Atonement when the people of Israel afflicted their souls (v. 10; Leviticus 16:29).  Paradoxically, Israel finds pleasure in fasting, but not in keeping The Sabbath (vv. 13, 14).  The accusations, you … exploit all your laborers and you fast for strife and debate, expose the hypocrisy of the people’s Worship.  Instead of ceasing their normal pursuits and setting the day aside to fast and pray, they strike with the fist the laborer who does not work.  v5, The people’s fast was not an Acceptable Day To THE LORD because it focused on self-righteousness and not on Justice for others.  Bow down and spread out refers to the mourning ceremonies which accompanied fasting (Joel 1:13, 14).  Like a bulrush is meant signify humility (42:3).  v6, To loose, to undo, to let … go free, and break every yoke are synonyms (means the same) of Righteousness (Ezekiel 18:16-18), Yoke is a metaphor (comparison) for social oppression.  v7, The poor who are cast out refers to those whose lands and houses were expropriated (seized) in payment of debts.

Quest Study Bible – v3, “What does fasting do?”   The Law called for fasting on The Day of Atonement as a sign of humility and sincere Repentance.  Fasting meant focusing their hearts on GOD and expressing their deep sorrow for their sins.  Over time, however, some Hebrews began to see fasting as a ritual that could Earn GOD’s Favor:  “If we fast,” they thought, “GOD WILL BLESS US.”  Isaiah knew rituals were pointless unless they were Motivated By Sincere Faith and Obedience To GOD’S Moral Law.  The “Fasting” GOD Wants Most Is Not Ritual, But Action:  Feed The Hungry, Clothe The Naked and so on (vv. 6-7).  v3, “How did the Israelites exploit people?”   In many ways, perhaps.  They may have overworked their servants, been inhospitable to strangers, ignored the needs of the poor or used bribes to get their own way in the community.  They had no regard for GOD or The Law and consequently abused the system horribly.  v6-7, “Can social works replace Spiritual Disciplines?”   No.  Works—no matter how good cannot replace Spirituality.  But Religious Rituals cannot replace them either and that is what Isaiah was speaking against.  Some Israelites became lax about The Moral Side of The Law.  They thought they could deliberately disobey It and still be Forgiven simply by going through the motions of ritual sacrifices.  Prophets like Isaiah taught that GOD Despises Empty Rituals Done By Insincere People.  GOD WANTS RIGHTEOUS LIVING THAT STEMS FROM WHOLEHEARTED COMMITMENT.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary – v3-12, A Fast Is A Day To Afflict The Soul; If It Does Not Express True Sorrow For Sin, And Does Not Promote The Putting Away Of Sin, It Is Not A Fast.  These Professors Had Shown Sorrow On Stated Or Occasioned Fasts.  But They Indulged Pride, Covetousness, And Malignant Passions.  To Be Liberal And Merciful Is More Acceptable To GOD Than Mere Fasting.  Which, Without Them, Is Vain And Hypocritical.  Many Who Seem Humble In GOD”S HOUSE, Are Harsh At Home, And Harass Their Families.  But No Man’s Faith Justifies, Which Does Not Work By LOVE.  Yet Persons, Families, Neighborhoods, Churches, Or Nations, Show Repentance And Sorrow For Sin, By Keeping A Fast Sincerely, And From Right Motives, Repenting, And Doing Good Works.  The Heavy Yoke Of Sin And Oppression Must Be Removed.  As Sin And Sorrow Dry The Bones And Weaken The Strongest Human Constitution; So The Duties Of Kindness And Charity Strengthen And Refresh Both Body And Mind.  Those Who Do Justly And Love Mercy, Shall Have The Comfort, Even In This World.  GOOD WORKS Will Bring The BLESSING OF GOD, Provided They Are Done From LOVE TO GOD And Man, And Wrought (Worked Out) In The Soul By THE HOLY SPIRIT.  Amen.

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