Read Isaiah 58 - 63
In Today's Reading:
True fasting; sin, confession, and redemption; future glory of Jerusalem; the day of vengeance; God's loving-kindness to Israel
During Isaiah's time, the Israelite leaders complained to God: Why have we fasted . . . and You see not? why have we afflicted our soul, and You take no knowledge? (Isaiah 58:3). They accused Him of not paying attention to what they were doing and they felt they had wasted their time. The Lord answered: In the day of your fast you find pleasure (continue to seek selfish interests), and exact (exploit) all your labors (laborers). . . . you fast for (continue your) strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness (occupied with personal conflicts) (58:3-4).
Even more serious was their hypocrisy. The Lord said: Is it such a fast that I have chosen? . . . is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him (to impress others with pretended humility)? (58:5; also Luke 18:10-14). Through Isaiah, God reminded the Israelites that acceptable fasting was not to impress the world of how religious they were, but it was to seek the will of God through intercession. The Lord said the fast He would accept would be preceded by acts of kindness such as to loose the bands (bonds) of wickedness, to undo (release, remove) the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free. . . . to deal (divide) your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out (wandering) to your house. . . . when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh (never neglect your responsibility to your own family) (Isaiah 58:6-7).
If what we do for someone (or for the Lord) is meant to impose (or implies) expecting special favors in return, then our prayers and fasting will be futile. Our prayers are effective only when our attitude and our relationship with others unconditionally expresses the mercy and love of God.
Often, being a Christian is thought to be the sum total of things we don't do. But "Christian" is first and foremost who we are which is then expressed in what we do. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
As the One anointed to preach Good Tidings (Isaiah 61:1). Jesus read this passage to the rulers of the synagogue (Luke 4:16-22) but stopped before the completion of the second verse, thus showing that, although He fulfilled the first part, the second part -the day of judgment - was yet to be fulfilled. Christ heals the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1; Psalm 147:3) and frees us by His Truth (John 8:32-36).
60:5 flow together = become enlightened; fear = swell with joy; 61:3 appoint = comfort; 62:4 Hephzibah = My delight is in her; Beulah = married; 63:15 the sounding of thy bowels = the yearning affection of your heart.
Pray for The International Shortwave Radio Broadcast sponsored by Hands For Christ International · BP Staff: Kenneth Roy Roberts III · Country: Moldova (4 million) southeastern Europe · Major languages: Rumanian and Russian · Limited religious freedom · 66% Romanian/Russian/Bulgarian Orthodox; 3% Roman Catholic; 2% Protestant; 2% Jewish
Prayer Suggestion: Pray without anger or resentment in your heart (I Timothy 2:8).
Optional Reading: I Peter 2
Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 5:1