Isaiah 58 -- 63
Miraculous power is released from Heaven through prayer and fasting, as our fleshly needs and desires are put aside, while we seek more of the will of God in our lives as well as in our nation. But the Israelites during Isaiah's time complained to God: Why have we fasted . . . Why have we afflicted our soul, and You take no knowledge? (Isaiah 58:3) -- meaning: "We see no answers -- no results." Through Isaiah, the Lord revealed the fundamental requirements necessary for effective prayer and fasting as well as the reasons why their prayers were not answered. Isaiah replied: In the day of your fast you find pleasure (continue to seek selfish interests), and exact (exploit) all your labors (oppress your workmen). . . . You fast (but continue your) strife and debate (personal conflicts) (58:3-4).
Even more serious was their hypocrisy, fasting to be seen by others, to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him (to impress others with a pretended humility and godliness) (58:5). Through Isaiah, God reminded the Israelites that true fasting must include humility and godliness and serving the Lord with compassion for those who are suffering: 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 you break every (enslaving) yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out into your house? when you see the naked, that you clothe him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh (never neglect your responsibility to your own family)? (58:6-7).
Added to this, Isaiah wrote: If you take away from the midst of you the yoke (failure to express mercy), the putting forth of the finger (judging others), and speaking vanity (self-righteousness) (58:9). If what we do for others or for the Lord imposes (or implies) a yoke of bondage upon them or if we expect special favors in return, our prayers and fasting will be ineffective.
The futility of prayer and fasting in Isaiah's day contrasted greatly with Moses, who fasted 40 days when he received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:27-28). The destruction of Nineveh was averted when its sinful people fasted and repented because God could now deal with them in grace rather than in judgment (Jonah 3:5-10). Esther and the Jews in Persia fasted, and it brought about their deliverance from evil Haman (Esther 4:3,16). Daniel fasted three weeks as he agonized over his people and their sins, during which time God sent the archangel Michael to overcome satanic forces in his behalf (Daniel 9:3; 10:12-13). Jesus fasted 40 days while He was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-2). Cornelius' fasting led to his conversion and to his receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:30-45). Jesus gave specific instructions regarding fasting, which makes it clear to those who obey His Word that we are expected to fast (Matthew 6:16-18; Luke 5:35). When we fast, we should do so secretly unto the Lord, maintaining the appearance of joy and victory which is the end result of true fasting.
Being a Christian is often thought of as the sum total of things we don't do. But being a Christian is first and foremost something that we become -- conformed to the image of God's Son (Romans 8:29).
The indwelling Holy Spirit causes the love of God to respond to the needs of others. So many people do not have a Bible or Bible-teaching helps. They are spiritually hungry and afflicted. Our Lord will say: Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me (Matthew 25:35,40).
As the One anointed to preach the Gospel of Good Tidings (Isaiah 61:1). Jesus preached this passage to the rulers of the synagogue (Luke 4:16-22), stopping 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; Psa. 147:3) and frees us by His truth (John 8:32-36).
58:4 debate means contention; quarreling; 58:11 fat means strong; 60:5 flow together means become enlightened; fear means swell with joy; 60:11 force of the Gentiles means wealth of the nations; 61:3 appoint means comfort; 62:4 Hephzibah means My delight is in her; Beulah means married; 63:10 vexed means grieved; 63:15 the sounding of thy bowels means the yearning affection of your heart.
BPM Staff: Karen Hawkins · Pray for Rick Hash and the Bible Pathway Radio Broadcasts on WWYO-AM, Pineville, WV · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in memory of Paul & Margaret Ellen Hawkins · Country: Andorra (53,000) in the eastern Pyrenees between France and Spain · Major languages: Catalan and French · Religious freedom · 94% Roman Catholic; .6% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to give you discernment in all decisions (I Corinthians 2:14).
I Peter 2
Memory Verse for the Week:
II Thessalonians 1:8