Read Isaiah 58
Highlights In Today's Reading:
Our sinful nature separates us from God (59:2-15). Solution: A Redeemer (59:16-21). The Light of the world (60:1,19-20). Jesus fulfills chapter 61 (Luke 4:16-29). The love of God, His mercy, pardon, and deliverance outlined in chapters 62 & 63.
Miraculous power is released from heaven through our fast ing and prayer while we seek the will of God. This is illustrated in Nineveh when their people fasted to avert its destruction. Esther and the Jews in captivity fasted to bring about their deliverance (Esth. 4:15-17). Our Lord gave instructions regarding the importance of fasting (Matt. 6:16-18; Luke 5:35).
The Israelites were complaining during Isaiah's time: Wherefore have we fasted . . . afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge (Is. 58:3). Why? The Lord revealed, through Isaiah, the fundamental requirements necessary for fasting that are acceptable to the Lord. First, the Israelites' fast did not result in the blessing they desired because the fast was self-centered. He pointedly said: In the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours when you should have repented for your sins . . . ye fast for strife and debate (58:3-4). They also fasted to impress others of a humility and godliness that they did not possess: To . . . spread sackcloth and ashes under him (58:5).
Their fasting was also futile: The yoke (oppression), the putting forth of the finger (being judgmental), and speaking vanity (self-righteousness) (58:9). If what we do for others or for the Lord imposes a yoke upon them — expecting favors in return — fasting will be ineffective.
A Christian is something we become — a chosen vessel to serve the Lord. 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. . . . Is it not to deal (distribute) thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? (58:6-7).
It is the Spirit-filled life that leads us to draw out (extend) thy (our) soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul (58:7,10). This is more than just giving bread to the hungry. It is becoming involved with sharing Christ's compassion with many who are oppressed by heathen darkness with no knowledge of the love of God. This should compel us to reevaluate our reasons for what we keep for ourselves.
Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday (58:10).
Thought for Today:
The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way (Ps. 25:9).
As the One anointed to preach Good Tidings (Is. 61:1). Jesus read this passage to the rulers of the synagogue (Luke 4:16-22) but stopped before reading the completion of the second verse (Is. 61:2), thus showing that He fulfilled the first part but, the second part, the day of judgment, was yet to be fulfilled.
60:5 see, and flow together = become enlightened, and shine forth the Light of God; fear = be in awe (the amazement at what God is doing), and then when that has registered, comes the joy; 61:3 appoint = impart comfort; 62:4 Hephzibah = my delight is in her; Beulah = carried; 63:15 the sounding of thy bowels = the yearning affection of your heart.
Pray for Assistant to the Executive Director of the IBRA in our Washington DC Branch: Terry Hall • Government Official: Rep. Connie Mack IV (FL) • Country: Albania (3.1 million) in southeastern Europe • Major languages: Albanian and Greek • Newly opened to evangelism • 41.5% Christian; 39% Muslim; 18.5% non-Religious/Other; .2% Baha'i; .01% Jewish • Prayer Suggestion: Humbly kneel before the Lord with a contrite heart as you pray (Ezra 9:5-6).
Optional Reading: 1 Peter 2
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 10:28