Today’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 58:1 through Isaiah 63:14
What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. –Isaiah 58:4
What was the point of Israel fasting? God certainly wasn’t impressed with them.
Here’s how they looked in God’s eyes: (58:1-2)
- They acted so pious
- They come to the temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me
- They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God
- They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me
In Isaiah’s day, many times fasting was seen as a way to twist God’s arm to get him to answer their prayers. Somehow the Israelites thought God could only see their actions and not their hearts:
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves and you don’t even notice it!’ ( 58:2)
Have you ever stopped something, started something, or changed something to twist God’s arm?
Then after a few days of “not getting the results you were looking for” you revert back to the same old you…
I wonder if God thinks the same thing about us that he thought about the Israelites:
Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? ( 58:5)
Are there things more important than fasting?
Isaiah lists those for us:
- Free those who are wrongly imprisoned
- Lighten the burden of those who work for you
- Let the oppressed go free
- Remove the chains that bind people
- Share your food with the hungry
- Give shelter to the homeless
- Give clothes to those who need them
- Do not hide from relatives who need your help
Our heavenly Father expects a heart change. When we become a Christian he wants us to be like him; to weep for what he weeps for, to reach out to those he wants to reach.
And if we “fast” like he wants us to, then we can expect (58:8-9):
- Our salvation to come like the dawn
- Our wounds to quickly heal
- Our godliness to lead us forward
- The Glory of the Lord to protect you from behind
- God to answer you, “yes, I’m here” when you call
But fasting is not about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing our hearts—helping us to look at a situation like God sees it.
Fasting is not just about food. Giving up anything we are dependent on and distracted by can be an amazing way to draw closer to God and to hear his voice more clearly.
What good is fasting?
If your desire is to be closer to God, it’s a life-changing discipline.
If you want to twist God’s arm to get your way, you probably are wasting your time.
Thanking God for you today!
© 2012 Dianne Guthmuller
Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading: Isaiah 63:15 through Isaiah 66:24; 2 Kings 20:20-21; 2 Chronicles 32:32-33