This evening as I was going about my usual Friday evening activities I had this portion of scripture come to mind Isaiah 58:3
They say, “We fast to show honor to you. Why don’t you see us? We starve our bodies to show honor to you. Why don’t you notice us?” Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
(For the purpose of this short discussion I will use this version for its ease of understanding, I also suggest that you dear reader read the whole of Chapter 58 in your version of the Bible you prefer.)
I wonder how many of us through the years have said almost the same thing perhaps not in regard to fasting but in regard to the many things we do as we go about our walk with God. When it seems that life just isn’t going our way, we are not receiving the blessing we thought we should expect, after we gave all those things for God because our church taught it was the right way to please God? After all God I am doing everything the Pastor tells me I must do to be a good Christian…it just isn’t working Lord why?
But God says, “You do things to please yourselves on those special days of fasting. And you punish your servants, not your own bodies. 4 You are hungry, but not for food. You are hungry for arguing and fighting, not for bread. You are hungry to hit people with your evil hands. This is not the way to fast if you want your prayers to be heard in heaven! 5 Do you think I want to see people punish their bodies on those days of fasting? Do you think I want people to look sad and bow their heads like dead plants? Do you think I want people to wear mourning clothes and sit in ashes to show their sadness? That is what you do on your days of fasting. Do you think that is what the Lord wants? ERV
Could this be our answer? Have we taken the time to find out what God wants, or do we depend on others to tell us what he wants? Do we have a personal relationship with our God through Jesus his son or is our relationship with God through others, the pastor or the latest big name preacher on TV or the Internet? Without reading and thinking and praying over Gods word and letting it through the Holy Spirit speak to us personally it is so easy to lose our way and get away from life and into dead religion.
I didn’t come from a tradition where fasting was a big part of our formal practice, though it was taught that fasting and prayer was a good thing to do. Fasting was also about going without a meal or a number of meals to spend time with the Lord in prayer often for a specific need.
I remember the first time that I read this chapter many years ago I was surprised to find that Gods take on fasting was so different from that which was taught.
6 “I will tell you the kind of day I want—a day to set people free. I want a day that you take the burdens off others. I want a day when you set troubled people free and you take the burdens from their shoulders. 7 I want you to share your food with the hungry. I want you to find the poor who don’t have homes and bring them into your own homes. When you see people who have no clothes, give them your clothes! Don’t hide from your relatives when they need help.”ERV
Wow, what a different perspective this gives one! Now you say to me well this is Old Testament where did Jesus telL us to anything like this? Matthew 25:31-40
31 “The Son of Man will come again with divine greatness, and all his angels will come with him. He will sit as king on his great and glorious throne. 32 All the people of the world will be gathered before him. Then he will separate everyone into two groups. It will be like a shepherd separating his sheep from his goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to the godly people on his right, ‘Come, my Father has great blessings for you. The kingdom he promised is now yours. It has been prepared for you since the world was made. 35 It is yours because when I was hungry, you gave me food to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I had no place to stay, you welcomed me into your home. 36 When I was without clothes, you gave me something to wear. When I was sick, you cared for me. When I was in prison, you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the godly people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you with no place to stay and welcome you into our home? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?’ 40 “Then the king will answer, ‘The truth is, anything you did for any of my people here,[b] you also did for me.’ ERV
Let us think about this could this be part of the reason our lives are so barren and filled with lack?
(Also read the rest of the chapter of Matthew and see what Jesus says will happen if we don’t do this. For anyone who may want to read the version I have used in this article https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+58&version=ERV )