“Is this not the fast that I have chosen…?” (Isaiah 58:6)
Isaiah 58 focuses detailed attention on the promises of God associated with the blessings and benefits of fasting with proper motivation. This single chapter offers 20 specific promises of God’s direct blessing for His people who engage in “the fast that [He] has chosen.”
Isaiah 58 reveals what God values most. Isaiah starts with a call to repentance. And why? It initially looks like His people are doing the right things by seeking Him daily, delighting in His ways, doing righteousness, searching out God’s laws, delighting in approaching God (v. 2). Like me, you may have initially asked, “What is wrong with that?”
The people ask “Why have we fasted? … Why have we afflicted our souls?” (v. 3). We find in God’s response that His people would find pleasure in their fasts, fast for strife and debate, and to make their [own] voices heard on high. It very much sounds as if they were fasting with a focus on themselves and to coerce God to hear them and to bless. They were trying to make their own “if / then” rules (i.e., if we do this, then God will do this). However, in God’s sight, their motives were not pure. Through Isaiah, He instructs His people to examine their motivations.
God then starts in Isaiah 58:6 sharing His desires for His people—to see them set free, fed, housed, clothed; to heal their afflicted souls; and so on. It is a passionate focus on God’s faithful love and care. Verse 13 addresses whether we live for ourselves or for God. Throughout Isaiah 58, God gives His own “if/then” statements. He offers His people many promises, saying “the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard… you shall call and the Lord will answer.”
Do you want a freshness of God in your life? Personal revival? Perhaps it is simply a need to align yourself to the values and nature of God. We trust that by going through Isaiah 58—and examining your heart in the light of God’s word—you will be challenged to properly align yourself to God. (By David Swanson)
In your time seeking God today:
- Reread Isaiah 58 and underline all the “if” statements.
- In your prayer journal list out all the benefits in Isaiah 58 (normally these come after a “then”).
- As you go through this full and rich chapter, highlight or underline all the action verbs that have to do with loving or serving others.
- In your prayer time today, thank God for who He is and what He has done for you. Also, dedicate or re-dedicate these days to Him and ask Him to reveal areas in your life that may need to be refocused on godly priorities.
- John 13:1-13
- Matthew 20:26