God’s words through the prophet Isaiah today are very challenging. So often those who claim to worship God and Jesus make an outward show of doing so – but God knows their hearts. The prophet’s words are one’s we need to always remember. God tells the prophet, “declare to the people their transgressions … yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God” [ch. 58 v.1,2]
They question why God is not blessing them as a result of this worship and ask, “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? [v.3] and receive the answer, “Behold in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure … you fast only to quarrel and to fight … quarrelling like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high” [v.4] that is, God will not listen to their prayers and petitions: note Jeremiah 7 v,16, 11 v.14.
Then God declares, “Is not this the fast that I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness … to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him.” [v.6,7] Fasting is abstaining, to go without in order to help others, it applies to much more than food. God sees it in a positive sense – of abstaining from being self-centred, let’s see it from God’s perspective..
If we are Christ-centred we will follow his example being really conscious of the way of life he taught. We are about to read this in Matthew’s Gospel, it was much more than a way to learn true belief, although that is a foundation.
Isaiah declares, “if you … satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then … the LORD will guide you continually … and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” [v.10-11] What a delightful word picture, it encourages us to think of the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman, “”The water that I will give him will become in him (or her) a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” [John 4 v.14] May we all “water” our minds daily with the word of God.