Chapter 58 reads like God is expressing a moment of complete exasperation. Picture the scene as the rabbi’s and the people are leaving synagogue; everyone is saying Shalom and God Bless You and oh, yes, we are doing well. Inside, their lives are shattered and empty because they are not getting the fulfillment from checking off the boxes in their Jewish religion. God, the creator, the master of the universe is feeling completely at a loss.
In His mind, it was never, is never, and will never be about checking the boxes. In the Lord’s construct, it is always about the state of one’s heart. God takes joy in our obedience–not, our sacrifice. God does not care if you ever skip a meal–if you are loving Him and loving others. If you want to skip a meal, fine, but at least take it to someone that is hungry. God says in short, if you want to be spiritual, I am grateful–but, do the right things and do them for the right reasons. Feed the hungry, cloth the ones who need clothes. House the homeless, visit the sick and the lonely ones.
God is not taking attendance at church. He is not putting stars by your name for religious endeavors. God has always looked at our lives and our hearts and simply asked that we surrender both to His leadership. If we will do that, the actions we do in His name will be real, heartfelt, and selfless–some would even say Christ like. That was the message from Isaiah on that Sabbath afternoon, and that is still the message thousands of years later. “Please, My dear ones, trust and follow Me. Don’t try to keep score–it is not a competition. Simply lose yourselves in learning to be like Me and serving others–that is the fasting that will bless Me!!!“
God Bless You
“Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And [b]exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the [c]heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are [d]cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The [e]pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your [f]darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.