When fasting comes up I immediately think about not eating for some period of time, one meal, a whole day, a week. And this is certainly the common mode of fasting. But in this chapter God suggest a different kind of fast, one that involves positive action rather than simply giving food or something up for a period of time. I’ll let God explain this new fast:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (6-12)
I need to let this soak in. There is much here both in the way of action and reward. God’s new fast brings great reward and blessing.
I pondered this new fast. It is more about giving oneself away than giving up food or drink. It is about serving as opposed to not indulging. There is a lot here and it calls for a reframing of life…
Lord, I have never been great at fasting. Today’s Word raises the bar significantly. The plain call of the text is to give myself away for the sake of those in need. Today’s reading scares me because I really don’t want to sacrifice self pleasures for others. Today’s Word is showing me how selfish I really am. Lord that scares me.
Jesus, I confess that I need Your forgiving, redeeming grace in order to grow to truly be the man You want me to be. Help me, Lord. Help me. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.