Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:6-8
Do the doldrums immobilize you? Can a pitiful mood draw you to destructive food? Have you all but given up on feeling alive and well? Well sit down, honey. Let me draw you a cup o’ tea and we’ll see what the Good Lord has to say.
Let’s turn to the words of the 58th chapter of the prophet Isaiah. God is speaking once again to those insolent Israelites who tended toward religion vs. contrite surrender to His commands. Like a petulant young ‘un, they would fast one day then seek their own way the next. “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all our workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist.” In other words, they lived in the Spirit one moment and in the flesh soon after. Can you relate? They were whinin’ to the Lord about why He wasn’t answering their prayers when they’d been so faithful to fast. Well, don’t ask God somethin’ if you don’t want an honest response. Go read Isaiah 58:6-12 right now. I’ll go reheat the tea pot while you’re reading.
Don’t you relish Divine directness? He dearly loves us but mercy, He sure can point out our impudence. He said to the Israelites: Is not this the fast that I chose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Ooooowweeee! Those Israelites were busted!
I’m haunted often by Philippians 2:4 But what in the world does all this have to do with feeling dowdy and defeated in your fitness? It’s ‘cus you’re focusing on you. Your downcast feelings. Your pity party. Your apathy toward temple care. And how tired and achy you feel. But what if you surrendered yourself as a servant of the Lord to undo the straps of the yoke to let the oppressed go free?
Let’s stop here for a moment and consider: Who do you know who also struggles with eating healthfully and walking regularly? You’ve commiserated often over your shared sluggishness. So why have you not loosed the bond of lethargy and undone the strap of apathy? You can’t just commiserate and think anything will change. Like God prodded the Israelites, take action! It’s not all about you, saints! Step up and assist the ailing. “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” Quit hiding yourself from your own flesh! Many a member of the Body of Christ could use a word of encouragement in tending to their temple. If you’re feeling blue, someone else is too! So get up off that couch and use that fancy phone to call and invite someone to walk with you. And yes, I said call. Heaven forbid you have an actual conversation…
THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily!! (Is 58:8a)
Oh saints, we must consider the needs of others, believing it is our own path to joy and release from bondage. “…if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, THEN shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Is 58:10)
So go on now. Quit your mopin’ and “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (Heb 12:12)