Isaiah 58:6, 7 “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?”
God is answering the question from His people as to why He ignores their fasting. It seems that the two parties have a different idea about the purpose of fasting. The people were looking for a reward, not a change in behavior. God accuses them of finding selfish pleasure in their fasting while ignoring the plight of the oppressed among them. Probably most people who fast have not spent much time looking at these verses.
God desires His people to hold back from themselves and, at the same time to extend help to others. In our world today, we might fast by taking our food or its cost and giving it to someone else who needs it. Whatever we give up is best given away to someone in need. Interesting idea. Would it change our mind about the fast itself? I watched my father take food off of his plate and put it on mine. He wasn’t thinking about fasting, but his action demonstrated the heart and soul of these verses.
Task for Today: Plan a fasting day. What can you give up and give away on your fasting day? Instead of eating, feed someone. Instead of buying new shoes, give a pair away (new ones). Instead of doing something to make yourself happy, brighten someone’s day that lacks your ability to get something special. Share your food, your home, your clothes, yourself.