5 Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 [Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke?
7 Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house—when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and 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 from your midst yokes of oppression [wherever you find them], the finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and every form of false, harsh, unjust, and wicked speaking,
10 And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday.
11 And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
I was reminded of this passage this morning in prayer time with my prayer partners. It's not enough to go through the motions of a fast. If you're just doing it as an exercise, it does nothing. You can wear sackcloth and ashes like they did in the O.T., but it means nothing if you're heart's not in it and you're just doing it for show.
A true fast comes as we acknowledge our sin (he even names some in vs. 9) and sorrowfully repent. True repentance will lead to meeting the needs of others. As we do those things, the bands (which hold the neck) will be broken! Do you have something in your life you'd like broken off of you? I do. And as I come to God in repentance, that happens. Don't you love verses 8-12 and the results of a true fast? HE SETS US FREE! God wants to break those enslaving yokes off of our lives! Jesus wants to yoke up with us and He'll carry the heavy burdens and we get the light burdens.
A true fast brings freedom from things which enslave us.
I am married to Andy Dietz, pastor of First Baptist Church, Groom, TX. We've been in the ministry for over 35 years. We have four grown children and 10 beautiful grandchildren! I write to share what God is teaching me (it's a continual work in progress!) and to open the window to my life and allow you to look in.