Teaching on Fasting - ISAIAH 58
BREAK EVERY YOKE
Ellerslie, MD August 2006 last update: Feb. 2016
This is The Fasting Chapter of the Bible. I sense Isaiah speaks as one who knew the experience and power of fasting. This chapter is on one hand a plea against hypocrisy in religious acts and on the other hand it is a teaching on fasting. The study of this chapter gives ample opportunity for a professing believer to examine his faith. Is God's righteousness our righteousness? Are we real or are we hypocrites? Are we trying to establish our own righteousness or are we truly submitting ourselves unto the righteousness of God? Are we operating in our own strength and wisdom or are we relying upon God through His Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us? Are we doing things in our own way according to our own pleasures or are we serving God according to His desires and His will? Is His will our will, are His choices our choices? Are we trying to impress man rather than humbly submitting to God? Is the fast to God? Are we accomplishing our work for Christ in our own strength or in His strength? John 15:5 Is our business, or anything else interfering with our faith in Jesus Christ?
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
The end does not justify the means. There is a wrong way and a right way to do the right thing. I endeavor to search my heart & soul during fasting. In Dan 9 as Daniel began fasting and praying confession was first upon his heart and lips. "And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession…" Dan 9:3-4
What do I know about Biblical fasting? Do I fast? Is fasting for me?
Jesus: "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Matt 6:16-18 Fasting is not to impress
others or to prove to others you are spiritual but it is to be seen by God and for His glory. God sees the true fast and He rewards as He chooses. The fast is unto God. Zach 7:5 "...when ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even unto me?"
In 1969 I worked in Israel in Karen Kyemit LeIsrael (Jewish National Fund) in a forest station in Yatir near the 1967 border between Jordan & Israel. It is mentioned in the Bible and is near Eshtemoa. 1 Sam 30:27-28 It is one of the cities to which David distributed spoil after the destruction of Ziklag. ( 1 Sam 30:31) The boss of my group showed up at work one day unshaven. I asked him if he did not have time to shave. He said that he did not shave because he is fasting.
v1 To help the Jews one must speak to them of their sins. A similar message is found in Is 40:1-2 and Micah 3:8. Sin must be recognized then dealt with. In Isaiah chapter 1 the prophet deals with the sins of the Jews, and Isaiah did that first thing in his long book of 66 chapters. These were practicing Jews who were faithful doing the required religious acts, even going beyond the required by fasting. "Come now and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Is 1:18 Sin today can only be forgiven through personal faith in Jesus The Messiah. The Gentiles have the same need, the forgiveness of their sins. Is 57 ends with "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." The Jews mentioned here in chapter 58 did not have the peace of God, because they did not have a spiritual fast, only a physical fast. Not only their fasting was rejected by Jehovah, but all their other spiritual activities were rejected because of their heart attitude.
Some thoughts here given came from the Keil & Delitzsch commentary on Isaiah. I will note it by (K&D).
Sin must be declared that it might be dealt with. Sin must be exposed so that the sinner can realize his sin and then repent. This is one of the purposes of the Law of Moses. Sin in the life of believers must also be exposed. Sin must first be pardoned, and then there is the possibility of acceptable service. "Lift up your voice like a trumpet". In Hebrew trumpet is shofar (bugle). Loud and clear! with all the strength of the onviction & assurance the message must be proclaimed and then it can be heard and obeyed. Fasting is helpful to the backslider when he is in the process of returning to Christ. 1 Sam 7:6 Samuel led the Jews who wanted to return to Jehovah to fast in preparation for repentance.
A Christian minister helped his young relative. His parents first sent him to a secular psychological counselor. The young relative did not get the help he needed from the counseling. Then the minister gave him Biblical counseling from God's word dealing with his sins and only then he was greatly helped. Sin must be dealt with. God wants His people to see their sins and to repent, then change their attitudes and actions. Here His people are the Jews. Today the Jews are still His chosen people and there has been added to God's family those who have found salvation in Jesus Christ. Most of the Jewish people are not part of the remnant of Israel, who are those who are in a spiritual relation with Jehovah. Rom 11:5 God is concerned about the sins of born again believers. The born again believer in Jesus Christ must confess his sins. 1 Jn 1:9 The Jews are God's chosen people but that does not include the salvation of their souls. They must be saved by personal faith in Jesus Christ the only Savoir and the true Messiah of Israel. He is the Kinsman Redeemer, Goel-גואל All people must come the same way, only through the LORD Jesus Christ. Jn 14:6
v2 After being expelled from Israel on May 1, 1988 I went to the island of Crete for a 30 day & night fast drinking only water, eating no food. I camped on a mountain in a tent that Billy Watson gave me. I was in the olive orchard of Elias Tubbeh who was born in Jerusalem. I went through this chapter during the fast. The negative points of vs 2-5 I turned into positive goals. The fasting Jews listed 6 spiritual acts in v. 2 that they were practicing and accomplishing. These were goals they believed they were accomplishing, or at least claimed they were accomplishing. God did not accept 1 of the 6.
1. "Yet they seek me daily." These Jews who were fasting were hypocrites. They knew from the prophets, the priests, the Word and the scribes what was right for a believer to do. What they claimed they were accomplishing, they were not. The 'Yet' ties v2 in with v1. (K&D) Here are their sins. In spite of their sins they were practicing spiritual exercises. A backslidden Christian should make an effort to return to Jesus Christ. If his attitude is one of repentance, going to church can help him, as well as reading the Bible and praying. Do we seek Him daily with the right attitude? Are we earnest in our seeking His face. Solomon Ostrovsky of Israel had his devotions from 2 AM to 6 AM. He was a pastor in Jaffa, Israel from about 1930 to 1995. George Wald was a missionary in Egypt for 25 years and 25 years in Israel. He raised 4 children. He got up each morning at 5 AM for his devotions. When he was about 85 he told me he could not remember a day he did not get up at 5AM. Let us seek Him daily.
2. "And delight to know my ways." The same Hebrew word for delight appears in the 2nd spiritual act and at end of this verse in the 6th act. יחפצון yechpatzun This is typical of Isaiah. (K&D) Are Christ's ways our delight? May God search our hearts. From Ps 40:8 we understand that the Messiah delights to do the Father's will. The same Hebrew word is used. חפץ - chafetz May Jesus Christ be our joy. JOY = Jesus Our Yearning. Irene Levy had Bible clubs for youth in NYC: Our J.O.Y. Hour. Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last in 1946. Irene's biography is "From McComb to Jerusalem". We desire to reach the spiritual state where God's will for our lives becomes our will. I confess that has not always been my spiritual state. Many things I did in my life for Christ I did because I knew it was God's will in spite of the fact I did not want to do it. I have been fasting at least since 1963 (now 2016). Many of my decisions about what to do were made during a fast. Once I knew God's will I sought His grace to accomplish it. A saying which helped me is "Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light." For me a decision made during a fast is made in the light. Ezra 8:21-23 See my commentary of Is 58:11. Not all things related to my personal life decided in a fast came to pass. But many of them did happen. I am talking about decisions for events in my life.
3. "As a nation that did righteousness". Isaiah was thinking of the nation of Israel but I want to bring it down to the personal level. Do we do right? Is that our aim in life? Do we want to do right in all areas of our lives? God forgive us and God help us! Is this the goal of our family, or our church? Bob Jones Sr said "Do right, though the stars fall, do right." Are we familiar enough with the Bible to know what is right? If your attitude nd actions are just, it will help your fast. If you are a backslidden Christian, fasting will help you to return to Christ.
4. "And forsook not the ordinance of their God." Do we forsake God's ways and His commands? When the Messiah was stricken, the disciples fled.
Zechariah 13:7 "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones."
Matthew 26:31 "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
Peter denied Christ. And what of us? Let us not forsake our Christ nor Biblical principles. Christ will not leave nor forsake His own. Heb 13:5
5. "They ask of me the ordinances of justice." What are we asking of God? Are we asking according to the lust of our flesh or as the Holy Spirit leads? Is God's Truth our Truth? His righteousness our righteousness? Are we in agreement with God's decisions about our lives? Do we seek to live our lives according to His rules and principles and justice? according to His will? Is 57:15 tells us we need a contrite and holy spirit. In March 1988 I was before the Supreme Court of Israel. I was fighting for the right to remain in Israel. I was told to leave Israel May 1, 1988. On the wall of the courthouse I read Isaiah 1:27.
"Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness."
6. "They take delight in approaching God." יחפצון - yechpatzun Same form as in the delight used in the 2nd spiritual act of this verse. Do we look forward to our moments with God? Do we enjoy our time in God's
presence? How precious are our moments with Christ? What are we excited about? These hypocritical Jews did this in their own flesh and initiative, expecting much in return. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to approach often our God and Savoir Jesus Christ. Let God choose what you are to receive. They expected and desired God to come close to them to deliver them, save them, help them and give them what they wanted. (K&D) Reading the Bible can lead to worship & praise. Fasting will help you to approach God and His Son. Fasting will help your spirit to be contrite and holy. Fasting will humble your soul. Ps 35:13 David:
"I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into my own bosom." We express our burdens in prayer and they are constantly upon our hearts. Not in the sense that we are not trusting God with the request but we are concerned about the gravity of the situation as it weighs upon our hearts. Paul had "... great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart." for the lost Jews. Rom 9:2 Paul prayed for them. See also Rom 10:1
v3 Here the work-righteous who hold up their fasting before God complain to God. (K&D) They have 2 questions to present to God. In v5 these 2 questions will be followed by 6 from God. "Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not?" They realize that He does not see their sacrifices, which is in the sense of accepting them. They should have had deep heart searching when they realized that God took no knowledge of their afflicting themselves by fasting. Wonderful they understood that God took no knowledge of their religious acts. There is no spiritual blessing in their fast. It is similar to the question in 1 Sam 4:3 after Israel lost 4000 soldiers in the battle at Aphek against the Philistines. "And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies." They did not take the time or effort to find out why God smote them, but tried a religious 'trick' or superstition hoping the holy ark of the covenant would bring God's deliverance. It did not work, it did the opposite, it brought judgment from God don them. They were not looking to God, but to something physical from the Tabernacle. They treated it as a "good luck piece". God seeks true repentance, followed by a desire to forsake the sin. "Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?" These fasters are hypocrites and liars. It is true that they fasted, but the affliction of the soul or its humbling did not occur. They made their bodies to suffer, but no work of grace was done in their soul. True fasting is designed to humble the soul. These Jews knew what fasting is because the prophets had told them and I assume showed them by fasting themselves.
The verb used in v3 'afflicted' ענינו and v5 'afflict ענות , is the verb used with fasting in the O.T.. In Lev 16 are the instructions for the Day of Atonement, the sane verb is used in v 29 תענו & 31 ועניתם and are translated "ye shall afflict" in KJV even though the verb is in different cases in the 2 uses. It is the same verb. It is the soul that is to be afflicted. The Jews understand this to mean fast. The word fasting is not used in the descriptions about The Day of Atonement in Lev 16. The KJV translated the verb in Ps 35:13 with humbled עניתי. Aniti David: "I humbled my soul with fasting." The verb is used in Ezra 8:21. "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict להתענות lehitanot ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance." True fasting does humble the soul. The fasting of the hypocritical Jews in the time of Isaiah was a heartless, dead work which was worthless in God's sight. Their false fasts did not produce true humility, nor impress Jehovah. It actually produced pride in the fact that they were able to fast. I imagine at this time there were Jews like Isaiah who fasted with the proper attitude. Soul is mentioned 5 times in this chapter. When a believer is in a true fast God can reach his soul. This is one of the main purposes of the fast, to afflict the soul. Fasting facilitates God's desire & ability to deal with our souls. The hypocritical fasters were not careful with their fast days. "Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours." They were finding pleasure and were involved in their businesses. (K&D) A similar warning is given in v 13 about the Sabbath. "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor
finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:". There is record of coal miners during the Welch Revival 1904-1905 who fasted even though they went to work in the coal mines. As I recall, some fasted 40 days and nights. If the Christian faster has to work during the fast God understands. I have offended in doing my own pleasure in many fasts. I have been too occupied with correspondence and phone calls, and emails. But I feel so strongly that it is such an integral part of my ministry. May the Holy Spirit give me understanding in this. It has been a fight for many years. I wrote the first draft of this message during a 15 day fast in Ellerslie, MD in Sept 2006 and it was so true with that fast. I am not saying it is wrong to fast while one has to carry on his daily duties, as going to work or a house wife caring for her house and family. There are times when a believer is led to fast and he or she cannot stop their daily duties. In 1965 or 1966 I had a 28 days and nights fast when I had a full time job and was a full time student in Tenn. Temple Schools. When I am busy while fasting, I try to stop at meal time and read the Bible and pray. J. Harold Smith tells in his book on fasting that in a 40 day fast he continued his strenuous schedule of preaching and radio work. The name of his book is "Fast Your Way to Health". It is available in amazon.com. I highly recommend it. I gave 2 messages on fasting in Bucharest, RO on the same Sunday in 2 churches. In each service I was told of a man who was saved under the preaching of J. Harold Smith. That is 2 different men. In the morning my translator was an American and he said his grandfather was saved when J. Harold Smith preached. In the evening meeting an American was in the audience and he said he was saved when J. H. S. was preaching.
Dr. Paul Freed founder of Trans World Radio in 'Towers to Eternity' spoke of the fasting and prayer of his parents when they were in the Middle East. "One of my happiest memories of childhood has to do with Mother and Father's belief in prayer and fasting. Friday, late afternoon and evening, was set aside in their week for this purpose. But I suppose that the thing that impressed me most as a child was that Ruth (his sister) and I never felt that we had to fast with them. In fact, Mother would go out of her way on prayer and fast night to prepare for us the most wonderful meal of all. She often let us decide what we would like most for Friday supper. It must have been a real temptation for her as she prepared hot breads or cinnamon rice, and as the kitchen was filled with delicious smells on the evenings when she ate nothing. This evidence of love, plus their allowing us rather than forcing us to do as they did, stimulated our growth in grace, our desire to learn to walk with the One whom our parents followed closely. To this day I associate prayer and fasting with an unforgettable time of enjoyment."
Once in Bulgaria in Russe a sister prepared a nice meal for me and her sister Valichka. She was in the midst of a 30 day fast but still made the meal
The ideal situation as I see it is to be quiet and alone before God, free from other responsibilities. That's what Moses did on Mt. Horeb two times for 40 days and nights and what Jesus did in His 40 days & nights fast in the wilderness jut after being baptized by Joh the Baptist. Dt 9:8-20, Mt 4:1-11 I wonder if John the Baptist visited Jesus Christ when He was fasting in the wilderness? My situation of being in full time service for Christ enabled me to schedule as much as 2 months consecrated to a 30 or 40 days and nights fast. My being single also makes fasting easier. After a long fast it takes 2 weeks to regain strength and get the body used to normal eating habits. I tried in the long fasts after breaking the fast to remain 15 days where I was before I started traveling.
"And exact all your labours." They deny themselves in fasting and they deny others who are worthy, as workers who work for them. In v7 "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry…". They do not give their workers their due wages. The word "labours" is found in Ps 127:2 and it is translated "the bread of sorrows" referring to his hard labour. The laborers were being denied their due.
K&D explain that the root word from which fast comes means to press, to tie up, constrain. God through fasting puts pressure on the faster, He ties up their time and constrains them to make things right between God and the faster and then to pray about special requests and calls the believer to have unique fasting fellowship with God and His Christ. K&D say that the ancient church called a fast statio, because he who fasted had to wait in prayer day and night like a soldier at his post. צום - Tzom is the Hebrew for fast. It has as primary idea the mouth being shut. That is a good time to be quiet!
K& D in their comments on vs 3&4 say that fasting is voluntary. Let us be volunteers for Jesus Christ.
v 4 These fasters ended up in strife and debate, instead of in a contrite and humble spirit. Obviously there was a bad spirit. They went so far as to clench their fists and strike out with their evil fists at others. This reminds me of Jezebel's fast to kill Naboth. 1 Kgs 21 In vs 9 & 12 the fast is proclaimed. The godly, Law honoring Naboth was killed. Note Ahab's fast after the announcement of judgment by Elijah. 1 Kg 21:27-29 Jezebel's fast was a false fast but Ahab's was a true fast recognized by God.
One of the purposes of fasting is here given: "to make your voice to be heard on high". An improper fast will not accomplish this, but a chosen fast, an acceptable fast will cause your voice to be heard by God. Jehovah designed the human body in such a way that fasting would help the believer to reach
his soul. The end of v 5 says "an acceptable day of the Lord." What price are we willing to pay to be heard on high? And to be accepted by God Almighty? Are we willing to fast if we are physically able? "Acceptable" in the positive sense is seen in Is 56:6-7 & 61:2. In Is 56 tells us of even strangers, none Jews, being accepted by Jehovah. God's House shall be called an house of prayer for all people, and their sacrifices will be accepted. Is 56:7 Isaiah 61:1-2a Jesus quoted and said these 2 verses refer to Him. Lk 4:16-21 "To proclaim the acceptable year of the LRD." Is 61:2a In Is 58:6 the chosen fast is acceptable.
When God begins to ask you questions, take it very seriously. It may be He is trying to point out to you your sin. And He may ask you more than you ask Him! I see 6 questions in verse 5 that God asked the Jews. The number of questions depends on how you divide them up.
v5 "Is it such a fast that I have chosen?" K& D translate chosen as pleasure. There is a fast which God chooses and takes pleasure in. The fast described here was not accepted. "a day for a man to afflict his soul?" Here is the verb that is often joined with fasting "to afflict" his soul. Fasting is difficult, and it weakens the body. This is part of the purpose of a fast. Though your body weakness, you have the possibility of becoming strong in spirit. 11 Cor 12:9 Jesus said: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." If your heart attitude is not right, the fast is a waste of time for spiritual benefit. The purpose of the fast is not to suffer hunger but to arrive at a spiritual state that better enables you to communicate with God. Fasting facilitates the access of the believer to his soul and to Christ Himself. There is physical benefit to fasting. I would like to know more about this. J. Harold Smith talks about this in his book on fasting (Fasting Your Way to Health). As the body weakens the head goes down. "is it to bow down his head as a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?" Often in a fast I realize my head is down, then I try to walk straight to not appear as if I am weak. Believers do well to strive after a fast in which God is pleased. The use of sackcloth and ashes by fasters was for further recognition of their fasting and their consequent suffering because of denying themselves necessary food. Obviously sackcloth could be used to show their suffering rather than being an expression of their deep internal feelings. Sackcloth in its origin was an expression of their deep
internal suffering. God can use the suffering of fasting, with the weakness it creates to humble a soul. It all depends on the faster's attitude. "Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?" The Jewish fasters called it an acceptable fast, but not God. If a faster shares his fasting experience, he needs to do it in the attitude of giving glory to Christ and not to himself. One of the reasons I share my fasting is to encourage Christians
and churches to fast. In Feb. 2016 I led a 3 day fasting conference in a church in Romania. The church was blessed and a 7 day fasting conference is planned for Feb. 2017. There are 6 questions asked by God in this verse. God is definitely trying to drive home a point!!! Let us search our hearts as to our motivation for what we do in our service to Jesus Christ. May our service to our Messiah & Master be acceptable in His sight. Not just our fasting but all our service done unto Him. AMEN!
v6 This verse starts out with a question. "Is not this the fast that I have chosen?" The Hebrew word is הלוא – halo, meaning "is it not so? surely". After the questions that led to rebukes, now there will follow a clear statement of what a true fast is and what it accomplishes. This fast is pleasing to God because of what it accomplishes. God tells us what He expects to be accomplished by a true fast. A false fast will not accomplish these goals. This verse is a jewel, a classic. It is a verse to be remembered, memorized, and practiced. This verse more than any other tells the power & purpose of fasting. A key that can unlock the unlimited resources of God is here given. Let us never forget it.
"To loose the bands of wickedness". We note in Matt 17:21 "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." The disciples could not cast out the devil from the lunatic son but Jesus did. Matt 17:20-21 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grainof mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove ; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
The fast is helpful in freeing others from addictions to sin and from demon possession. Fasting will help believers who are oppressed by demons and none believers who are possessed by demons. The ability of the non believers to help themselves is very limited, almost none existent. Fasting can help believers who are overcome by sin. Fasting can bring the backslider back to Christ. The disciples could not cast out the demon and they asked Jesus why they could not. This, v.21, is Jesus' response to the disciples' question. Elmer L. Towns calls this The Disciple's Fast. Evil has taken hold of many. They are bound, they are slaves to sin. They are powerless to help themselves. We through our ministry have the possibility to deliver them. We have power through giving them the Word of God, and praying for them. All things being equal, to fast and pray is better, and more powerful than prayer alone. Persons involved in sexual sins need our fasting prayers. Do you know a prostitute? or a man who has sex with prostitutes? People involved in human trafficking? Fast and pray for them. K & D translate 'bands' as coils. The coils remind me of a rattle snake coiled to strike its victim. This same Hebrew word and in the same form for 'bands' is used in Ps 73:4. The wicked who prosper appear to have no 'bands' in their death and their strength is firm but in reality they are in chains (Ps 73v 6) because of their pride they are bound but can be freed as Is 58:6 says. In Nov. 2006 I was in Manitoba, Canada. I saw many drunken aborigines. The Word and prayer is their hope. I was in Thompson, Manitoba Nov. 2014 and I met Johnny Miles and his wife Jeanna. Johnny is on You Tube: Johnny Miles Cree Hymns. He sang Christian Hymns, but in Nov. 2014 he & Marie were drinking alcohol. Johnny & Marie need prayer, fasting prayer, and I am praying for them (March 1, 2016). I saw in Odessa, UA drunk men sleeping near the sidewalk of the street with the wild dogs. Sometimes in a restaurant in UA you can see a man passed out from alcohol at his table or on the floor.
"To undo the heavy burdens". A literal translation of 'burdens' is yoke. The word 'heavy' can be related to the heavy piece of wood used in the yoke on the oxen. Fasting can help to solve problems, and to inviting the Holy Spirit's aid in lifting loads and overcoming barriers that keep us and our
loved ones from walking joyfully with the Lord. (Elmer Towns) Let us be burden bearers for others. Gal 6:2 "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Your fasting and praying can lift burdens. If you are overburdened, fast for release. Are you fearful? Then fast for yourself in order to be free & fearless, wholly trusting Christ.
"To let the oppressed go free". The word 'oppressed' can refer to those persons unjustly and forcibly oppressed even with cruelty. The human traffickers who oppress their victims. It can refer to those oppressed by sin, virtual prisoners of evil. The faster can become the key person in deliverance. Fasting for persecuted Christians is strategic. ISIS has been slaughtering Christians in the Syrian conflict since 2011to the present 2016. News in Jan. 2016 says 10,000 or more children who were registered in a country after fleeing the Middle East disappeared. By the end of March 2016 President Bashar Assad started to defeat ISIS. I try during my fasts to remember abortion.
And fasting for backslidden believers is strategic.
1 Sam 7:6 "And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh." Samuel used fasting to help the repenting Jews to come back to Jehovah. In the book of Joel is recorded that the LORD called sinning Israel back to Himself, and He told them to fast. The fasting would help them to repent. Joel 2:12-17
Israel needed deliverance from their sins. Elmer L. Towns calls this the Samuel Fast. Israel had a good spiritual attitude at this time so they naturally began fasting and confessing, endeavoring to return to Jehovah.
There are so many who are oppressed and therefore are prisoners. Their suffering can be indescribable. How much better for them to be free! For this God has given fasting to the church of Jesus Christ. In Is 14:17 it is said of Satan "opened not the house of his prisoners." Satan does not want his prisoners set free. Fasting will help believers to set free some of Satan's prisoners. Will we take advantage of this spiritual tool of deliverance? this source of unlimited power? May Jesus Christ help us, He who fasted 40 days and nights. Matt 4:1-11 There are hindrances to a person being able to fast, diabetes is an example. Those who are on medicine also face a problem. A German born again Christian doctor I met around 2000 who has several patients of his who fast said I should take my medicine when I fast. I do not take my medicine when I fast. Fortunately I am on only 2 medicines, one for blood thinning and one for blood pressure.
"and that ye break every yoke." From this statement I got the title of this message, Break Every Yoke. You can do it with fasting. We are encouraged by the word 'every'. God is able to help anybody, no matter to what extent they have entered into sin. That is if they have not sinned away their day of grace. Rom 1:24 We are the link between them and Christ and their freedom. We can have a part in their deliverance. In Christian rehabilitation homes there is success because the work is based around the work of Christ in an individual's life. I would encourage those working with drug addicts or alcoholics to use fasting in their ministry with the addicts. This is the fast that God has chosen, the fast in which He finds pleasure. The command to the faster: "BREAK EVERY YOKE!" "And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing." Isaih 10:27 There are believers who are given a unique anointing for the ministry of deliverance. But all believers who are spiritually right can help in deliverance. Deliverance is a delicate, dangerous ministry. My roommate Horatio Guy in Bible School was from the Philippines and he had experience in dealing with demons. He said when you deal with demons you should be fasting.
Here in v 6 we see one of the main purposes for fasting: to break the evil yoke that binds people. When a believer breaks the evil yoke from people God is pleased and this is one of the purposes of fasting and one of the purposes of believers and it is God's pleasure to set prisoners free. It seems evident to me that I received a calling to fasting. I was saved in 1960 and by 1963 I was fasting. Lester Roloff came to my Bible School, TTS, and encouraged us to fast one day a week. I soon began to go beyond 1 day fasts, to 3 days, then a week, then 15 days. I I did. The call came from within me. As I recall in 1966 I did 24 to 28 days, I do not remember exactly the number of days. I was a full time student in TTS and I had a full time job. I returned to the long fasts in 1988 when I fasted 30 days and nights with only water. In Jan. 1990 I did the first of three 40 days and nights fasts with only water, no food. I did many fasts of 30 & 35 days & nights. In 2002 I tried 40 days but stopped after the 37th day as I recall. That was the only fast I had in which I had physical problems. In my long fasts to the best of my knowledge I never had a headache.
I have found in my life that fasting was necessary. Wickedness is in me and it comes out very easily. Remnants of the old nature seek to surface to tempt me. I believe fasting helps me to control my thoughts and actions. A
weekly one day fast is helpful for this problem. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die : but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live . Rom 8:13
v7 And this verse starts with a question. God's questions are trying to get
the hypocrites to see the real purpose of a fast. Fasting is often for others. The faster is fasting for the needs of others. During the fast you do not need to buy food for yourself. But buy some and give it away! I suggest giving food to the needy as a life principle. I learned it from Mal Rabern (died 2014) & Glenn Fogel while in the Tennessee Temple Schools in the 1960's. In Nov 1991 on the island of Crete I sought a secluded place where I could be alone to fast for 40 days and nights, drinking only water. I stayed near Lefkogia on PisoMoni Preveil Monastery land. I had agreed to speak in a church in Iraklio, about 75 kms. (50 miles) away for one meeting during the fast. That was my only scheduled event. Outside of that trip I did not want to see anybody during those 40 days. I was sleeping in a VW Passat station wagon. It was winter. The first morning a man came walking by about 7 AM. After seeing him 2 mornings or so I finally said hello. He stopped. He is Enzo from France. Many times Enzo stopped to talk. We drove together in the car more than once during the fast. He believed he had a demon, but since he was deep into yoga, and would not acknowledge the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, I did not try to deal with the demon. Enzo said he found peace when he sat in my car during the fast. Early in the fast came a woman to ask my help. She was living in a cave about 100 meters from me! She was living off the land. She said there were many living in the wild in this area and they are poor. We were on Greek Orthodox monastery land, PisoMoni Preveil Monastery. She had friends who have orange groves who offered her all the oranges she wanted. She did not have a car and because I did she came to me for help. I said I was on a 40 day and night fast and I did not want to see food. She begged me to help. I said I would pray about it and tomorrow I will give the answer. I read Is 58:7 "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry?" I understood that I must help this woman. I met those living in the area and it was for the furtherance of the gospel. Phil 1:12 Later when I went into Iraklion to speak I bought food in the market and took it to some of them. I found myself going to another city Rethimno, which is closer than Iraklion to buy for them. I went there also to buy for breaking the fast. I drove during my long fasts though I do not recommend it. I believe the long fast is for praying and not traveling around. J. Harold Smith kept active during his fasts. He did a 40 day fast drinking only water before he started in evangelism. Br. Smith kept up his evangelistic meetings and his radio ministry during his fasts. He said his best meetings were when he fasted from the time he got on the plane to go to the meeting until he got back on the plane to return home. The faster is also taking risks by driving while on a long fast. I remember an Israeli believer Yoram originally from Libya was staying at my house on the Mount of Olives. It was probably
1973. He was fasting and we just climbed Tel Beit Shean in the Jezreel Valley. It is a steep climb. We went from there to a gas station. He collapsed in the station. During the long fasts when I slept at the house of
Sotiris Karalis in Iraklio, Crete I often drove out of the city to be alone in the hills of Crete in vineyards and olive groves. Precious times never to be forgotten by Jehovah. There are joys unspeakable and full of glory to be had
in fasting fellowship with Christ. Fasting is a heavy price to pay, but the blessings are worth it. Fasting is one of the means that God has to accomplish His work on earth. 8 "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." Ps 34:8 Once God's grace, His presence and power is experienced, the believer has been charged-up and ready to serve.
I have noticed that some Christian missions that are involved in humanitarian efforts use the verses 7 to 11 as encouragement to distribute to the needy. That is what these verses teach. But I like to point out that these acts of compassion are a result of fasting done under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying you have to fast in order to give, but I am trying to keep tract of the context in which verses 7 to 11 were given.
"And that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?" Willie Mullan was from Ireland. I guess he was born in 1911, he died in 1980. Missionary Miss Olwen Jones (died 2011) from Wales knew him. I heard his testimony on a tape he made. He was the youngest of 17 children. By fifteen he was an alcoholic. He was his mother's favorite. Every night she lined up all the children and prayed for them. Each night she prayed Willie would be a preacher. When Willie was 16 or 17 she died. The father was already dead. Not one of the 15 boys or the one girl would take him in. He never slept in a house from that night on for 3 ½ years. It does get cold in the winter in North Ireland! He said he never saw the inside of a house for 3 ½ years. He was saved in his early 20's. Before he was saved a friend of his mother's let him stay in a house. His drinking buddies came to live with him there. They were thieves. When Willie got saved he asked all his drinking buddies to leave the house. They respectfully left. One of the buddies on the way out of the house said to Willie that he had made the right decision. Another testimony is from USA. There was a black youth living underneath a bridge in Jacksonville, FL. A white Christian saw him and took him into his house. He raised him and sent him to university. He was sent to theological training. I heard the black brother speak by way of a tape. He gave a wonderful message on Jesus Christ. He became a successful pastor. A Christian should have an open house. I recall during Bible school days in 1960's I was working and a man from work asked for money. I gave him some and soon he was back drunk! It was obvious he used the money to buy alcohol. We need Holy Spirit's guidance as to whom we should help and how much, and for how long.
"When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him". When fasting the hunger pains that many experience in this world are experienced by the faster. It helps the faster to better understand how a large portion of this world lives, going to bed hungry with hunger pains. A believer is to have compassion on others. I have been providing clothes for others for many years. During the 1990's I took many clothes to Romania. I went to Romania the summer of 2012 and I bought many new clothes & shoes in France for RO & UA. Sometimes I was given clothes in RO and in BG to distribute. For many years I have bought potatoes mainly from a Christian famer in RO and distributed them to Christians in RO. I distributed 1000 kilograms (2500 pounds) in summer of 2015. In several winters I distributed more than 1000 kgs.
"And that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh." The family of the Jew is found in Gn 29:14 ( Laban to Jacob) "Surely thou art my bone and my flesh." & Neh 5:5 where Jewish children were in bondage as slaves. We are all sons of Adam. A believer is not better than other believers or than non-believers. Philippians 2:4 "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." A Christian is to have a genuine concern for others even for his enemies. That is a Christian characteristic. Fast for the needy. Who is your neighbor? Lk 10:27-37 Verse 27
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
v8 "Then ( עז-az ) shall thy light break forth as the morning," This is the 1st promise. This follows the true fast and after the one who has fasted cares for the needy. The obedient Christian shines. I have slept many times in my car in the cold, sometimes in below freezing temperatures. I looked forward to the morning sun to warm me up. When the morning light breaks forth it is time to begin the day. I remember that sometimes Jesus arose before daylight. In Lk 1:35 we see Jesus up a great while before day to pray. The disciples followed Him. Shaving in the morning is difficult in freezing weather. An electric shaver will not work and the water is too cold. Once in Austria in the winter I was distributing tracts and I came to a building that was open. I found a rest room and there I was able to shave. Distributing tracts in cold weather is also difficult, especially for the hands. For a few years I flew from Paris, FR to Israel with Czech Air and it was permitted to stop in Prague for some days. I would stay 3 days in CZ. But when I did it on my way back to France that meant it would be in January and it was cold distributing tracts for my hands. I then started to visit CZ on my way to Israel in October.
Pbs 4:18 "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Matt 5:16 "Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works , and glorify your father which is in heaven." When a believer fasts, and afterwards he serves Christ, Christ works grace in his life. Heb 4:16 Let us shine for Jesus Christ. When others see our good works done by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they give glory to God, especially fellow believers in Christ. God reaches out to those for whom we fast. Our fast and prayer is a means by which God administers grace to others and to the faster.
"And thine health shall spring forth speedily." Here is the 2nd promise. I am convinced fasting is good for the health. It cleans out your body. One day is helpful, but more days are needed to clean it fully. As I write this sentence I have been 13 days and 14 nights without food, drinking only water. There is still a deep yellow in my urine. I assume by this that the body is still cleaning itself. There are toxic poisons stored by the body that need to be eliminated by the body. The body eliminates best when it does not have to digest food. I have heard from David Olsen that it takes 3 days of fasting to clean the blood. That is 72 hours without food. David lived some years in Israel having a fasting schedule of eating one day and fasting the next, and this was while he was working a job. He would fast 3 days a week. Fasting draws the believer closer to Christ. When we are close to Christ and we are serving Him, we are in His will, and we are blessed. K&D point out that in the origin of the word for health there is the idea of restoration. וארכתך-vearuchatcah The word is used in Jerem 8:22 "the health". God is ready to restore the backslider to spiritual health. Those in bad health can look to Christ for healing. In Hebrew Beit Haaracah is the name for Guest House. It is taken from the same word used in this verse for health. In modern Hebrew the word used here for health is used for a meal of food. God can through His love bring a man from darkness and lead him into light and thereby give him spiritual health. Drug addicts or alcoholics who come to Christ stop using drugs and stop excessive drinking or many stop drinking alcohol altogether. This is good for their health. Two years after I got saved I quit drinking alcohol and smoking. From the verb for spring forth comes the noun for plant. תצמח-titzmach - tzemachצמח There can be a speedy
restoration to health or there may be a gradual caring for and improving of one's health. All sickness in believers will not be healed. All believers must
die. Those believers left alive at the rapture of the body of Christ will be transformed into a heavenly body. They will be "caught up together" with the believers who have already died. 1 Thes 4:13-18 But faith in Jesus Christ gives hope, comfort, assurance, and can give healing. During a fast I pray for the sick. My list in April, 2016 was 8 & 1/2 typed pages long. I take their names off when they die. I believe our prayers for the sick will help them. God can give healing, He can give comfort and courage and grace. He can send help, and provide needed finances. The people of Israel in the wilderness wanderings mocking God asked: "can God furnish a table in the wilderness." Ps 78:19 God can provide what we need in all circumstances. The fasting prayer helps to obtain that which God is willing to give.
"And thy righteousness shall go before thee." The 3rd promise is now given. This is a result of conforming to the principles found in this chapter. You do not gain righteousness simply by doing what God asks. These Jews were following acts that Jehovah expected, but Jehovah rejected their religious exercises, not because He did not require them but because their heart attitude was wrong. Their body actions that were in conformance to accepted acts were rejected. Isaiah chapter 1 brings this out very clearly. The Jews were observing religious actions which Jehovah required, but all their services to Jehovah were rejected. He wanted none of their actions. See verses 1:12-15.
Your dedication, consecration and seriousness toward God and His work and ways will be seen. Matt 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Through the years 1988 to 2007 I have seen in Crete that the Greek Orthodox are deeply impressed when they realize a Christian is fasting. One said to me that I (me) hear from God during the fast and then I share what
He has given me to the people. For the good, for the grace and power and wisdom that the Holy Spirit produces in or lives, we must give the glory to Jesus Christ alone. God shares His glory with no man. Do not touch the glory of God. Is 42:8, Dan 4:30-37, 5:20. This phrase "And thy righteousness shall go before thee" I saw written in Hebrew on the walls of the synagogue at the large Jewish cemetery in Chernovtsy, UA. This cemetery is no longer normally used. I suspect what they were saying was that the good you have done will help you in the judgment. In the New Testament salvation is by faith not by works. A person is saved by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ not by his proper works of righteousness. The believer's righteous acts will be remembered in the Judgment Seat of Christ. 1 Cor 3:12-15,
"The glory of the LORD shall be thy reward." God's glory shall be upon
The one who fasts and it shall be the faster's protection. Christ will go before the faster and be behind. As in the wilderness wanderings when the cloud guided the Jews by day and the pillar of fire by night. (Ex 13:22, 14:19-20, Deut 1:33) In Isaiah 52:12 "For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward."
In Ex 33:18-23 Moses asks to see the glory of God. All Moses was
3swaa permitted to see was God's back parts. Moses after fasting 40 days & nights without food or water glowed. In Ex 24:18 Moses goes to the Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights. The time on Mount Sinai is picked up again in Ex 34:27-30. This is the 2nd time Moses fasted 40 days and nights. After the 40 day & night fast the skin of Moses' face shone. (vs. 29-30) Aaron & the people were afraid to come near to Moses. His face shone because Moses met face to face with God. God talked to Moses during the fast. Dear Christian friend, Christ is waiting for you to come to Him, and if you can, come to Him in fasting fellowship. When you come to Him, He will talk to you.
v9 "Then shalt thou call and the LORD will answer." The 4th promise is here found. What an encouragement to fasting, praying and an accompanying Biblical life style. In the 15 day & night fast of Sept.2006 I was praying for a digital projector for my Power Point Presentation. They cost about $1000. On the last 2 days of the fast $980 was given! God hears prayer offered in the name of His Son Jesus Christ. I got one for $900. Fasting will greatly enhance your prayers. How we need to strengthen our prayers. In Luke 17 Jesus taught on faith. "And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said if ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you." Lu 17:5-6 "Thou shalt cry)תשוע) - teshava, and he shall say, Here I am." What a privilege to be in such a close responsive relationship with the Almighty. For a moment meditate on the life style of Anna as described in Lk 2:36-38. She for many years "served God with fastings and prayers night and day." She had this life style for a long time, perhaps for 84 years, since she became a widow. When she saw the baby Jesus, The Lord's Christ, she recognized Him. Let us pray, let us fast, let us live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and in honesty and righteousness. For those who can fast, let us fast and be encouraged by the testimony of Anna. There are conditions that God honors. After she saw Jesus Christ "And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Lk 2:38 Being filled with the Holy Spirit will
lead to witnessing. Acts 4:29-31 The Holy spirit will lead believers those who are looking for redemption. These hypocritical Jews had wrong attitudes. God through the prophet is trying to point them out. "If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity." Fasting is designed to break every yoke, as written in v 6. The faster is in a very serious time and he should not speak vanities. Jesus Christ came to set men free through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." In Daniel 9 as Daniel began to fast for understanding of Jeremiah's discussion of 70 years for the desolations of Jerusalem, Daniel was first led to confess his sins and the sins of Israel. Dan 9:1-21 Fasting will help the faster to realize his sins and to confess them. Probably in 2009 I sensed I needed to go to Israel, but I was so busy I did not see how I could possibly take the time to go to Israel. For some weeks I would not surrender to God's will and call. On a regular Monday fast-prayer day in the midst of prayer I received the faith, the grace to submit to God's will. I said yes to His call to visit Israel. I had a blessed visit in Israel and I carried on with my ministry in East Europe just after. I wish to note Jesus' meeting & healing in Matt 15:29-39. The multitude was with Him 3 days and they had eaten nothing. Jesus had healed many and I imagine that he taught miraculously fed 4,000 men and there were women & children with them. Here is a fast because of a real interest in being with Jesus. During my summer camp in 2015 with Miouveni church I considered these days of meeting with no food. I asked the church leadership if they wanted a conference of 3 days with no food. They said yes. That was scheduled for Feb. 2016. It happened and God blessed those 3 days without food and they asked for 7 days in 2017.
The hypocritical Jews were pointing the finger at others in criticism, or mockery or superiority. Pbs 6:12-13 "A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. 13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;". Let us be careful what we say with our body expressions, our body language. Let us speak the truth I love not lies or vain things. We need to put a guard on our mouth (and mind, and body). It is even better to nip it in the bud by getting it in the thinking, before it comes out of the mouth or is expressed by the body.
v10 "And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry." The original meaning of the verb 'draw out' is to distribute. The verb for 'draw out' used with soul gives a sense of being bowed down. ( ותפק - vetahfeek ) The bowed down soul delivers to the hungry. The soul is bowed down because of proper fasting. In a proper fast as the body weakens the soul strengthens.
David said "My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness." Ps 109:24 I have experienced in long fasts my knees weaken and sometimes while walking my knees buckle. The fat disappears from my arms and when I rest my arm I feel the bone, or when I sit I feel the bone through my buttocks. The verb is found in Ps 140:8 in the sense used here, "Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further ( תפק – tefek ) not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah." 'Further' is the verb. Ps 35:13 has already been mentioned in explanation of v 3 showing that David humbled his soul with fasting. The believer living under the power of the Holy Spirit wants to give himself to a needy person in order to help him. Fasting will help you to have this compassion. Compassion is a fruit of the Spirit that will be evident after the fast. Fasting imparts power which is helpful in ministry and sanctification. When one is weak from fasting he is better able to have compassion on others who are in trouble and are suffering. Many people in this world go to bed hungry and the faster experiences the hunger pain, day & night. The verb is also found in Ps 144:13 "That our garners may be full, affording ( מפיקים – mefikim ) all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:". 'Affording' is the verb. The Christian who is faithful will have what to offer to others. In Acts 6 Peter & John at the entrance to the Temple had compassion on a lame man who was born lame. 6 "Then Peter said , Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk ." Fasting will help the believer to reach the state of spirituality he needs and there will also be grace to stay there. He that is of a contrite and humble spirit can minister to others. Is 57:15 The principal is to get spiritually right with God before going out to minister. I use fasting as a time to check my spiritual state. I confess my sins and I ask God to search me and know my heart, to try me and to know my thoughts. Is there some wicked way in me, and may God lead me in the way everlasting. Ps 139:23-24
"and satisfy the afflicted soul". The humble believer can bring satisfaction to the suffering. Though we may not be able to relieve the pain through healing, we can give comfort, courage and grace. I pray for the miraculous healing of sick people. We can pray for those to whom we minister, especially efficacious is praying for them while you are fasting. Then the ministering believer shall shine. "And they that be wise shall shine as the
brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Dan 12:3 I recall I think in 2002 visiting in Russe, BG Israelis who were in a serious car accident. A brother Juli from Russe, BG came with me. After the visit I asked if I could pray. They permitted
me to pray. I later visited them in Israel. One of the women who was there in the hospital said she remembered my visit and she believed the prayer helped. I saw Juli in 2015. The Hebrew word for 'afflicted' נענה - naanah is from the verb often used with fasting in the OT. ( ענה - anah ) It is found in Is 58:3, 5. The faster has the promise that obscure things will become clear. Darkness is caused by trouble in ones life but the faster has the promise that his darkness will become as the noonday. The noun here for noon-day ( כצהריים -ka tzohoraim ) is from the verb to shine. ( צהר - tzohar ) The noun as in this verse is literally double light, which is most splendid light. Mid-day is when there is the most light in the day.
v 11 The faster receives guidance from God continually. Ezra turned to fasting for guidance. Ezra 8:21-23 "So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us." (v 23) For many of my trips especially those into Eastern Europe I fasted seeking God's guidance as to where and when and for how long I should go to each place, and for His blessing on the work I would do. The faster's soul will be satisfied. The satisfaction experienced makes it worth the discomfort. The faster will find satisfaction in times of drought. In difficult times there will be encouragement. The faster looses weight, but the faster's bones shall be made fat. I do not know exactly what that means but it sure sounds good. As it was true in OT times I believe it is true in NT times. Perhaps it is literal and the bones are helped by fasting. And now the water flows to the garden. KJV has "watered garden". The word for 'watered' ( רוה - raveh ) is used in Ps 23:5, translated 'runneth over'. What a phrase! 'and thou shalt be as a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.' I think the year was 1965 probably January as the college semester was about to end with its examinations that I went 7 days and nights without food or water because of the immediate need of finances to pay my school bill. If I did not pay ahead of time I could not take the exams and I would lose the whole semester of study. I told Jesus Christ on Sunday night one week before the exams that I would not eat or drink until He gives me the money. From verse 11 I drank many times during the 7 day fast as the thirst was great, and my lips were cracked. I would read the verse often upon my knees and grace would be imparted and I was enabled to continue the day's activities. I wondered if my lips would heal. On the 7th day I taught Sunday school but could only speak for about 20 minutes as my throat was too dry. God did answer that fasting prayer for finances and then I broke the fast Sunday late afternoon or evening. Halleluiah! I was then permitted to take the exams. I never did that again and I never advised a Christian to try this. In most of my many
fasts I have prayed for the supply of finances. In the 8 day & night fast of Oct. 2015 it was so. At the time of this fast I needed teeth implants. I needed 7 implants and the bill for them was paid for, about $4000. Do you or someone you know or some organization have a financial need? Tell it to Jesus. Men as George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, WEC Mission, Rees Howells of Swansea Bible College in Wales, GB, & Cameron Thompson, trusted God alone to supply their needs. Cameron Thompson's widow Dell is still alive in 2015 and she carries on the work of distributing gospels, NTs & Bibles by faith to this present day. Cameron T. wrote Master Secrets of Prayer. I heard a WEC missionary speak in Romania in 2013 (?) and he said WEC still has the practice of not sharing financial needs. Fast for your needs and the needs of others. You may not have the money to help someone else but you can fast & pray for the need, and Christ may give you money to give toward the project, and He can lead others to support the project. A believer in Jesus Christ should be very, very careful about sharing a financial need to other believers or churches or organizations. It has been my practice since 1964 not to tell of my financial needs to anyone but God. I learned that from Operation Mobilization (OM) in 1964 and have never forgotten this teaching and have endeavored to practice it ever since. That is of Mar. 2016. On occasion I do as George Mueller did and I tell after God has supplied the need. He also did not share financial needs to others, even to the children in his orphanages. Also Hudson Taylor of China Inland Mission practiced the same principle. George Mueller sent donations to Hudson Taylor. I give the address on my prayer card where finances can be sent. On Nov. 29, 2011 I was in Tiberius, Israel and at the end of my regular weekly day fast I cried out to Christ for finances. That is on the next morning when I break fast. By 10 AM I was given $108 and found $162 in my room which I do not know where it came from.
" In that last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Holy Spirit…". Jn 7:37-39
This source will fail not. "spring of water whose waters fail not." The choice is yours and mine.
v 12 Grace will be given to the faster and he shall be able to rebuild the work of God which has fallen down. And those whom you train shall also rebuild. This can be the work of many generations. For many generations the gospel ministry has deteriorated. Also those who are properly trained will carry on the right work of God which will last for generations. I note the Protestant Reformation. Men like Calvin who left France for Switzerland, Zwingli in Switzerland 1484-1531, Martin Luther of Germany 1483-1546, Jan (John) Hus in CZ-Prague, excommunicated in 1410 by the Romaa Catholic Church and burned in Council of Constance in 1415, John Knox 1513-1572 in Scotland, Charles & John Wesley 1703-1791 in England turned many back to the Bible, freeing them from traditions which were not based on the Bible. John Knox met with Calvin. The Christian involved in repairing shall be called the repairer of the breech (פרץ גדר - goder peretz) and restorer ( משובב - meshoveiv ) of paths to dwell in. My Christian friend be a restorer. I was saved in 1960 and received my Christian education in the 1960's at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL and at Tennessee Temple Schools in Chattanooga, TN. I believe that training was good and it gave me a foundation upon which I could build my beliefs. Many Christians have strayed away from the fundamentals of the faith. They need prayer, teaching, a good example, and repentance. The repairer of the breach must live a good example, have a good testimony and pray & fast if his body permits for those in error. The foundation is Biblical principles and to these we must return, and remain true. ( עולם חרבות - charvot olam-'old waste places" ) Those are the works of God which have fallen from Biblical principles and these works need to be restored. One example is Replacement Theology. Israel has not been replaced by the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ does not replace the Jews. For a time the Jews have been set aside that Gentiles might come into the Family of God. God will keep His promises that He made to the Jews. "18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast , thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. " Rom 11:18 The 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ will come to this earth. Rev 20:1-7 He will reign in Jerusalem and the Jewish people according to their tribes will be in Israel with Him in peace and unity. Zach 14:16-17 See verse 14:11 for peace in Jerusalem. Ezekiel 48 gives the division of the land of Israel according to the tribes during the 1000 year reign of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). The prophecies of Israel's future glory will be fulfilled during the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ.
Revival from God will greatly help to rebuild the old waste places in our present time. Many revivals were preceded by fasting and praying. The foundations of many generations need to be raised-up, restored. Many Christians need to return to the true Biblical paths to dwell in. The religious Jews are following the precepts of men. Is 29:13-14, also Psalm 50:21. Many Christians are following traditions and not the Bible. How I need God's help to read the Bible. Reading & studying the Bible is helpful to bring on revival.
v 13 Isaiah is OT and the Sabbath was still in that context when Isaiah wrote. God blessed those who kept it holy. Those who were abusing it
needed to change. The exile to Babylon for 70 years was because the Sabbath was not observed by the Jews. 11 Chron 36:20-21 Jehovah called
for a 70 year expulsion of the Jews from their land so it could enjoy its Sabbaths. Lev 26:32-39 God intended that His Land would rest one day in a week with the Jews resting with the land. It was the day in the week when God's pleasure was kept not the believer's personal preference. The pressing need to work on the land was to be put aside for 1 day. Jehovah's thoughts were on the Land, as well as upon the people of the Land of Israel. If the Land rested then the people the Hebrews in the Land would also rest.
The distance they were allowed to walk was limited. In Ex 29:16 the Jews were told to stay at home for the Sabbath. In Acts 1:12 a Sabbath day's journey is mentioned. Even necessities were waivered for the sanctity of the day. No fires were permitted. Ex 35:3 I want to insert here God's concern for His Land Israel. In Joel 3:2, in some Bibles it is 4:2 as it is in the Hebrew text, God says He will gather all nations to the valley of Jehoshaphat (Jehovah judges) to judge them because of their treatment of His People and His Land. They scattered the Jews and divided up His Land. The Land of Israel is for the Jews only. This fact is true of all time, not only limited to the OT. The promise of the land grant was given before the Law was given. The Sabbath was to be a delight. ענג - oneg On Friday night as the evening service finishes the Jews have a fellowship called 'Oneg Sabbath'. The sin dealt with here in this verse is the wrong practices done on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was to be kept holy and to be honoured. (וכיבדתו – kibadto ) The KJV translates it by "and shalt honour him". It is not clear to me who the 'him' is. Sabbath is feminine, this is masculine. So it may refer to Jehovah rather than Shabbat which is the context here. God was to be honoured, and the Jew who honoured Jehovah also honoured the Sabbath. It would have been natural. Honoring the Sabbath was honoring God, if it was done in the right spirit. It was not a time for doing one's own ways or own pleasures nor speaking one's own words, nor doing ones business. It was God's holy day. This is a guiding principle for every moment of one's life. I have been troubled through all my years of fasting about the things I do on a fast day. I try to be careful about correspondence as email and letters and phone calls. There are times I must do things and there are times I am involved in evangelism. I tend to emphasize prayer over Bible reading in a fast, or evangelism. I seek the Holy Spirit's guidance for each fast. I sing songs from a hymn-book.
Fasting is for praying. The faster is to be careful about what he does and says during the fast. This teaching is also good for the whole lifetime of a believer, which I believe is the NT attitude and fulfillment. Every moment of a Christian's life is observed by God, and should be consecrated to Him. The life of the believer will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ. 11 Cor 5:9-10 May Jesus Christ's will for us become our will. Amen. Believers in Jesus Christ who live in a country where Sunday is a holiday I would
encourage them to go to church on Sunday. We should find joy in giving Jesus Christ one day of the week. And let us go further, give every day to Jesus Christ. May every day of the believer's life be consecrated to Jesus Christ. Amen. Believers are admonished to gather together. Heb 10:25 A believer is to be fully persuaded about his decisions. Rom 14:4-5, 14, 23
v 14 Obedience to the Holy Spirit's leading brings delight in the Lord. 'Delight' is from the verb 'oneg - ענג' seen in v 13. Full surrender brings joy. It will lead to trouble but the joy will be there. There are high places of fellowship and blessing that are given to those who wholly follow Christ. These are high places and the normal Christian does not reach such heights. One is transported by Christ Himself through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Christ will feed with Biblical truth those who follow Him. It is worth surrendering to have Christ's blessing. Fasting will help you to reach these high places, though fasting is not necessary in order to reach them. I am reminded of a testimony by Tom Williams who was my pastor in 1964. He was reading the Bible and was so blessed that he had to stop reading and take a walk. Ps 84:11 "For the Lord is a sun and a shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." Br. Tom said God gives light, here the sun, but also protects when it is too glorious with His shield. Here in the OT it is the heritage of Jacob, for those in the NT there is the heritage of Messiah Yshua. From Jacob came the 12 tribes. David came from Judah and so did Jesus Christ. And from the 12 tribes came the prophets then the OT was written. This was a great heritage. The Jews also wrote the NT. In the NT we have the heritage of Christ, and that heritage will take you all the way to heaven for eternity. Christians should be eating and drinking and living in high places. Have a taste of 1 Cor 2:9 "But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear head, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Psalm 34:8 This is riding upon the high places of the earth. In Eph 1:3 "heavenly places" are mentioned, these are the heavenlies. Col 3:1-2 These high places are a spiritual state of the soul. Isaiah 58 has shown us that fasting will get you to the higher places. Fasting will help you to enter into the courts of the Lord. Ps 84:1-2 "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul
longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." What a joy and privilege to be in His presence. Fasting is not the only way to have such blessings, but God has given us this lesson on fasting. During the fast not only are there precious times of fellowship with Christ and great pleasure in being with Christ, but there is great power to accomplish the work of God, especially through prayer. You will be able to break the yoke of sin, for the true fast breaks the yoke of sin. That is the message of v 6. Fasting is for restoring the old waste places. Fasting can help you to understand difficult verses in the Bible. Daniel was troubled by Jeremiah's 70 years. He fasted to get the understanding. Dan 9:2-4 See the understanding Daniel got in verses 24-27. In this study I have not dealt much with praying for the sick in body and mind. Fasting is an excellent time to pray for the sick. I have endeavored in all my fasts to pray for the sick. Fasting proves love. Do you love those who are bound by sin or mental strife, or those who are sick or those who have financial needs? Then fast for them if your body permits fasting. Fasting is to God, for fellowship with God and for people in need, and for needs in general. The chapter ends "for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." What more do you want or need to be convinced that fasting is for today and for you?
On May 15, 2012 in Saone, France I woke up in the morning thinking of where is the power of God, that is the power of God upon us. His power is in the Holy Spirit. To have the power of God you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:23-34 In verse 29 & 30 the persecuted believers asked for the visible manifestation of the power of God. In verse 31 they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and then they spoke the word of God with boldness. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and there was a necessity of another filling. I think the power comes from: first reading and studying and memorizing the Bible, second praying, third a consistent testimony with evangelism, fourth fasting which is helpful though not necessary. In the area of a consistent testimony I include Christian service. A believer must be ministering to others. The Christian needs the power of the Holy Spirit to minister especially in witnessing, but also in praying, and in teaching or preaching or sharing the Word of God. The power of the Holy Spirit helps in overcoming sin in a believer's life. The power can be gained by the first three, but I believe fasting will advance and facilitate the process of being filled with the Holy Spirit. I believe it was so in my life. Due to health reasons there are believers who can not fast. Jesus Christ understands that. Jesus Christ found fasting necessary and He taught on fasting when He lived on the earth. I wonder why He needed to fast? Perhaps because He was a man, a human being. He left us an example of what a man needed to do to approach God. If Jesus Christ needed to fast, I believe His followers need to fast as well, if they are physically able.
On my web site there is a teaching on fasting, and this message on Is 58. www.To-The-Jew-First.org
For fasting fellowship with Jesus Christ,
Michael David Bentley
Job 23:12 "...I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my
May, 2012 Athis-Mons, France and Dec. 2015 Tel Aviv, Israel, last updated April 2016.
CMC P.O. BOX 12964