Isaiah 58: 6-12 tells us the fast that God calls for from us.
We expect God to give us something for nothing. But the truth of the matter is that God already has given us something for nothing. He has given us life. If you’re reading this now, you should be praising God that you even have the ability to read it, the breath of life that you’ve been given is not your own, but it is a gift from the hand of God.
The Bible is full of stories of God doing great works for His covenant people. A common theme, that seems to be skimmed over as a secondary thought, is the sacrifice that each person had to offer of their own lives in order to receive the blessings that God gave them.
Noah, had to give up his life and start building a boat. He had only the Word of God to move on. He built, and we were saved. (Genesis 6-9)
The prophets all had to go against the grain of society, to tell the people that which they did not want to hear, in order to follow the command of God. They were unpopular, many of them died. (ex. Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Jonah)
Jesus had to give his life, against his own will (Matthew 26:36-56), in order that you and I might have the privilege to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which leads us into all truth (John 16:13), and therefore can lead us on a path to eternal life.
Daniel was saved from the mouth of a Lion by neglecting the law of the land that went against God’s word (Daniel 6). He was saved because of His obedience.
Yet somehow, today we’ve been given a “safer” gospel that says Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and therefore we can do whatever we want because “God has already forgiven me.”
If this were true, why would Jesus have so much to say about the need for repentance (Matthew 4:17)? If this were true, why would Jesus say that the pathway to heaven was a narrow road that most people would not take (Matthew 7: 13-14)? If this were true, why would Jesus say that not a single letter from the law would be removed until all things were accomplished, including Heaven and Earth passing away? (Matthew 5:18)
Jesus conquered the law through obedience to the Spirit (John 5:19, 12:49, 16:33, Matthew 26:39). Through belief in what God accomplished through Jesus, you have the free gift of salvation. This salvation comes through the same obedience to the Holy Spirit that Jesus lived. Anything less than this is short of the high calling of God and is a direct affront to the Kingdom of Heaven.
We’ve turned God into a genie. Heck I’VE turned God into my own personal genie. Expecting that if I do the right things, that God will suddenly give me all of the desires of my own heart. But the real salvation, is in obedience to the Spirit, who leads us to all truth, who causes us to sacrifice ourselves, take up our own cross, deny our own flesh, and do the full will of the Father.
The Holy Spirit leads us away from our carnal desires, to understand the reverence we should have for God and to bring about the salvation of our souls through turning us from carnal beings into becoming the holiness and righteousness of God through obedience to the Spirit of God. Leading our desires to become the desires of God.
Jesus showed this conflict in the garden of Gethsemane, moments before the final portion of his purpose would begin to be carried out:
This is perhaps the most human moment that we see of Jesus, one that all of us will hopefully come to understand in our own way. The things that God asks, are not simple, but they are important. They don’t always line up with our own desires, but they free others.
That’s really what the fast that Isaiah is talking about. Jesus exemplified this fast in the way that he walked & lived. He did it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Not of His own fruition, but in total obedience to the Spirit, He was able to access the power of God and live this fast.
How Can We Fast Like Jesus & Isaiah 58?
God is calling for all of us to fast this way. It is the only fast that He has really chosen. Not that other fasts aren’t potentially profitable for the Kingdom, but this is the only fast in the Bible that God actually says that He has chosen for us. So how can we do it?
When I first read this, and God asked for it, I had my own imaginations about what it meant, and in all honesty, I basically wrote it off as even being possible for me. But it can’t be true, because God doesn’t call for things that aren’t possible.
Here is an example of the excuses Satan tried to put in my mind when contemplating Isaiah 58’s fast:
- The first four fasting calls, I gave myself the excuse that I am but a single man, going up a system of oppressive burdens and wickedness that has been entrenched for generations. I felt powerless to do anything about it at all.
- Two of the next three, I can do. Share my food with the hungry, and clothe the naked. The third I said that I couldn’t do because I don’t have a home to do this with (yet, God’s already working on that).
- The last one, “to not hide myself from my own flesh” I actually had no clue what this meant at first. But, after prayer, I believe that it means to be honest with God about our faults, and not hide from the things that we need God to help us fix. He already sees it, stop trying to look past it and take it to God, who can fix it and will delight in the honesty of your relationship.
All of this made me super frustrated. The excuses that I tried to give myself about all of these things. Then, the Holy Spirit caused me to remember that Jesus had few possessions and he didn’t have a home (Matthew 8:20), he fed 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) with what would normally be barely enough to feed the twelve disciples. He also became the ultimate undoer of heavy burdens by taking them on himself (Matthew 8:17, Isaiah 53:5).
How did Jesus do these things? Through obedience to the Spirit, only doing and speaking that which He saw God doing (John 5:19, John 12:49). Jesus also said that we would do greater works than He did because He was going to the Father (John 14:12).
So then, all of my excuses are now gone. I believe in Jesus, and as stated above, this means that I will do greater works than He did as a result of His works. And the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me (Romans 8:11), and I am the same son of God, if I walk by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). There is no excuse for me only choice.
So then, in order to fulfill the only fast that God ever said that he has chosen (Isaiah 58:6), all I must do is do that which Jesus has already done, walk by the Spirit of God, in obedience to God the Father, and God will do these works through me.
Do you Have the Faith To Be Fully Obedient?
Our ability to follow the will of God, and to pursue the fast that God has chosen for us, is only as strong as our willingness to be fully obedient to God. Are you willing to give up everything if God asks you to do so and walk in obedience to God?
As we discussed in another article, many Christians would say emphatically yes. But as Jesus tells us in Luke, we must first consider the full cost.
What does it mean to be a Disciple of Christ? Clicking on that link will lead you to an article where we cover that in-depth. In order to understand the cost, a good place to start is understanding your purpose, the reason God gave you life, what God brought you here to do.
For myself and Lindsey, he called us completely away from the lives we were living, to fully focus on God, and to fulfill the plan that He has for our lives. It’s been both the most difficult thing we’ve ever done and the most amazingly rewarding thing we’ve ever done. To be honest, it’s been flat out scary at times, because God doesn’t ask easy things, but He always asks good things.
He has freed us from fears we didn’t even recognize we had. He has freed us from the worries of this world (well, most of the time, He’s still working with me on this one). I’ve been more challenged and flat out scared in these last three years than I have been in my entire life. But in facing these things with the power of the Holy Spirit, God has shown us that there really is nothing else in the world that we need other than God. Seriously, like nothing else is necessary – God takes care of it all, just as His Word says.
It hasn’t always looked like how we thought it would look or even how we’ve always wanted it to look. But it has ALWAYS been exactly what we need and then some. All glory to God in this.
A Call to Fasting & Prayer
I’d like to invite you to join us for this fasting and prayer over the next 40 days. Pray about if God has you ready for it, or if there is more work that God wants to do before He calls you to join us, it’s okay if you aren’t ready yet for it.
But for those of you who feel called to take the next step and plunge into this 40 day fast from Isaiah 58:6-12, we’d love to hear from you and pray for you as you come along with us. How do you do it? Simple, focus your every move on prayer and doing only that which the Holy Spirit calls you to do for the next 40 days.
We’re going to start this fast on Sunday, August 30, 2020 and the last day of this fast will be Friday October 9, 2020. Make sure to grab a fresh journal for your journey and journal every day.