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November 29, 2014

Isaiah 58 God wants true worship

Prophet Isaiah was given this message about fasting. Again this is not just for the people at that time, 2700 years ago. God is not talking about mere fasting either. Fasting was a way of life then when people followed a pattern and fixed rituals on the superficial form of fasting for festivals according to their tradition. many are still doing this today in many different religions.
Today, practicing Christians too follow a pattern of religious rituals and observances. But God talks of a different subject, worship. It means fasting and other similar rituals are parts of worship. Fasting is not a show of piety to God or to men. Because just as Jesus says, God sees the heart. God wants a true heart to worship Him in spirit and truth. (Matthew 6:14-19; John 4:23-24)
A heart that is true to God loves God and loves God's people. Jesus speaks of the same priority: Love God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength. Love our neighbors as ourselves. (Luke 10:27-37)
Jesus takes one step beyond that and commands this, "Love even your enemies." "You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate." (Luke 6:27-36)
The question is no longer who my neighbor is. God is not a parochial deity. He is the God. The only God. He loves all creatures created by Him. God went to the extent of giving His own Son Jesus to us. He gave the believers of Jesus the Holy Spirit.
A Spirit filled life witnesses God and gives glory to Him.
We are created to worship and give glory to Him. Worship is a lifestyle. Fasting is part of worship, springing from our hearts to love and worship God, to give us a spiritual clarity to see and hear God, to walk in the presence of God and share His goodness with others.
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Isaiah 58 New Living Translation (NLT)

True and False Worship

58 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
    Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins!
    Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
    and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
    that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
    pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
    ‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
    and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
    “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
    you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
    when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
    will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
    by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
    like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
    and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
    Do you really think this will please the Lord?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
    and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
    and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
    ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
    Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
    and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
    and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
    Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
    and a restorer of homes.
13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy.
    Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
    and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
    and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14 Then the Lord will be your delight.
    I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Footnotes:

  1. 58:1 Hebrew Jacob. See note on 14:1.
Jesus has proclaimed this change of spiritual focus starting from His coming to this earth 2000 years ago, filled with the Holy Spirit, walked by the Spirit, led by the Spirit as the Son of God, living a life of worship in spirit and in truth.
Luke 4:18-19, 21 New Living Translation (NLT)
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19     and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.[a]
21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

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