5/22/13 V. 6, The kind of fasting God wants is a fasting from selfishness. He wants us to be most concerned about setting people free from the bonds of injustice and wickedness and to work against oppression.
V. 7, He wants us to share our food with the hungry, provide the homeless poor with shelter, to give clothes to those in need of them, and the care for our families. This is true fasting, as far as God is concerned. Going without food is fine insofar as it goes, but that alone is worthless if our fasting from food is divorced from fasting from selfishness.
V. 8, If we will fast like this then spiritual light will fill our hearts and minds. We will recover and be healed from the terrible effects of sin in our lives. People will see our good deeds and we will become known for our love. And the Lord will protect us in all that we do.
V. 9, Also, when we fast from selfishness, God will answer us when we call to him. That means that the opposite is also true. If we do not fast from selfishness God will not answer when we call. But he will hear and answer and be close to us when we are intent on removing from around us oppression, gossip, accusations, and all manner of evil talk.
V. 10, If we spend ourselves in behalf of the hungry, both physically and spiritually hungry, and if we work to satisfy the souls of those oppressed and afflicted by wickedness, then the promise is that the darkness in us and around us will be driven away and will come bright as the noonday sun.
V. 11, Then God will continually guide us. This is one of the Bible’s answers to knowing the will of God. When we upgrade our spiritual lives to the point that we are willing to spend ourselves on behalf of others we are assured of God’s guidance. He will satisfy us even in the desert that is this world. He will give us the strength we need and we will flourish like a watered garden and a full spring flowing with the water of life.
V. 12, We will rebuild ancient ruins, old foundations, repairing breaches in the walls, and restoring the streets and houses of the city. All this seems metaphorical for rebuilding the lives of people, particularly in a spiritual sense. The ancient ways of God have been destroyed by neglect, warfare, and abuse, and we can participate in restoring what has been lost in sin.
V. 13, One of the primary ways we can do this is by honoring the holy Sabbath. God calls this “my holy day.” It’s the one day that he claims for himself. Even general cross references list the connection between this verse and Rev 1:10. The Lord’s Day is the Sabbath.
If we turn away from pursuing our own business, or own desires, our own words, and instead delight in the holiness and separateness of the Sabbath, we will learn what it means to fast from selfishness. The Sabbath is to be about learning to delight in focusing on others and God instead of focusing on ourselves.
V. 14, If we use the Sabbath to learn such fasting we will learn to fast that way all of the time. We will learn to delight in the Lord, which, unfortunately, isn’t the way of our sinful nature. But when we do learn to delight in the Lord he will bless us abundantly. We will ride on the heights of the earth (Rev 11:12), which is to say our lives will be everything we could have ever imagined and more (Rev 3:21, 5:10). God will care for us always. This is his promise.