THROUGH HIS PROPHET, God sent a message to the Israel of old that the modern spiritual Israel urgently needs to hear. Isaiah 58 is for you and for me because it puts the finger right where we need most to work on the experience of religion. Allow me to identify for you the aspects that seem most crucial in this chapter that is, in its entirety, a message for us today.
Fasting that pleases God has various fundamental aspects. The first is that we loosen the bonds of wickedness (verse 6). Wickedness is the lack of compassion and love for our neighbor, scorn, hostility, the lack of all Christian virtue. This is directly opposed to religion. The purpose of true fasting is to purify the motives of our lives, to come to God recognizing our dependence on Him and ask Him to make us live entirely in His service. The purpose of the fasting that pleases God is to have devotion pull the strings of our behavior.
The second is breaking every yoke (verse 6), with sin being the main yoke from which God wants to free us. Intolerance, physical or verbal mistreatment, the attitude of superiority, and telling others how to live their Christian lives according to our own criteria are yokes that we impose on our brothers and sisters. We must break those yokes with the help of the Lord.
The third is to share your bread with the hungry (verse 7). «True religion is practical. To be sure, it includes the rites and ceremonies of the church, but it is in the life lived before one’s fellows that the presence or absence of true religion is manifest. It is not so much a matter of abstaining from food as it is of sharing food with the hungry» (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p.306).
The fourth is not doing your own pleasure on His holy day (verse 13). This is because the very essence of sin is my selfishness, my desire to prevail always and in everything. However, what God wants from me is complete obedience, an attitude that leads me to say: «I will do what You direct me to do because I know that You, Lord, know better than I what is good for me. «Thank you, Lord, for having given us Isaiah 58. We need it today more than ever. Help me to live true religion in the light of that passage. Amen.
«Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins»(Isaiah 58:1)