At This Point vs 9 Then
you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, Here I am.
If you fast in the manner that the Lord is asking you to do in this passage, it is then that He will do all of the above. He will raise you up in spirit, into His presence, equipping you for the life of a Christian, enabling you to walk according to His way and then you will call out to Him in prayer and all that you ask according to His good pleasure and will, He will perform it. This is His promise to those who will fast... He will hear you.
When God repeats its Time to listen
When the Lord wants to stress a point He repeats it again to establish how fundamentally important the message is that He is giving. It is like Pharaoh in Egypt when he dreamed a dream not once but twice. One time using corn stalk images, the other cattle images. The reason for twice: gen 41.32 And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. When considering this new way of fasting God repeats what He wants twice showing that 1/ He is establishing this and 2/ He will be bring it to pass shortly. It is we who need to learn to step into this new way of fasting now that He has spoken.
Here it is again: the if... then statement
What proceeds now from God are the conditional statements. It should come as no surprise that if we will not do those things that God asks of us then He will not move on our behalf. I would like to stress that this is not fasting and prayer but just fasting according to His will. It is then that He will move and pour His Spirit upon us and then when He has done this He will listen to our prayers.
I will also like you to remember that this message was given to those who were seeking Him daily, delighting to know His ways, thought they were righteous and delighted in approaching God. However, they were in fact not walking according to the truth.
you take away the yoke from your midst,
Here are the people of God who thought they were walking according to the truth and God says to them... take away the yoke that is in your midst. Set the captive free that is in your hand. As part of their fast they had to release those who were in bondage to serve them. For us today the same thing applies. How so? prov 22.7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender. He who controls the wealth holds power over the poor and the borrower. Though you have legal right to exact payment God's way is to forgive the debt that others can't pay. Another way, authority over others: bosses over employees, pastors over their congregations, husbands over wives, parents over children, to name a few. Ruling over them with harshness is a form of bondage. God is asking of you to take away the yoke of oppression that you have laid upon others.
A note in history is that when the Babylonian surrounded the city of Jerusalem the people were told to repent. They at this time fasted according to the Isaiah model and God did visit them. How so? They set all their slaves free and after doing so, through God's intervention, the invading army left the walls of the city and retreated. When the danger had passed the hearts of the people turned once again into the path of their previous ways and went and put all those who were slaves back into bondage again to serve them. Quickly the grace of God was lifted and the army returned and continued their siege of Jerusalem until it fell.
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
These very people who thought they were righteous were also very quick to point their finger at other peoples' mistakes and errors. It is one thing to see your brother and sister walking in sin and with love in your heart to go and talk to them privately hoping that they will repent. It is quite another thing to see a fault in another and point Him out and speak it out so others can hear and judge that individual. They spoke out not in love but in the wickedness of their hearts. They sought to punish not correct. To tear down and not to build. To ridicule not encourage. God says... STOP IT!
you extend your soul to the hungry
Look at the wording God uses here. He is asking as part of the fast that you not only feed the poor as an exercise of giving but that you also extend your soul to the person as well. Why? So that it does not become an empty exercise as the previous method of fasting had become. All the acts but not the heart. When the heart is absent in the performing of the fast abuses are not that far off from occurring. It is then only a matter of time before today's "righteous?" people are in the same place as those who are being addressed by Isaiah. If you won't extend your soul... you are not fasting according to God's way. Generally this goes for the other areas of help also: clothing the naked, providing shelter to the poor who are cast out and hiding yourself from family members and by extension, brothers and sisters in the faith.
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
With this God is asking as part of our fast that we satisfy the afflicted soul. He is asking you to become ministers of: God's peace, God's love, God's mercy, God's freedom, etc... How so? By cleaning your own hands of the deeds you are committing against others. 1/ Are you doing what is good for the individual under your spiritual care or are you trying instead to change him into your idea of what they should be as a Christian? 2/ Are you opening the door for them to flourish in ministry or are you trying to instil duty to get your own objectives accomplished? 3/ Are you using your power to set them free to move as the Spirit leads or are you binding them to your ways through co-ercion and / or exclusion? 4/ Are you giving them freedom to act or creating a puppet?
This also goes beyond the spiritual life into all areas of life. Over all, are your actions toward another person one of "One who sets the captive free" or are you a "Tyrant that brings into bondage". Tyrants do not satisfy the afflicted soul... they are the cause of it. As part of your fast set the captives free that are in your hand. Remember He is talking to those who make up verse 2. They can certainly proclaim their righteousness to everyone they meet but God says that they can know the truth of who they really are by their own fruits.
Here is something that I have observed. Tyranny begets tyranny. From the greater to the least... it becomes the way of life of a nation and eventually it's people. The result... the heavens become as brass and the Lord will not hear. The answer... Acknowledge the truth of your ways, repent and take on the fast. If you take on the fast and do as the Lord has spoken...
your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
It is the purpose of God to create you as a lamp that will be able to shed the light of God to all who enter your house. It is His Holy Spirit that will fill you with the oil of life, the oil of gladness. It is He who strikes the wick of your soul with the spark of divine fire. It is His breathe that will provide the flame with what it needs to burn brightly. If you will repent and become His lamp, a vessel for His acts, He will provide you with all you need so that your light will dawn in your darkness and your darkness shall become as the light of day at noontime. Whoever you are, whatever your condition, whatever your position, take on the fast of the Lord and He will do it.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
It is then that the Lord will hear your prayers for guidance and His Holy Spirit will guide you. You will receive the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. It is then that you will bear fruit. He will be by your side when you walk through the valleys and mountains of your life.
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
It is then, when the lean times come, when persecutions arise, when the spiritual plains are dry... that God will hear you and like He did for that prophet of old, He will bring you to the place of food and water to sustain you through the time of troubles.
It is then that whatever comes your way He will listen to your prayers and strengthen your bones so that you may do all that you need to do. To outrun a chariot, to tear down the high places, to stand as a warrior of God.
The result of this care
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
You shall be more than like a tree but as garden that brings forth its fruit in its season. The water of life who is the Spirit of Jesus will well up from within you and you will have life and life abundantly. All this for the hand of God will provide it.
29 November, 1999
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