From January 7-27, Riverwood is doing a "21 Days of Fasting & Prayer" spiritual campaign. We are praying for Riverwood, our nation, our community, and for personal spiritual growth in 2018. To make our weekly blog a part of this spiritual journey, we are looking at Isaiah 58 and the topic of fasting.
If you missed the past three articles in this series, you can catch them here on the blog. Otherwise, let's conclude this series together as we look one more week at the spiritual discipline of fasting!
by Erin Bird
We made it! (Almost.) This Saturday marks the end of our 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer. I hope it has been a great journey for you. Honestly, I hope a part of it has been hard, but I also hope it has been rewarding as you have drawn closer to God.
(By the way, we are going to give you an opportunity this Sunday to share what you have experienced during these 21 days, sharing both the difficulties and rewards that have come through this spiritual journey. Be thinking about what God might want you to share during our open mic time at Sunday's Worship Gathering. Your words might encourage someone else and help them worship God AND your words will praise God and acknowledge His work through this fast.)
Today, I want to look at the topic of fasting one last time as we finish up Isaiah 58. Let's look at the last two verses.
If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,(Isaiah 58:13-14)
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
If you remember from my previous ponderings on Isaiah 58, the ancient people of Israel were fasting trying to get God to do certain things for them. But God corrected them, wanting their fast to humble them so they might be a blessing to others.
So as God has Isaiah wrap these thoughts up on fasting, God mentions the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day of worship where the people rested from their work. But in the first part of verse 13, God points out that some of them were working on the Sabbath, yet still trying to manipulate God through fasting.
God calls them back to a place of purity and whole devotion to Him - to "turn back their foot" from doing "pleasure" (business/work) on His holy day. Just like fasting was supposed to draw the heart of the people to God, the Sabbath was to do the same.
When we use things like the Sabbath or prayer or fasting to seek the Lord, we are worshipping Him. When we "take delight in the Lord," (verse 14) it brings delight to Him. Because, as John Piper is famous for saying, "we are most satisfied when God is most glorified in us."
And so God, through the prophet Isaiah, reminds the ancient Jews (as well as modern Jesus-followers) that spiritual disciplines like fasting or keeping the Sabbath aren't to be used to get things from God, but rather to draw our hearts toward God in worship.
So as we conclude our 21 days of fasting and seeking the Lord, may we worship and praise Him. And may we continue to worship Him, even after our fasting has come to an end.
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