Not a fast of the outward body as to . . .
. . . depress the body
. . . use sackloth and ashes.
. . . to impress others of my holiness
When this kind of fast is seen on the outside, it is purely from the heart and does not seek to draw attention. The instruction in verse one is to “cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” But unlike this sounds, this trumpet is not the sound of a voice but of a life. More influence than all the holy “professors” can have, the pure, humble life of Christian service cries out a rebuke to the hardhearted and sinful.
Instead of priding itself in seeing other people as worse than itself, this life finds its greatest joy in helping others find the joy that it has by . . .
-loosing the bands of wickedness
-undoing heavy burdens
-letting the oppressed go free
-breaking every yoke
-giving away its bread to the hungry
-bringing the poor to its house
-covering the naked
And through it all, the one who embraces this kind of fast will not cease to see his own life for what it really is—retched and broken were it not for the love of God.
Then, not as a little star in the sky, but as the light of morning breaks forth in every valley and hilltop, so will this life shine in pure rays upon this world. More than I can every hope to give to someone else, He promises to make me whole—in body, mind, and soul. And to try to tell someone how “good” I am would be pointless anyway, for this kind of righteousness shines far and wide and is not soon forgotten. When I cry, He will remind me that He is there—not that He is coming, but that He is and was and always will be there.
And the message is given in clear lines—not in speaking of and pointing out the faults of others, but in giving, feeding, and being a helping hand to break their yoke. This kind of life cannot be hidden. Though it may be in the darkest part of the earth, it shines only brighter.
Yet the final promise is most beautiful of all.
"And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." (Isaiah 58:11)
Not only does He give enough to satisfy my needs, but more than I can give away.