Isaiah 58 – Right and Wrong Fasting & Fasting

A person would think it would be easy to go without food or water for just 24 hours, but it’s not unless we do it with You.  Fasting without You is not only hard, but what’s the point because we don’t fast for us or others, but for You.

Weld-Blundell Prism
The Weld-Blundell Prism is the most extensive surviving list of the rulers of ancient Iraq for the period from 3200 – 1800 BC.

The prism contains an outlined history of the world written by a scribe named Nur-Ninsubur. He provides a list of the kings that reigned from the beginning of his race to the present time.

Among the kings listed are 10 kings with extraordinary long life spans, and they existed before the flood. Other kings listed on the tablet have decreased ages after the flood.

The Weld Prism discovery is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology because it confirms the Biblical account of longevity before the flood, and contains other similarities in its list of kings as well.

“And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died” Gen 5:27.

Just like when Peter walked on the water with Jesus, as long as we keep our mind on You we can do anything.

“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

But when he saw the wind boisterous he was afraid and beginning he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (Matt 14:28-30).

1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

“Voice like a Trumpet” – God’s powerful voice is compared to a trumpet blast at mount Sinai (Ex 19:19, 20:18-19).

2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

3  Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors.

“Fasted…fast” – a time of self-denial and repentance for sin.  After the fall of Jerusalem, the number of fast days increased.

“Takest no knowledge” – wondering why God doesn’t recognize their acts of penance (same attitude in Mal 3:14; cf. Lk 18:12).

“Exact all of your labors” – they are pretending to worship God and exploiting their workers all on the same day.

4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

“Voice to be heard on high” – hypocritical religious activity is a hindrance to prayer (Isa 59:1-2).

5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

“Bands of wickedness” – during the siege of Jerusalem, Hebrew slaves were rightly released only to be reclaimed by their masters.

7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

“Deal thy bread…bring…house…cover” – the outward evidence of genuine righteousness.  See Job 31:17-20; Eze 18:7, 16 and Jesus’ identification with the hungry and naked in Matt 25:35-36.

8  Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

“Here I am” – the Lord is quick to respond to a genuine cry of repentance and confession (you bet is He is).

10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

Moabite Stone
The Moabite Stone also known as the Mesha Stele is an interesting story. The Bible says in 2 Kgs 3:5 that Mesha the king of Moab stopped paying tribute to Israel and rebelled and fought against Israel and later he recorded this event. This record from Mesha has been discovered.

The Moabite Stone was discovered in 1868 about 20 miles east of the Dead Sea. What is most amazing is that it mentions “Israel,” “Yahweh” and the “House of David.” It is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris.


In the Bible it says that Mesha the king of Moab was paying tribute to Israel and that they suddenly stopped: “Mesha, king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel…” (2 Kgs 3:5).

Well, Mesha made his own record of this rebellion, and the record has been found. It is known today as “The Mesha Stele” or the more popular designation “The Moabite Stone.”

It was found in 1868 at Dibon, in Moab. Dibon is located 20 miles east of the Dead Sea. Amazingly enough it was discovered by chance by F.A. Klein, a German missionary who had heard rumors of this stone while visiting the area. It was a bluish basalt stone, about 4 feet high and 2 feet wide, and 14 inches thick, with an inscription from king Mesha. When it was found the Berlin Museum negotiated for it while the French Consulate at Jerusalem offered more money.

The next year some local Arabs, realizing all that was at stake, laboriously hoisted it out of the earth and lit a fire around it, and after pouring cold water on it they chipped away several large pieces which they distributed among a few of them. Later the French re-assembled 669 of the estimated 1100 consonants from the pieces and preserved the inscription. It now remains in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

11 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.

12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

13  If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Fasting

The meaning of fasting is somewhat misconstrued and somewhat misunderstood.  Before I get into it let me explain something.

I believe there are very few people that truly understand God and I don’t think anyone understands Him fully, I know I don’t.  But I think I know Him pretty well, I know His heart, I don’t understand it fully, but I know it.  I know how much He loves us.  I know how important we are to Him.

To get to know God you have to spend time with Him, the same way you get to know your friends.  God is no different and He doesn’t want to control us.  What He wants to do is give us a wonderful life, as He did with Moses (Ex 33:11), Abraham (Isa 41:8), among others.

For three years I did nothing but read the Bible, do Bible Studies, and talk to God.  But that is not how I know God the way I know Him.  You could memorize the Bible and you still wouldn’t know God, unless you spent time with Him.  Yet, you won’t know how to spend time with Him if you don’t read the Bible, meaning, don’t just read it, read it with Him.

You may say that God was friends with Moses and them because they did what He said.  That is incorrect, He had them do things for Him because they were friends, He trusted them.

God wants to be friends with everyone, that’s why He created us and James, Jesus’ brother, tells us exactly how to be friends with Him:

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you… (Jas 3:8).

About Fasting

You can find all kinds of reasons on the internet for fasting, but there is only one reason to fast and that is to be in the Spirit with God.  I have fasted one time in my entire life, of course I have only walked with God for six years.

I was in jail when I fasted, spending time with God and as I studied the Holy Ghost came upon me and I was told to fast, so I did.  But I never could have done it if I had not been in the presence of God.

People talk about full fasting, partial fasting, fasting for this or that.  There is only one fasting and that is without food and water for at least one day.  No one mentioned in the Bible fasted for less than three days; I only did it for one day.

Fasting is not torturing us to please God because that doesn’t please Him.  If God wants you to fast He will let you know or if you want to fast for Him then you tell Him that and He’ll make it happen for you.

But I tell you, going without food for a day but drinking water is not fasting for God.

I found the following statement online and it’s ridiculous.  I’m not degrading the person that said this, and I’ll explain this in a minute:

Bible Verses About Fasting

Both the Old Testament and New Testament teach the value of fasting, which is abstaining from food or drink in order to focus on prayer and seeking God’s will. Through many examples of people in the Bible who fasted, we can know that God grants supernatural revelation and wisdom through this practice. Scripture tells us that fasting will help us grow a more intimate relationship with Christ and will open our eyes to what He wants to teach us.

1 Corinthians 7:5
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

1 Samuel 7:7
“When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.”

2 Samuel 1:12
“They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”

Acts 13:2
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Wall Relief
In this wall relief the Assyrian king places his foot upon the neck of his enemy to symbolize complete submission and defeat of the captured king.

This discovery is important in the study of  Biblical Archaeology because it confirms the Biblical account to put the neck of an enemy under foot.

“So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks.” – Josh 10:24 


”The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” – Ps 110:1.

Acts 14:23
“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”

Daniel 10:3
“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.”

Esther 4:16 
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Exodus 34:28
“Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.”

Joel 2:12
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Luke 2:37
“And then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”

Luke 18:12 
“I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

Nehemiah 1:4 
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”

Psalm 69:10
“When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;

Psalm 35:13-14
“Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered,

I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother.”

Joel 2:12-13
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

Acts 13:3-4
“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus.”

Striding Lion of Babylon
The striding lion of Babylon was made of molded brick with polychrome glaze and appeared along the side of the ‘Processional Way’ in ancient Babylon in 604-562 B.C.

The ‘Processional Way’ led out of the city through the massive Ishtar Gate, the lion was the symbol of the goddess Ishtar. There were some 120 lions such as this one decorated along the walls. This painting is from a wall relief at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. It is 90.3 cm high and  230.5 cm wide. It was purchased in Berlin in 1931.

Neo Babylonian Empire. Under Nabopolassar, Babylon threw off Assyrian rule in 612 BC and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes and possibly erroneously called Chaldean) Empire.

With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, and his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC) made Babylon into one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat and the construction of the Ishtar Gate – the most spectacular of eight gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylon.

A reconstruction of The Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. All that was ever found of the Original Ishtar gate was the foundation and scattered bricks. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens did exist is a matter of dispute.

Although excavations by German archaeologist Robert Koldewey are thought to reveal its foundations, many historians disagree about the location, and some believe it may have been confused with gardens in the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. Chaldean rule did not last long and it is not clear if Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk were Chaldeans or native Babylonians, and the last ruler Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar were Assyrians from Harran.

“For I will rise up against them,” says the LORD of hosts, “And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity,” says the LORD. “I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says the LORD of hosts. Is 14:22-23.

Daniel 9:3-5
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,

We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.”

2 Samuel 12:15-17
“After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.

David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground.

The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.”

1 Kings 21:25-27
“(There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.

He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.”

Luke 4:2-4
“Where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.”

Ezra 8:21-23
“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.

I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”

Matthew 6:16-18
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

So that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Isaiah 58:3-7
“Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

Jonah 3:5-9
“The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.

But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.

Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

Luke 18:1-12

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.

And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,

Yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

We all have our own personal relationship with Jesus, if you don’t have one then any fasting you do you would be doing it for show, for mankind.  I would say this guy has a personal relationship with Jesus, but he lacks understanding of God.

God doesn’t want us to have to do anything to please Him. 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9).

Actually there is nothing we can do to please God but believe in Jesus.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:1, 6).

Fasting for any reason other than to spend time with God is not fasting. Would your mother be happy if you did something just to try and make points with her ?  No she wouldn’t and God loves you more than she does.

He never sinned so why did He fast?