I love how God sees the end from the beginning. It reminds me of those times when you receive an incredible word and promise (excitement) but then realise there is a process to walk through first. In these times it is good to keep our eyes on Him and on the promises.
What are the promises of Isaiah 58?
Your light shall break forth like the morning.
Your healing shall spring forth speedily.
Your righteousness shall go before you.
The Glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
You shall call and the Lord will answer.
You shall cry and He will say “Here I Am”.
Your light shall rise in darkness.
Your obscurity and gloom become like noonday.
The Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in dry places and make your bones strong.
You shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt.
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.
I know, right - where do we sign up? Imagine, our Father stood with all that in His hands waiting to lavish it all upon us and through us. So, what is the process? What will it take?
In the preceding verses we can hear The Father’s heart and desire. The footnotes in The Passion Translation say it like this:
Commit to banish every form of oppression in our lives, churches and society.
Remove scornful accusations (criticism) of others and their ministries.
Forbid to spread malicious slander.
Have compassion for the poor and disenfranchised.
Comfort those enduring suffering and tragedy.
Comfort, compassion, freedom and a wrath directed at everything that oppresses or enslaves His children. Isn’t this the Father’s heart on display? Aren’t all these wonderful and isn’t it interesting to note that in doing all these things we must not ‘hide’ ourselves from our own flesh and blood. So, is the fast required of us to simply go around doing good and watching our mouths?
Isaiah tells us, “They sought Him daily and delighted (externally) to know His ways and delighted to draw near to Him (in visible ways).”
So surely, if we change only our behaviour, doesn't that just replicate what the Israelites were doing, external seeking and trying to draw near to Him by visible means and keeping the law? Have you ever tried to change with self-will or by using your own strength? I have, it didn’t usually end well! I would be exhausted, fail, be disappointed in myself as well as God and constantly feel that I fell short of the mark, then jump/crawl/get back on the hamster wheel to try again. I didn’t have the capacity to love others with my own strength. Doesn’t love, compassion, comfort, pure speech and honour come from a heart joined to the Father, by the blood of the Son and yielded to His Holy Spirit?
Through the lens of a perfect Father rather than a taskmaster, not repetition of what has been handed down to us or what has been simply taught and repeated, the beginning of Isaiah 58 begins to look not as an admonishment but a key He is offering us so that we may know and have the fullness of salvation; the fullness of his fiery, passionate, burning heart and the power of his Holy Spirit to move in love and bring freedom to the captives, even and especially those in our families, and to bring a beautiful honouring and unity of the Spirit in His precious body.
Is this the fast He is calling us to - the process to be love on display? To have conjoined hearts with the Father, that the fullness of His love can be poured out on us, into us and through us to bring transformation to ourselves, our families, our churches, communities and our nation.
Through the lens of a perfect Father, it sounds like a longing and desire, calling us into the secret place, out of sight, leaving behind all our own well-intentioned desires and hunger to know His ways but rather that we may;
WORSHIP Him and
So that, in turn we may
BECOME more like Him and
MOVE ONLY from the union of our hearts.
So true fasting can be viewed not as an external way of moving God, but rather for the purpose of breaking the power of the flesh in our lives so that He can move us.
Let us seek Him and surrender to Him.
Let us consecrate our time and lives back to our first love.
Let Him satisfy our dry places.
Let Him make us like a watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Let His light arise in the darkness.
Let us be named Repairers of the Breach and Restorers of Streets to Dwell in.
As Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 (TPT) “The fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions; joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart and strength of Spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.
May they know us by His love