“SOUL FASTING” or “TRUE FASTING” (Part One continued) :
CONTINUING in Jeremiah 58 verses 6-7 (NIV).
 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 him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?
With the title, as The WORD Detective, I like to break down sentence structures in the Bible while I study and meditate on God’s Word for a perspective blog-POST. Verse 6 & 7 is but one example.
An infinitive verb is a verb with the word “to” in front of it (eg. “to loose”, “to set”, “to share”, etc.) showing action. (See Footnote [i])
In Verses 6 and 7, I learned through and by my investigation, the importance of TRUE FASTING and the desired outcomes of my actions. Yes, there should always be an outcome from FASTING!
My whole outlook into God’s desires has changed my point of view towards the practice of FASTING. Not of my desires, or the churches desires, or someone elses, but God’s desire through my fasting can and will be accomplished.
We cannot be saved by deeds of service without FAITH IN CHRIST; but our faith lacks sincerity if it does reach out in compassion.
The PURPOSE of Soul Fasting–
The FOUR INFINITIVE VERBS in Verses 6 & 7, all pertain to LIBERATION. God says He wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness, charity, justice, and generosity. FASTING should be more than what we don’t eat. It is obvious that this type of FAST is not a ritualistic one but for spiritual strength, bringing liberation to God’s people (the Church).
Have you ever felt “liberated” after you’ve fasted? The few times that I have fasted, LIBERATION never entered my mind. Counting the hours so I could end my fast was all that I desired.
THE FIRST DESIRE OR PURPOSE–
The first desire of “soul fasting,” which honors God, is to loosen the bonds of wickedness (“chains of injustice”); while in our FASTING, that God would open the wicked bonds that have been placed upon you or someone else or a congregation.
The SECOND CLAUSE, to “untie the cords” or undo the bonds of the yoke, indicates the people who are mutually beneficial to one another, are to FAST that this oppressive yoke of burden, misguidance or direction over us is broken.
God tells His people, “If you want to FAST the way that pleases Me, start getting right with your brothers and sisters that sit next to you, in front of you, and across the aisle from you every Sunday.” [“I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. And I don’t associate with people who do!”].
The NEXT CLAUSE, to let the oppressed go free while we are FASTING; to pray for those who are oppressed in whatever form (socially, culturally), will be set free to serve God.
The statement “break every yoke” pictures the complete destruction of the means of oppression. Those who are then freed by God can then spread the freedom to others.
The results of “soul fasting”, pursues and continues in VERSE 7—
Not only does it require God’s POWER to enact justice, it also enacts God’s POWER to enact FAVOR, BLESSING, BENEVOLENCE to those around us.
“NO NEGLECT HERE!”
God’s people were not to neglect each other. When someone shared with one in need, it was a reminder of everything one owned belonged to the LORD.
FASTING THAT CHANGES THE HEART:
“SOUL FASTING” changes the heart and make it compassionate.
“YOU” is singular. The statements in VERSE 7 are directed to each person, to each of us.
Notice that you are to DIVIDE YOUR BREAD with the hungry of the same food that you are eating. We must deny ourselves, that we may SHARE with that person that’s hungry.
Second, you and I are to provide lodging to those that do not have a house–provide shelter for the cast out poor, forced from his/her dwelling, turned out of house and home.
Third, we are to provide clothing for those who lack them. “OUR OWN FLESH” probably refers to close relatives (Gen. 37:27). God expects us to see the situation of our family and to take care of them.
My son once told my wife and I, that in our old age, if we can’t take care of ourselves, we could come and live at his house. Now I don’t know how our daughter-in-law feels about that proposed idea, but the compassion of family is there.
God’s people SHARE with those who lack the basic needs of life. Those who know in their own lives the compassionate blessing He brings, should in turn extend it to others.
These acts on behalf of others becomes the outward evidence of inward faith and righteousness (Job 31:17-20; Ezek. 18:7, 16). JESUS identified with the hungry and naked (Mt. 25:36).
“TRUE FASTING” is to be concerned with more than our physical and spiritual benefits. God wants us to go beyond concern of our own spiritual growth.
“SOUL FASTING” is more than NOT eating. It is the emptying of SELF in order to find what we need in Christ Jesus, in order to please God with word and deed.
THE PRECIOUS PROMISE, Verses 8-12:
VERSE 8 begins to set forth some BLESSINGS upon a life that becomes right with God:
“Then your LIGHT will break forth like the dawn, and your HEALING will quickly appear; then your RIGHTEOUSNESS will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard” (NIV).
God offers PRECIOUS PROMISES for those who FAST in TRUTH--“Soul Fast”. To be changed and have the situation changed to those in need of change.
God wants me to know that He will honor those who TRULY FAST in order to honor Him.
FOUR BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED–
LIGHT, HEALING, GUIDANCE and PROTECTION.
I don’t know about you, my desire is to have these four blessings in my life. It’s not a wish, but a PROMISE to us who observe the TRUE FAST.
The FIRST PROMISE of LIGHT that comes is when we are focusing our life on SELF, resulting in DARKNESS. Unless JESUS is the center of our interest, LIFE, in and of itself, is heading towards darkness.
The next BLESSING is…your recovery will speedily spring forth. This recovery indicates to us HEALING or RESTORATION when unconstrained speed of LIGHT is accentuated.
The peoples RIGHT BEHAVIOR causes the righteousness of God to protect and guide them on their way.
The Advance Guard and the Rear Guard is in Place–
As the advance guard and the rear guard provide protection, so the RIGHTEOUSNESS and the GLORY OF GOD (revealed in the manifested presence), will guard against whatever came against God’s people.
Thus, REPENTANT people are surrounded by divine protection.
If the people had inner RIGHTEOUSNESS (revealed in outward acts of justice and mercy, vv 6 & 7), then…the LORD would BLESS them (Deut. 28:1-14) with LIGHT, HEALING (spiritual restoration), RIGHTEOUSNESS (high standards), and PROTECTION from trouble.
OTHER CONDITIONAL PROMISES, Verse 9:
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I.
Under these conditions, the FAITHFUL BELIEVER could call upon God and expect answered prayer.
They had been trying to use God while at the same time, oppressing the weak and needy. God thus was holding back His response (the COMPLAINT of vv. 1-3).
Selfish Religious Activity…
Our “selfish religious activity” will certainly have a hindrance to our PRAYERS (59:1-2). God is ACTIVE for His people when they are ACTIVE for others.
Other Problematic Areas, (Verse 9 b.)–
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk.
The FIRST of the problematic concern is the need to remove the yoke.
Pointing a finger of accusation and blame at another or gossiping maliciously (speaking wickedness) about another is SINFUL and it pushes God away from the accuser–the one who is doing the “finger-pointing”.
Having a critical spirit towards others during my life has been a spiritual burden over the past years. All my “trying not to…” hasn’t worked. So when these feelings overcome me today; criticizing others and pointing a finger, I REPENT, letting the POWER OF JESUS who is inside of me, live through me.
The Conditions for the BLESSING to continue, Verse 12:
And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the DESIRE of the afflicted, then your LIGHT will standout in the darkness of your gloom as midday.
In verses 11 & 12, the BLESSINGS are continued: Our LORD promises GUIDANCE, SATISFACTION, STRENGTH, and REFRESHING (like a spring).
Oh, to be GUIDED continually by God through the decisions of life; to be SATISFIED when the world around us is on fire with thirst.
To be PLEASING and ATTRACTIVE like a well-watered garden to those around us.
To be FOUNTAINS OF JOY and COMFORT to the dry and weary soul around us.
All this and more for fulfilling certain conditions God gives us through the prophet.
And, there is even more, Verse 12.
RESTORATION and the REBUILDING of the RUINS OF MAN–
God promises to His compassionate people, that RUIN and DESTRUCTION can be overcome from His Blessed People.
Though the SIN of the fallen race eventually destroys everything it touches, God is greater than our sin. He gives us the POWER to restore and repair what has been ruined (friendships, family, new relationships, etc.). [See Footnote [ii]]. Oh, to be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets where people dwell. God will enable us to put back together that which was ruined and broken.
To Fast or Not to Fast?
I hope that you just might have a better understanding of the FASTING pleases God. The TRUE FAST, the “Soul Fast”. So ask yourself before you deny yourself food, and that is what the Hebrew word som means: “abstaining from food and drink in the ritual sphere of Israelite worship.” [See Footnote [iii]]. Remember, JESUS own “FASTING” in the wilderness prior to the beginning of His public ministry is noted in Matt. 4:2.
So the question isn’t “To fast, or not”, but what is the condition of our heart, mind and spirit (our souls) before, during, and after we FAST?
[ii] Oswalt, NIC, 507.
[iii] Expository Dictionary Of Bible Words.
All from Photo Pin.