Isaiah 58:10, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as noonday.”
Isaiah 58 is always a challenging chapter for me. It’s terrifying to see that God’s people thought that they had an intimate relationship with Him….they sought the Lord daily and delighted to know His ways (58:2)……and yet, they were not in step with Him, their hearts were turned from Him…..
And what gives away the God-opposing state of their hearts? We see it expressed in the call of verses 6-12….essentially, they are unloving….they were giving up FOOD during their fasts but were not giving up THEMSELVES for the good of others–especially the oppressed among them. But the fast God calls for, the true fast, is the “fasting” of self, it is giving up me-centeredness, it is pouring the self out in order to satisfy the desires of others (v.10)….in other words–as with the entire OT law–the call here is “love.” Love gives itself unreservedly so that the beloved might know and enjoy (be satisfied in) God….and this is the “fasting” the people of God are called to carry out.
What struck me this morning, however, is that YHWH HIMSELF carries out the True Fast of Is.58:6-12 in the incarnate Son. He looses the bonds of wickedness and lets the oppressed go free and in His death breaks every yoke from His people’s neck (Is.58:6). Through His death He shares His bread–indeed, His very self–with the hungry and brings the homeless poor into the house of intra-trinitarian fellowship (Is.58:7,10; Psalm 5:7, 36:8, John 17:22-23). He takes on flesh so that we might be His brothers and sisters and He does not hide Himself from our suffering (Is.58:7). He pours Himself out for the hungry and by His God-communicating self-giving at the cross, satisfies the desire of the afflicted (Is.58:10). Therefore His light breaks forth like the dawn in His resurrection, and the gloom of His grave becomes as brilliant as the noonday sun (Is.58:8,10).
The people of God can obey the call of Isaiah 58:6-12 only because God Himself, in Christ, would walk this path before them… Reading these verses we ought to primarily see ourselves as the ones in need and the Lord as the one who gives…We are the oppressed who are freed by the gospel of His glory, we are the hungry whom He satisfies with Himself given for us, we are the homeless poor whom He invites into the home of His own joy, we are the naked whom He covers with the blood-washed robes of His own righteousness, we are his brothers and sisters from whose suffering He does not hide–Only because YHWH has loved us with this True Fasting, can we love others in the same way.
So, before we try to go out and do Isaiah 58…let us look to the heart of our God, to the incarnate Christ, to the crucified and risen one, where we see Isaiah 58 lived out for us…….and seeing the beauty of the Name of our God declared to us from these words, may we–by the enabling grace of His Spirit–go and do likewise.