About the Fast = Isaiah 58 – By Pastor Don Moore
Bible Study taught September 29, 2011 (near the feast of Rosh Hashanah)
God does things by seasons. At His assigned Holy Days, heaven is closer and more open. At the time of Rosh Hashanah is an appointed fast for the Jews, and Pastor Don spoke about fasting.
Regarding fasting – it is not just a fast from food. Sometimes a couple will fast from sex for a time for spiritual prayer. It can be a fast of a habit, of television, of Facebook and blogs.
Pastor Don says that we need to learn to live a fasted life all the time. We can even have a fast of words – so that we are not speaking negative words.
In the book of James it says that no man controls his tongue, it is like a rudder that steers a huge ship.
Fasting can help us develop willpower, self-control. There is no mention of willpower in the Scripture.
The ability of our will is how we are made in God’s image. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, that is what we call willpower.
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
The modern-day church shies away from pointing out transgression
Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God.
Notice the passage: as if they were a righteous nation, not forsaking the ordinances of God. God wants our obedience, not just lip-service.
Isaiah 58:3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers.
The people are assuming something. There is no fruit from their fasting. They assumed that if they fasted, God would give them the fruit of their labors, but their fast is not in accordance with what God wants. They are assuming that God did not see their fasting, and thus they have no blessing. But have they done what God told them to do? They afflicted their souls – ashes, sackcloth, dust, thirst, hunger, etc. They fasted but nothing happened. Something is wrong. If sickness, they assume there is sin, if no prosperity they assume sin. We assume if things are not going the way we expect that something is wrong.
In the American church, with all the freedom to preach and teach, there is still the same amount (if not more) of divorces in the church as in the secular world.
Verse three is a wake-up call. No power, no presence, no deliverance.
If you read Deuteronomy Chapters 28-30 you see the blessings and curses God promises the people. If one is keeping God’s commands the diseases of Egypt would not come on the people. Problem is, the people are not keeping God’s commands.
Even today, the power has left the Church in many instances.
Luke 18:11-14 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We believe that if we do right actions, God will answer us.
Leviticus 16:29 This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.
Leviticus 23:27 Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.
Pastor Don pointed out that the letter of the Law includes the heart of the law. At the Church the river is flowing. Did you get wet or just stand on the sidelines?
Jeremiah 14:12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
The Israelites were in captivity for seventy years when Jeremiah made this prophecy.
Fasting is the practice of self control and willpower. Paul pointed out that it didn’t matter what condition he was in – if he was prosperous or poor he would still live out God’s plan.
If tragedy strikes, don’t let that take your soul’s joy away. When Job suffered, he knew His Redeemer lives. Jesus is there for us.
Isaiah 58:4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness.You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.
God tells the Israelites not to fast as they are this day. Their fasting won’t force God to hear and answer their prayers. It isn’t about fasting to get something, to make your voice heard on high. A period of fasting and prayer should cause us to shut up and listen to what God wants to tell us. We are to listen to what the Spirit is saying, and seek to obey that. We will never find God’s will in our feelings.
Isaiah 58:5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
God is asking us to make sure that the way we are fasting is the way God chooses for us, not the way we think we ought to be fasting.
Isaiah 58:6 Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
This hits us really hard. It is counterproductive to fast to make God do the activity of help us with our idols. If we look to something or someone to do what God does, it is an idol. Are we looking for a beautiful woman, a trophy wife, a woman with a job, a woman to do for you what God wants to do for you, then it is an idol.
God tells us the why to fast, not the how-to. We are to be set free from the bonds of wickedness, but this does not tell us how it operates. It is a spiritual mystery.
Did Jesus fast? He was not bound by the things mentioned in Isaiah 58, so why did He fast? He did the 40 day fast in the wilderness after His baptism. He fasted and prayed often.
The Apostles did not fast when they had Jesus with them, but fasted after He ascended.
Jesus stayed in the perfect will of His Father and the Holy Spirit. While He was on earth He was man, and needed to pray and fast to stay built up to do His Father’s will.
Pastor Don asked us – When you are run down do you have the good sense to pray?
Prayer is focused talking to God. If you are not certain how to pray, pray in tongues and let the Father answer.
We should fast the same way. Be clear about why we are fasting. We can’t be fasting to manipulate God.. We fast because of what it says in Isaiah 58:6 (see above)
The purpose of the fast is for ministerial strength, to serve others by developing our own willpower and self-control, in the absence of fear.
The devil manipulates us by fear, doubt, and unbelief.
Esther 4:16 Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!
Esther fasted to loose the bonds and release her to deal with the attacks of the devil. It gave her strength to take bold action against the plans of satan and to save her people from perishing. Before she could approach the king, she needed to hear from God, to gain her self-control, willpower, and to hear what the Will of God was for her situation. She knew what to do and needed strength and determination to go do it.
In Mark 9, the father of a demonically possessed son approaches Jesus, and tells Him that the disciples were not able to cast out the demon that was in his son. To cast this particular devil out required a fasted person. When you don’t see the fruit of your spiritual life, people getting saved, the sick healed, demons cast out, people asking for prayers of deliverance, it may mean that we need to spend more time in fasting and prayer. God will send us people for us to minister to.
We work through the anointing. Jesus came to save those who were lost.
Mark 9:14-18 And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. 15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
Pastor Don worked on mental wards and have seen people with seizures where it was a demon-possession problem, not a physical issue. When a demon-possessed person is medicated it just slows down the vessel and the demon can’t act out as much. But when the medicine wears off the demon is there and active. It must be cast out. If the problem is medical (brain waves, etc) it means that the Holy Spirit can fix it.
Mark 9:19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”
The disciples did not have faith to heal this guy. Faith is not quantitative, but qualitative. it isn’t that we need more faith, we were all given a measure of faith, and it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. Many Christians pray for God to increase their faith, they don’t need more faith, they need faith for.
We can have faith for the healing of a headache but not have faith for the healing of a hip injury. As we apply our faith in situations, we build our faith for those circumstances, but we may not have faith for other circumstances. The more we practice faith, the easier it will be to apply faith in new circumstances.
When the disciples were in the boat asleep and the waves came, they cried out to Jesus and He remarked at their lack of faith, reminding them that He fed the 5,000, so if He could do that, and He told them He was crossing over the water, why would they not have faith that the wind and the sea would not destroy their boat?
The disciples had cast out demons in other people, for Jesus sent them out and they came back glowing with reports of their victories. But when they faced this epileptic demon, they did not maintain their faith. The demon trashed the child around and the disciples thought, oh, maybe we didn’t cast out the demon. And that was enough doubt for the demon to return to the child.
Mark 9:20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
The demon puts on a show for Jesus.
Now, remember, Jesus is a man, a spirit-filled man. He does not have the omniscience of God at this point, for He is man.
Mark 9:21-22 So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus speaks with the boy’s father to get information about the situation. Jesus needs the consent of the father to do the healing for the son.
Jesus is having a calm conversation while the devil is trying to distract Jesus with a show.
Unless the Holy Spirit directs us to cast out a demon, we are not to walk around casting out demons at random, we can make the person worse than before. If there is nothing done to fill the place vacated by the demon, he can come back and bring more demons to occupy the empty space.
The epilepsy demon is a bully spirit. If the child is under the age of accountability, the parents need to give their permission. If the child is of the age of accountability, he/she can ask for help.
Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Jesus is asking the father to move from unbelief to faith.
Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
The father prayed saying I believe, help my unbelief.
Mark 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”
Jesus acted quickly when He saw the people coming together. Demons want an audience, and with more people assembled, there would be a greater force of unbelief, and the atmosphere would e filled with unbelief.
When we heal or cast out demons we want a faith-filled atmosphere, or at least, if a person doesn’t have faith for healing, that they can be in neutral, suspending their unbelief. Most times when a demon is cast out it is done one-to-one, and not in front of a huge audience. It is better to control the circumstance and the situation.
Jesus commanded the demon to leave and not to enter the person again.
Mark 9:26-29 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
This kind of demon only came out by the prayer of faith and fasting.
Jesus lived a fasted life, so he had no fear, had self-control, and was plugged into the will of God.
Ask yourself, what do I have faith for? What don’t I have faith for?
Churches have faith for different areas, for example Baptists have strong salvation faith, Methodists have faith for missions, Presbyterians have faith for traditions, etc.
We all have strong faith for some things, weak faith for others.
The demon convulsed the boy, but Jesus did not panic, he just raised him up, no problem.
We need to have faith in the power and ability of the Lord.
How does faith come? Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
If we are struggling in sin in any sea and not getting anyone saved, go to God in fasting and prayer to gain strength and self-control in those areas. The enemy knows where we are compromised and those are the areas he will attack.
I am praying your day is blessed.
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