Right Way, Wrong Way

Most of us could generate a lengthy list, with little imagination to fit the old aphorism, “There is no right way of doing a wrong thing.” Today, we’re going to look at the reverse of that pithy phrase because God gave an explicit warning about the wrong way to do the “right” thing. In the last three posts, we established through Scriptures that fasting is the right thing for Christians to do.

We are going to direct our attention to the longest passage about fasting. The prophet Isaiah shares an entire chapter about true fasting, found in the book of Isaiah, it is filled with contrasts describing what is pleasing to God and what is not.

Isaiah 58 
“Cry out loudly, don’t hold back!
Raise your voice like a ram’s horn.
Tell my people their transgression
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day
and delight to know my ways,
like a nation that does what is right
and does not abandon the justice of their God.
They ask me for righteous judgments;
they delight in the nearness of God.”

“Why have we fasted, but you have not seen?
We have denied ourselves, but you haven’t noticed!”

“Look, you do as you please on the day of your fast,
and oppress all your workers.
You fast with contention and strife
to strike viciously with your fist.
You cannot fast as you do today,
hoping to make your voice heard on high.
Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
Isn’t this the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him,
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will appear like the dawn,
and your recovery will come quickly.
Your righteousness will go before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.

At that time, when you call, the Lord will answer;
when you cry out, he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you get rid of the yoke among you,
the finger-pointing and malicious speaking,
10 and if you offer yourself to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted one,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
and your night will be like noonday.
11 The Lord will always lead you,
satisfy you in a parched land,
and strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden
and like a spring whose water never runs dry.
12 Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
you will restore the foundations laid long ago;
you will be called the repairer of broken walls,
the restorer of streets where people live.
13 “If you keep from desecrating the Sabbath,
from doing whatever you want on my holy day;
if you call the Sabbath a delight,
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
seeking your own pleasure, or talking business;
14 then you will delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride over the heights of the land,
and let you enjoy the heritage of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The Wrong Way
Verse two illustrates an insincere seeking to know God. The same hypocrisy is described in Isaiah 29:13 and quoted in part by Jesus in Mark 7:6. Verse three is Israel’s words to God. We get a glimpse of their arrogance and their motive seeps through. True humility does not make demands of God. He is all-wise and sovereign we are not. The first part of this chapter is a picture of their pious acts, that God finds detestable.

The Right Way
Beginning in verse six the text shifts to the right way to fast. As you read verses 6 through 8, we see the focus is on others through acts of justice, alleviating oppression, feeding the hungry, helping the poor and homeless, etc. The last portion, verses 9 to 14, tells of the standard of a true fast and the blessings that coincide with it when fasting is done in a way that brings honor to the Lord.

Dear Reader, I hope I’ve piqued your interest in Biblical fasting because there is much more to be excavated from Isaiah 58, I’ve mentioned only a few points here.

A Free Gift
The double-sided bookmark pictured here is a resource tool I created. One side lists the genres of Biblical literature. Learning about genres has transformed my understanding of Scripture. The Bible is a collection of sacred texts, called books, in one volume. There are 66 books yet, for most of my life, I naively approached studying the Bible as one singular book. The opposite side of the bookmark contains tips on how to study the Bible more effectively. This bookmark is a gift for all who want it. Click the button below to download a free printable, containing three bookmarks per page. The bookmark measures 2.875 x 11 inches (7.3 x 27.9 cm). To make them sturdier I had mine laminated, after cutting them apart.

Dear Father God, thank You for showing us Your precise expectations. You are holy, righteous, just, and full of mercy and grace. You deserve the best of everything we offer to You. Holy Spirit, help us to offer fasting and prayer that is pleasing and honorable. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Author Bio
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, grandmother, great-grandmother, foster care parent, and trauma survivor. I enjoy sipping tea, writing devotionals, prayers, short stories, and unburdening my heart to the Lord. Check the About page if you want to read more of my story.

Would you like to know more about the afterlife and how you can be assured of eternity in Heaven? Check the Questions page.

Check the Free Gifts page for downloadable/printable study guides and resources.

Copyright © 2020-2023 Musings of Manette Kay™ All rights reserved. Requests to the author and publisher, Manette Kay, for permission.

Arrows image by geralt from Pixabay

Published by musingsofmanettekay

Sharing bits of memoir in the format of devotionals, prayers, short stories, and occasionally a poem.

12 thoughts on “Right Way, Wrong Way

  1. Another excellent post on Biblical fasting Manette, thank you so much sister! The scripture you share is a Banquet of Godly instruction and warnjng; it will need some further deep reading/studying for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alan, it was hard to write this particular post because Isaiah 58 is a treasure house of information on fasting. I felt almost like I was doing a disservice to the passage. I could really spend so much time camped out on God’s words to Isaiah. I hope that many will do that in their private communion with our Heavenly Father. I appreciate your kind encouragement as I continue to share nuggets on this topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think there is only so much you or any of us can do in our blogs Manette; to use the well used analogy, we can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink. That is our purpose, to lead folk to His Well and even describe it to them, telling them how tasty it is, but it is up to that reader to taste it for themselves. You do a great job in your writing for Him sister!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aww, thank you. I love your beautiful reminder we can’t make others drink from the Living Water but we can tell, “them how tasty it is.” And if sprinkled with the “salt” of truth maybe they will become thirsty enough to desire it. May the wisdom of our Lord Jesus continually guide you, Alan.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this Manette. You truly are taking me on a journey to understand more about fasting. I am definitely going to be spending some time on Isaiah 58 to let more of what is in that chapter sink in.
    Blessings to you 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Manu, it thrills me to know that some are going to spend more time in this treasure house of riches. There was no way for me to cover it in one post. However, all who take time to marinate in this passage will gain the benefit of being taught and guided by the greatest teacher of all-time, Jehovah! His power and presence surpasses my mere observations. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thankyou Manette for that reminder on the depth of all God calls us to rather than just depriving ourselves and calling it a proper fast.
    I use laminate book marks as well as things that have meaning, like a prayer card or a post card from someone I am praying for. Sometimes a picture of someone or an image of a country ravaged by war or persecution. A hungry child. I change my context often in opening my Bible and prayer time and it helps get my focus off me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. AND THANX for the bookmarks! I am always looking for another one when I misplace the one in the book I am reading, and these will be used, not just as bookmarks, but as reminders in my Bible studies.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful! I want to offer anything and everything that the Lord has used to help me. Trusting it may be a blessing to someone else as well. May our gracious Lord sustain you through his hope and strength today.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “There is much more to be excavated from Isaiah 58.” An excellent word picture for this book of the Bible, Manette. Over the years Isaiah has become one of my favorite books to dig into as there are so many gems like this one on fasting to be found.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I often feel like the more I know leads me to understanding how little I know. Praise God, we get all eternity to plummet the depths and riches of learning to know HIM.


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