The True Fast of Isaiah 58


By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

Isaiah 58:6 [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Our preparation for the heavenly Canaan has been our theme for the last year which is rapidly coming to its conclusion. We have gained this meditation from the typology of the Hebrews travelling from Egypt to Canaan. Included in the typology is the sanctuary and its yearly service which was revealed that not only was the history of the Hebrews travelling a type of the plan of Gods salvation, but also the work of the sanctuary that they were called upon to build and enter into. At the end of the Hebrew year there was the Day of Atonement which was a type for the closing work of redemption and the ushering in of the millennium and heaven.

Thus in the ministration of the tabernacle, and of the temple that afterward took its place, the people were taught each day the great truths relative to Christ’s death and ministration, and once each year their minds were carried forward to the closing events of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, the final purification of the universe from sin and sinners. {PP 358.3}

The type was to be fulfilled in reality at the end of this worlds history in which we are living ever since 1844, the antitypical Day of Atonement. On that Day of Atonement in the Hebrew sanctuary the activities symbolising God’s children just prior to his second advent are depicted. The activities of the Hebrews on the Day of Atonement symbolise God’s children on the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 16:29 And [this] shall be a statute for ever unto you: [that] in the seventh month, on the tenth [day] of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, [whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:

16:30 For on that day shall [the priest] make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, [that] ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

16:31 It [shall be] a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

On this day, the Hebrews were to afflict their souls.

Every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward. All business was laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel spent the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart. {PP 355.4}

This was the activity that was symbolic for Gods people living since the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary commenced. To prepare for heaven a period of fasting is for us to understand. To transfer into the figurative day of fasting into a period of several generations from 1844 to the second advent does require some explanation. They were not to do any work or to eat that day. For several generations you can’t stop working or eating so what is the object lesson? What is the type depicting for us now? The Bible doesn’t leave us long to guess. Isaiah 58 will be identifiable for you as this will be the time of fasting. It will be the time for God’s people to restore the old paths including the Christian Sabbath.

The Specifics of the Fast

Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

Does that should like the Laodicean people? We are rich and increased with goods, we know the truth and we even fast.

58:3 Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

58:4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

58:6 [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

58:7 [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

58:8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

58:10 And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noon day:

58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

It is not just a day it is talking about. It is a whole period of time that God calls for people to engage correctly in the fast. Isaiah 58 is applicable to those who are restoring the sabbath.

The whole chapter is applicable to those who are living in this period of the earth’s history. Consider this chapter attentively; for it will be fulfilled (MS 36, 1897.) {4BC 1149.7}

Consider this chapter attentively because it applies to us.

Isaiah’s fast should be studied and close self-examination made with a spirit to discern whether there is in them the principles which God’s people are required to possess in order that they may receive the rich blessings promised. {3T 519.1}

We should study the fast of Isaiah 58 and closely exercise self-examination to discern whether there is in us the principles which Gods people are required to possess. The fast in order that all sin be cleansed from Gods people is what the typical service was all about. They had to examine themselves whether all their sins were taken away. There mere cessation of eating is not here addressed. There is a much deeper principle. The principle of not working is not the issue as it may appear on the surface. Consider Isaiah 22 where this day is once again identified, the day in which Jesus opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens. Jesus is making reference to this quote in the Philadelphian period which was just before 1844. The period of understanding the fast is mentioned.

Isaiah 22:12 And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:

22:13 And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

22:14 And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

The seriousness of Jesus entering into the most holy place and the lives of Gods people coming up in investigation in the investigative judgement is to occupy the minds of Gods people in this period of earth’s history.

We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. {GC 489.3}

It is a serious day of fasting. By fasting on one day and putting away food for that day, is a type of the true fast. On that one day as they did in the Day of Atonement, they denied their appetite. They put something away. This was a perfect item to illustrate the principle of putting something away.

The Daniel Fast of Three Weeks

What did he put away like Gods people have to put away since the generations of 1844?

Daniel 10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.

10:3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

For three whole weeks he still ate but he deprived himself of what? What did he put away? Pleasant bread, flesh, wine and anything that had to do with the anointing with oneself making himself refreshed in his bodily treatment where they might put on some anointing oil to make himself smell nice. To deny himself pleasant bread, wine and flesh, what principle is suggested here as you apply this in what we have been told to do. Self-examination of the principle of what God’s people are to possess during this time.

The true fasting which should be recommended to all, is abstinence from every stimulating kind of food, and the proper use of wholesome, simple food, which God has provided in abundance. Men need to think less about what they shall eat and drink, of temporal food, and much more in regard to the food from heaven, that will give tone and vitality to the whole religious experience. {CD 90.1}

To fast in Gods appointed way is to put away everything that we enjoy but is not necessary.  It can actually be deleterious but we enjoy it. No pleasant bread. Before we came to the health reform we enjoyed certain sweets and dishes that were made of sugar and milk which has a deleterious effect upon our health but it was sweet to our taste and we enjoyed it. To fast was to put it away and to replace it with delicious food that God has given for us to enjoy. Wholesome delicious food. To put away something that we found enjoyable but was not for my ultimate good while we partake of that which is only for my good. To put off that which we love yet heaven disapproves of. While partaking of that which the natural man repulses and yet heaven loves.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

To put off what my natural man loves and to put on what the natural man repulses is foolishness to me and I have to put that off. That is the fast.

The spirit of true fasting and prayer is the spirit which yields mind, heart, and will to God. {CD 189.2}

That is what is contained in the type. You can go on a day’s fast and miss the whole purpose of your fast because it is only a type. It actually is symbolic picture of what I must do as a person completely. The spirit of fasting to yield to abstain my mind, heart and will to God instead of holding and keeping it for myself. This is what God meant when he said is this the fast to put your head down like a bulrush and to make a show that you are fasting? Do you have to look all bedraggled as you’ve not been eating and drinking for a whole day and everyone says he is a wonderful Christian? This true spirit of fasting goes to the very core of redemption. The true spirit of fasting was to yield mind, heart and will to God.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [ye] double minded.

4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness.

4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Afflict, mourn and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning. You are to afflict your souls and you are to be in a state of sackcloth and ashes. It almost suggests that if you see it on its surface, I’m going to be a miserable bedraggled Christian for the rest of my life. I can’t enjoy myself anymore. What did Jesus pray? That my joy may be in themselves. This can’t mean that I can’t have joy. What is the gospel talking about? What is the fast? Is this the fasting that God is asking for to be miserable?

Isaiah 58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

That is what people saw on the surface that they had to do. Is this what God means? Is this what is meant there in James? To turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into heaviness?

We have everything to be thankful for. Never ought Christians to move along like a band of mourners in a funeral train. God does not require this of His followers. He does not ask them to spread sackcloth and ashes under them. “Is it such a fast that I have chosen?” He asks; “a day for a man to afflict his soul? God tells us what kind of fast He has chosen. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” This is the fast He wishes us to observe. [Isaiah 58:7 quoted.] In these words our duty is outlined. God shows us where we should place our treasures. As we follow in the path of self-denial and self sacrifice, helping the needy and suffering, we shall lay up treasure before the throne of God (MS 31, 1901). {4BC 1150.4}

To loose the bands of wickedness. You go out to the wicked world and they are laughing, they are being the centre of the party and making everyone laugh, laughing at smutty jokes. The yoke of sin that holds me in a condition of enjoying sinfulness. That has to be snapped. It is a replacement therapy fasting. It is a replacement therapy. Replacing the joy in sin with the joy of heaven. If we will turn joy and sin into mourning the Lord will lift us up into the joy of heaven. It is replacing the joy of self-gratification with the joy of unselfish release into the kingdom of heaven. It means dying to be raised to entire purity. That is fasting. It means sacrificing.

Reflect Upon Jesus

Pick up the true principle of fasting. Jesus was enjoying heaven. Did he have a right to that enjoyment? Absolutely, there was no sin in that. He enjoyed the adoring angels glorifying him but what did he do? He came and fasted.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus fasted of heaven. He fasted of the glory of a sinless pure life and he partook with us of our sin. Was that suffering? Was that a sacrifice? Why? So that you and I might be made the righteousness of God. Let this mind be in you. This is the fasting mind.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Now he is a man and what does he go on fasting?

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

What was he praying for? The joy in me may be in them. As he was going through this he was fasting from the joys of heaven, the glory of the adoring angels and he partook of us but deep inside there was joy as he was saving sinners like you and me to have us in eternity with him that was his joy but he fasted. He abstained from heaven to partake with sin so that he would redeem me from sin. He abstained from heaven so that I might abstain from sin to partake of heaven. He sacrificed the good to suffer the bad, the cross. So that we might sacrifice the bad in order to enjoy only the good. That is the fast. To sacrifice the bad so that I can enjoy only the good. When you think I have to give this and that up, it is a sacrifice, I have to give up all these things that i enjoy. Isn’t that the suggestion?

Do you feel that it is too great a sacrifice to yield all to Christ? Ask yourself the question, “What has Christ given for me?” The Son of God gave all–life and love and suffering–for our redemption. And can it be that we, the unworthy objects of so great love, will withhold our hearts from Him? Every moment of our lives we have been partakers of the blessings of His grace, and for this very reason we cannot fully realize the depths of ignorance and misery from which we have been saved. Can we look upon Him whom our sins have pierced, and yet be willing to do despite to all His love and sacrifice? In view of the infinite humiliation of the Lord of glory, shall we murmur because we can enter into life only through conflict and self-abasement? {SC 45.1}

The inquiry of many a proud heart is, “Why need I go in penitence and humiliation before I can have the assurance of my acceptance with God?” I point you to Christ. He was sinless, and, more than this, He was the Prince of heaven; but in man’s behalf He became sin for the race. “He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12. {SC 45.2}

But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. {SC 46.1}

That is what I give up. A sin polluted heart. I love the garish day of my sins, I didn’t like the consequences but I loved the pleasure of sin and that is what I’m giving up so that the consequences could be placed upon Christ. He gave up what he wants to give me to take what he wants me to give him.

And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it. {SC 46.1}

Ashamed to preach it. We are to be the people living in this anti-typical day of atonement to be part of the 144,000. What was written about them? They were without fault before the throne of God. Not only without fault by the justification of Jesus but by their life by being sanctified. Why are they without fault? Because they have entered into the true fast. They have yielded of what the fast of one day in the Hebrews period represented. To yield, to abstain from indulgence of sin. That which has ruled in my life I am to give up.

Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Can you see the fast? Give up one to receive the other.

Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.

We are to understand our fast at this time. Our natures are in need of fasting.

All who would perfect a Christian character must wear the yoke of Christ. If they would sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, they must learn of Him while on this earth. Our natures are in need of discipline. They must be conformed to the nature of Jesus Christ, that He may accomplish the good He designs to do for all who will submit to be molded by yielding their natures to His authority. The great Teacher will yoke up with every soul who will bear His yoke.– {UL 187.6}

The denial of self to bear the yolk for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest to your soul.

If I Would Be Prepared to Fast

If the human agent consents, God can and will so identify His will with all our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His Word, that when obeying His will, we are only carrying out the impulses of our minds. {UL 187.5}

That is where he wants to have us.

All such will not possess an unsanctified, selfish disposition, ready to carry out their own wills, but will have a jealous, earnest, determined zeal for the glory of God. They will not want to do anything in their own strength, and will guard strictly against the danger of promoting self. {UL 187.5}

In other words, my poor little self is starving because I’m fasting. Starve it right out as heaven is a selfless place. Let us go to and do that and we will be ready to be translated into the heavenly Canaan.

Amen.

Posted on October 16, 2010, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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