True Fasting (Isaiah 58)

Scripture Text:

Isaiah 58

(Click the Scripture text to open the text in a new window.)
1. Have you ever fasted? Why or why not? What benefits did you experience?

2. What is your first reaction to TV or news reports about homeless people? “They probably are just too lazy to work”? or “We ought to do something to help”? Why?

3. In what ways did God’s people seem to do the right thing (verses 1 – 3a)? How did they spoil it (verses 3b – 5)?

4. How did their view of fasting differ from God’s? If their fasting were sincere, what would be different about their relationships with others? Their concern for the poor?

5. What is the connection between religious exercises like this and a concern for justice (verse 13; see also Isaiah 56:1, 2)? How is personal  spiritual renewal related to seeking justice for the poor (verses 8 – 14)? Which do you think comes first? Although expressed in physical terms, what do these promises mean spiritually?

6. Note the relationship between the “yoke of oppression” and the “pointing finger” (verse 9). Where should God’s people be looking to discover and remove oppression?

7. In which religious activities do you find yourself just going through the motions?

  • reading the Bible?
  • attending worship services?
  • communion services?
  • prayer?
  • fasting?

8. (In reference to Question #7) How should these activities impact us individually and as a community? How are they affecting you now? What attitudes are needed for these activities to be acceptable to the Lord?

9. If we direct an attitude of self-denial (or fasting) toward social action, where will our “pointing finger” be likely be point first? Are you guilty of any forms of oppression to others at work, church or socially?

10. When should God’s people fast? When should we act? Would you be willing to fast from food and other forms of self-fulfillment for one day this week? How can you use that spiritual activity to help satisfy the needs of the oppressed and hungry?

11. Do you know any role models of this combination of piety and practical concern for others? How has their examples affected you? How could you imitate their example this week?

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