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?Isaiah 58:6 (KJV)
Oppressed – When we fast, we often times ask God to perform some sort of action in our lives. We’re afflicting ourselves in attempted humility and beseeching our Creator’s help. But in Isaiah 58, God turns it around on us. Rather than doing what we ask, He asks us to do something else instead.
This is the kind of fast YHVH desires. He wants action from us – not just talk. It’s not about what we say, it’s about what we do. Is this what we’re thinking when we enter into a fast? Maybe it should be?
The word “oppressed” is the Hebrew word ( רְצוּצִים֙ ) coming from the verb ratsats which means “to crush.” The word here is “those who are crushed.” It’s the same word used when other nations oppressed Israel, and it’s also used to describe a struggle between people (Genesis 25:22). And so in God’s desired fast, we’re called to let these people who have been oppressed, crushed, and struggled with, go free. Remove their bondage… their yoke.
The reason He requests this of us is because we’re the ones who placed this yoke upon them. It was our ordinances that restricted their freedoms. We didn’t like what they did, or approve of their choices in life. They may be divorced, they may have a known sin among the church, they may not follow the strictness that we follow… and so we separate them. We place a burden upon them. Sit in the back of church. Don’t partake in our services. You cannot be a member of a particular church.
And God turns this around on us.
We go to Him in humility and He requires humility of us in the presence of those we don’t approve.
We ask Him to act on our behalf, and He requires us to act on His behalf with love toward the oppressed.
We ask Him for freedom and protection, and He requires us to free and protect the others.
So next time we prepare to fast in an effort to beseech the LORD, let us set goals that align with YHVH’s desired fasting practice. As soon as we turn our attention toward others, the fulfillment of a fast becomes much more pleasurable to God. Free the burden of the oppressed and remove the yoke we placed on them.