“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6
Justice. God is a God of justice. Yet, why is there so much injustice in the world? If God is God, then why do we see evil all around us? Where is the sovereign God?
The sovereign God set up his kingdom in the world in the hearts of human beings. He longs for relationship with us. He created us for this very purpose. We can read in Colossians 1:15-16 that all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus. “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. “
Yet, what did Adam and Eve do with the life that God gave them? They turned from the Lord to obey the serpent the devil, when he lured them into his lies to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From this point on, all of creation fell into the bondage of corruption. Romans 8:18-25 tells us more about this phenomenon.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
We see- even in the creation itself- a conflict of good and evil. We see bondage. So many people are concerned about global warming, yet they often times overlook what the Bible says about creation groaning under the sin of the world. Even nature is bound up by the sin of man.
If creation is bound up, how much more are people bound up? People are given over to suffering, because the wages of sin is death. The sin of one person can be enacted on other human beings and it is certainly not God’s will! God calls on his people, the sons and daughters of God, to bring his peace, his power, his love and his justice on earth. We are the bearers of his light. When we are saved, we are saved by grace, but we are in debt to the love of God. We have a continual debt to love and do good to bring the light of Jesus in this world.
When we fast, we should seek what God’s heart is. His heart is that his people repent and that his people bring about his justice on the earth. Passage after passage in the scriptures talks about how much God hates injustice and unequal/dishonest scales.
Let’s see what God desires from us concerning this. This passage from Amos 5 is quite lengthy, but it really shows us God’s heart for justice and righteousness. This prophecy is about the Day of the Lord and why it is coming.
A Lament and Call to Repentance
Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
“Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel:
“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”
This is what the Lord says to Israel:
“Seek me and live;
do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
and Bethel will be reduced to nothing. a ”
Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.
He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.
There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
“Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god b —
which you made for yourselves.
Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.
I think one of the verses that really moves me in this chapter is the verse that says, “Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But, let justice roll down like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” The type of judgements that are coming with the Day of the Lord are not ones that a little worship set can move.
The Lord is tired of vain offerings. How is singing a worship song a vain offering, you may ask. It is vain, or useless, if there is no change in a person’s life or in the world around him or her because of repentance. How many people sing songs on Sunday, but are too proud to go forward and cry and repent over their sin? How many sing songs about obeying God and doing his work, only to turn a blind eye to those who are suffering? How many go home to watch pornographic content or read a racy romance novel filled with lust? How many people claim to be Christians and then tell racist jokes? It’s time to turn away from sin and to turn to God. It’s time to enact justice.
God wants a people who are eager to do what is right and who do it! You may say that is works-based salvation. No it is not. It is Ephesians 2:8-10, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God wants us, those who are saved, to do his work on this earth. We were created for it!
He wants justice to be done. He wants action taken. You see, if we don’t do God’s will to help the poor or to stand up for the oppressed, people will ask, “Where is this God? All the Christians are hypocrites.” I’ll tell you what. God wants to glorify his name through his body- the body of Jesus Christ. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. God wants us to do justice.
Not convinced? Let’s look at Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
So, today, with your fast- let’s ask the Lord for opportunities to have an Isaiah 58 fast.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6
When you are giving up food- is there anyone in need you can give financially to? Is there anyone who is lonely who needs a visitor? Is there anyone who is sick who needs prayer? Is there anyone who needs you to stand up for them? Is there anything unjust in your own life that you can ask the Lord to cleanse you from and to bring spiritual health to?
Let’s pray! If you pray for 2 minutes on each of these points, you will pray for 30 minutes! If you pray for 4 minutes on each of these points, you will pray for 1 hour!
- Our Father, who art in heaven, hollowed be thy name. (Spend time praising God for who he is. Lift up his name!)
- Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Build your kingdom, Oh Lord! Ask the Lord to build his kingdom in your life, in your marriage, in the lives of your family.
- Pray for our leaders and government. Jesus, the scriptures say that the government is on your shoulders. You are in authority above every other authority. I pray that you will bring godly men and women into office. I ask that you give wisdom and revelation to our president and others in office, in Jesus’ name.
- Give us our daily bread. (Spend time bringing your physical needs before the Lord.)
- Give me eyes for justice, Lord. Give me eyes to see where this world needs a Holy Spirit intervention. I am willing to help bring justice. I am willing to help stand in the gap for those who are hurting. I am willing to give, Lord. Teach me! Show me what needs to be done here. Give me opportunities to help others. Show me what I can do. Forgive me for overlooking your work here. Forgive me for times when I have lived a lazy Christianity, where I have just wanted it easy and I have ignored what you want to be done here.
- “Forgive me for my debts. Give me your Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to hear from you. I want to know what you see when you look at me. Show me if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Spend time on your knees. Find a posture of humility and pray and ask the Lord to search your heart. As he brings things to your heart, confess them to him. “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- I forgive those who have sinned against me. (Spend time quietly giving these private offenses to the Lord. Forgive out of obedience to the Lord. “Father, I forgive so and so for rejecting me in the name of Jesus.”)
- Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one. Spend time giving the Lord things that tempt you and struggles you are having. Stand against Satan’s attacks on your life, on your family, on your church, on your town, on your schools, on your state and on your nation. Here is a spiritual warfare template from day 2:
“Father, In Jesus’ name, I praise you because you are glorious. I praise you for Jesus Christ your Son, our Sovereign Lord.
I ask that you fill me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may know you and understand this battle that I am living in. Open the eyes of my heart so that I may see you and the hope that I have in you, in Jesus’ name. I need to know that I have hope in the battle, Lord. Right now I acknowledge that my battle is not against flesh and blood. I am not battling people in this world. I am not battling against my spouse or children. I am not battling against non-believers or family members. I am battling against spiritual rulers and authorities in my life. I am battling against things seen and unseen that raise themselves up against the knowledge of Christ Jesus.
I stand against lies and darkness that come against me in Jesus’ name. No weapon formed against me shall prosper, in Jesus’ name. I acknowledge the power of Jesus and I praise you that I am seated with him in heavenly realms above all rule and power and authority.
I know that in Christ and his resurrection power I am victorious. So, I stand in the armor of Jesus right now. I put on the helmet of salvation. I praise you for my salvation, in Jesus’ name. I thank you for your protection and that you protect my head, my life, my authority through Christ. I rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I stand firm in the truth of Christ. I buckle your belt of truth about my waist. I pray that your truth will secure my life. Defend me against the lies of Satan, in Jesus’ name. I know that I am vulnerable apart from you, Lord. I ask in Jesus’ name that you will reveal to me any lies that I am believing and allow me to walk in your truth.
Today, I thank you for the righteousness that is imputed to me in Christ Jesus. I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in that righteousness. I pray that the righteousness of Christ and the power of God to live a life of holiness will protect my heart. I put on that breastplate of righteousness. Teach me to submit to and obey your truth in the grace that God provides me, oh Lord, in Jesus’ power and holy name.
I also pray, in Jesus’ name, that you will ready my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Everywhere I go, oh Lord, may I be ready to bring your message of good news. Do not let me lose my footing in this area. May my feet truly be the beautiful feet that bring good news to those who are lost and need to find their way. Use me, oh Lord, to bring your salvation to the lives of those who are not in your family. Bring people into my life, in special moments, who need you. Ordain for me opportunities to minister the gospel of Jesus to them.
Father, fill me with faith, in Jesus’ name. I pray that your Spirit will ignite faith in me that I can fight against the devil and be protected from his diversions and lies. I take up your shield of faith, Father. Hide me in the shadow of your wing, oh Lord. Build up my inner spirit in faith. Minister faith to me and help my unbelief, in Jesus’ name!
Also, I take up your Holy Word, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I ask that daily I will be filled with your Word. I ask that the truth of your Word will work like a mighty weapon in my hands. Teach me to fight the enemy with your Word, oh Lord. Develop in me the spiritual gifts and abilities you want me to use in this battle, in Jesus’ name! Fill me with your Spirit’s power right now. None of this is possible in my flesh. I trust in your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen”
9. Pray for the Lord to ignite a movement of the Spirit in your life, in your family, in your church, in your community, in your nation. “Father, in Jesus name, breath into my life your power and your presence. I pray that you will strengthen my spirit with your Spirit. Pour it out, Lord! I surrender my life to you. I ask that you will do a new and fresh move of repentance in my life. I am tired of a powerless Christian life. I want to know you in a way that moves mountains. (Wait on the Lord. Worship him. Invite him to move.)
10. Increase my faith. I need more faith, Oh Lord. Give me what I need to trust you. Build me up in my inner being that Jesus can be in the middle of my life and heart by faith. Pour out your Spirit. I repent for unbelief and fear. Fill me, Oh Lord.
11. Lord, bring cleansing to this nation. Cleanse this nation.
12. Raise up the fathers. Turn their hearts back to their children. Turn the hearts of the parents back to the children. Lord, break the hearts of the fathers in this nation over their lack of leadership in the home. Raise up men to lead with strength and sacrifice. Raise up spiritual leaders in the home, Oh Lord. Our children need fathers who are godly. Lord God, start with the church.
13. Turn the hearts of the mothers back to their children. Remove the lies that being a mother is a lower job or something negative. Please set the place of motherhood back into a place of honor in our nation, Oh Lord. Fill the women of this nation with a fire in their hearts for prayer to build up their families. I stand against depression and anxiety that are plaguing so many women in this world. I pray Lord and rebuke the fear that is hanging over so many people. Deliver us from this evil, in Jesus’ name.
14. Rebuild the walls. Lord, build us up with repentance. Lord, build us up as we repent. Please strengthen our hearts. Build up the walls of protection around our hearts and families. Strengthen us with your Spirit and your righteousness. Heal us, Oh Lord.
15. Spend time worshipping the Lord. Ask him to speak to you and fill you with his knowledge and truth. Take time to be silent and listen.
Find someone to bless today who needs justice, who needs help, who needs love.