Fast for Freedom
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
~ Isaiah 58:6
In March 2010, myself, and eleven others from my church embarked on a mission trip to the world’s most notorious brothel district: the village of Sway Pak in Cambodia. This area is renown for its sale of young girls, even as young as five years old. A few years ago, some Christian organizations began working in Sway Pak to prevent such atrocities. Since they literally moved into the darkness to fight for the lives of the helpless who have no voice, things have begun to change.
We had the privilege of painting a building that was originally being built as a pedophile hotel but was never completed. Ratanak, the organization we represented, bought the unfinished building and made it into a church, school, housing and medical centre. We also painted a mural inside a former brothel a few doors away. Two years earlier, a group had come and knocked down the walls of the rape cubicles of this particular brothel, as well as the back entrance -- a door that was cemented shut to prevent the girls from escaping. To that group, knocking down those walls must have seemed like a tangible way to do the fast spoken of in today’s verse. As the light came flooding in to those prison cells, it must have felt like those sore, blistered hands had claimed victory and, on some level, broken every yoke and let the oppressed go free!
This is just what Jesus did when He hung on the cross. He was the Son of God who died to save our lives. He was the light of the world who obliterated our darkness. He was the ransom that bought our freedom. He was the one who was broken to break the bonds of wickedness. He carried our sin load and broke the heavy yokes.
These verses in Isaiah give tangible ways to “fast” in a manner that is pleasing to God. They are not what we usually equate with typical fasting. It is a fast of a much different sort. We are to loose the bonds of wickedness and undo the heavy burdens. We are directed to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke. The verses that follow today’s verse (see vs. 7-10 of Isaiah 58) note that such things as: feeding the hungry, bringing the homeless into your home, and giving clothes to those who have none, are practical “fast” fundamentals.
You may never break down the cement walls of a brothel, but there are many other barriers you can break down, seen or unseen, to help gain another’s freedom. You may never risk your life to save an imprisoned girl, but you can visit her in her “prison”. You may never feed five thousand in one sitting, but you can feed five thousand a meal at a time. You may never die for someone, but you can point him to the One who did.
Be blessed to know that you are close to the heart of God when you care for the “least of these.”