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…
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? Which? The contrast is seen in the inclusive words from the fourth to the ninth verses. God does not delight in outwardness. The mere mannerism of religion, or the head bowed as a bulrush, with sackcloth and ashes beneath, is hateful to the Most High.
I. FASTING IS TO BE REALLY RELIGIOUS. It is to "loose the bands of wickedness" - to free one's own soul from the last shackles of lust and selfishness, and to aid in liberating the souls of others. Religious effort is to deal directly with character, and not with the countenance; with the habits of evil, and not the ritual of ceremonies.
II. FASTING IS TO BE DEEPLY HUMAN. It is to care for our brethren in the world.
1. Many are heavily burdened. Care writes its lines on the anxious brow, and often the heart is grey while the hair is yet black.
2. Many are oppressed. Justice is the subject of bribery, and wealth lords it over poverty; moreover, slavery existed then, and has done till recent years, and the war against slavery has come from religious men.
3. Many are under varied yokes. Yokes of intemperance and pernicious habit - of selfishness in its worst forms of cruelty to others.
4. Many are helplessly poor. Not through crime, or faults of their own, such as indolence and inebriety, but through sudden calamities and severe illnesses. We must feed the hungry and cover the naked.
5. Many are neglected by their own. The workhouse has received to its dull shelter those connected with the well-to-do and the well-born; or "relatives" have never been inquired after, sympathized with, or succoured. "And that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh." These words in Isaiah teach us that the ancient Law was not simply legal and ceremonial, and outwardly sacrificial, but social, moral, and religious in the highest degree. Such Law Christ came not to destroy, but to fulfil. - W.M.S.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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?