Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah the son of Amoz which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Uzziah kings of Judah. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters fifty-five through sixty of this Old Testament book. EVERYONE THAT THIRSTETH COME TO THE WATERS! WHEREFORE DO YE SPEND MONEY ON WHAT IS NOT BREAD? SEEK THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND! CALL YE UPON HIM WHILE HE IS NEAR! FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS! NEITHER ARE YOIR WAYS MY WAYS! SO ARE MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOUR WAYS, AND MY THOUGHTS HIGHER THAN YOUR THOUGHTS! SO SHALL MY WORD BE THAT GOETH FORTH OUT OF MY MOUTH! IS SHALL NOT RETURN UNTO ME VOID! IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH THAT WHICH I PLEASE! THAT KEEPETH THE SABBATH FROM POLLUTING IT! KEEP MY SABBATHS AND CHOOSE THE THINGS THAT PLEASE ME! THE RIGHTEOUS PERISHETH! THR MERCIFUL ARE TAKEN AWAY! THUS SAITH THE HIGH AND LOFTY ONE THAT INHABITETH ETERNITY! I DWELL IN THE HIGH AND LOFTY PLACE! THEY SEEK ME DAILY, AND DELIGHT TO KNOW MY WAYS! IS IT SUCH A FAST I HAVE CHOSEN! IS NOT THIS THE FAST I HAVE CHOSEN! YOUR INIQUITIES HAVE SEPARATED BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR GOD! YOUR HANDS ARE DEFILED WITH BLOOD! WHEN THE ENEMY SHALL COME IN LIKE A FLOOD, THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD SHALL LIFT UP A STANDARD AGAINST HIM! ARISE, SHINE; FOR THY LIGHT IS COME! The language that is found in the beginning and opening of this particular section of Scripture is such that warrants a strong consideration within our hearts and souls, for as you read the words found in these chapters you will see how it begins with thirst, continues with seeking the LORD, and would ultimately progress even further to fasting—and not simply fasting, but the type of fasting which we think pleases the LORD, and the type of fasting which actually pleases Him. We dare not be too quick to transition from the words found in these chapters, for the very first thing we are confronted with is the matter of thirst—and not simply physical thirst such as what the children of Israel experienced in the wilderness after departing from the land of Egypt, but a deeper thirst which is of the soul. As you read the words found in this passage you will not only find the matter of thirst, but also a wonderful and tremendous invitation to explore that thirst, to embrace that thirst, and to encounter that thirst. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the invitation within this passage, for not only do we encounter the subject matter of thirst, but we also encounter something even greater than an invitation to come to the waters—namely, the invitation to acknowledge your thirst, to embrace the thirst within your heart and soul, and to fully and completely engage that thirst.
I sit here this afternoon and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that what we have in this passage of Scripture is not merely an acknowledgment of thirst, and not only an invitation to come to the waters, but an invitation to explore the thirst that is found within our hearts and souls. It would be incredibly easy to ignore that thirst which is present within us, and to somehow quickly dismiss it—particularly and especially since it is not a physical thirst that touches and impacts our physical body. In all reality, I am convinced that it is so much easier to dismiss the thirst that is present within our hearts and souls—perhaps not only because we have not learned to recognize and discern it, but because it does not affect and has not affected our physical being. If we are thirsty in the physical realm, and if our throats are parched, and if we desire and need something to drink—more often than not we will go to our refrigerator, or go to some other source that can provide us with something that can and will hopefully satisfy us. I can’t help but even consider certain slogans for popular beverages such as Sprite and Gatorade. If you have paid attention to the branding, the ads, and the commercials for each of these drink brands you will find that they both appear to the thirst that is present within our physical bodies. What’s more, is that not only do they appeal to the physical thirst within our bodies, but they actually profess to be that which quenches our thirst. If you look at the branding of the popular soft drink “Sprite” you will find their slogan to simply be “Obey your thirst,” while if you look at the branding for Gatorade you will find their slogan as being “Gatorade—the thirst quencher.” On the one hand we find one brand that invites us to obey our thirst, while on the other hand we find another brand that claims to be the thirst quencher. If I am being honest with you who are reading these words, I have to admit that I like the branding and ad for Sprite, for it doesn’t overtly profess to quench your thirst, but rather it invites you to explore and obey your thirst.
EXPLORE AND OBEY YOUR THIRST! I write the words which are found in this writing and I find myself coming face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that when we think about thirst in the spiritual and supernatural realm we must not only look at and examine it in terms of exploring our thirst, but also obeying our thirst. In all reality, I would dare say that one of the biggest reasons why we don’t obey our thirst is because we haven’t learned to discern its presence within our hearts and souls. Pause for a moment and consider whether or not you are fully and completely aware of the thirst that is present within your heart and soul. Right now as you read these words are you fully and completely aware of the thirst that is found within your heart and soul? Have you been able to discern the thirst that is found in your heart and within the depths of your soul? Would you recognize it if you heart was crying out for thirst in the midst of a dry and weary, in the midst of a dry and barren, and in the midst of a dry and thirsty land? Would you be able to discern the thirst within the depths of your soul if you were truly able to be aware of its present within you? I am fully and completely convinced that one of the underlying and predominate reasons we ignore the thirst that is found in the depths of our heart and soul is because we haven’t grown to discern its presence within us. Oh we are fully aware of physical thirst when it lays hold of us—whether we’re in the middle of an intense workout, or whether we’re playing some recreational sport, or whether it’s a hot and humid day outside, or whether we are doing some type of manual labor that requires a tremendous amount of strength. There would be very few if any who would be able to say they have never experienced thirst within the physical and natural realm. Even Scripture itself speaks of physical thirst—not only in the case of the children of Israel in the midst of the wilderness, but also even Christ as He hung upon the cross. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider each of these narratives, for on at least three separate occasions within the wilderness we find the children of Israel thirsting, while as Jesus hung on the cross we also find Him experiencing thirst. What’s more is I would dare say that during and after those forty days of being in the wilderness—not only was He hungry, but He was also thirsty. There is not a doubt in my mind that both in the wilderness after fasting forty days and forty nights Jesus was thirsty, while hanging upon the cross He most certainly experienced thirst. In order to truly understand this concept of thirst, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we first consider the physical thirst that is found in the narrative of the children of Israel, as well as the narrative of Jesus on the cross and in the wilderness:
“So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Mararh, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORd shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. And they came to Elim ,where were twelve wells of water, and three score and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters” (Exodus 15:22-27).
“And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeyed, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? They be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will and before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall water come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:1-7).
“Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kaddish; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation; and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chose with Moses, and spake, saying, Would that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? It is not place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribach; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and He was sanctified in them” (Numbers 20:6-13).
“He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. And they sinned yet more against Him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, He smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; Can he give bread also? Can He provide flesh for His people” (Psalm 78:15-20).
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:28-31).
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred” (Matthew 4:1-2).
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days He did eat nothing: and when they were ended, He afterward hungered” (Luke 4:1-2).
As you read the words which are found in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Numbers you will find that there were three distinct times when the children of Israel found themselves thirsting there in the midst of the wilderness. Almost as soon as they had witnessed the death and destruction of the Egyptian army with its horses, its chariots and riders in the waters of the Red Sea the children of Israel found themselves thirsty—and not only thirsty, but coming to a place where they thought they would be able to drink freely. It would be there in that place they thought they would be able to freely drink they initially found the waters of Marah to be bitter. What’s more, is that it was there in that place where the children of Israel not only experienced thirst, but they also experienced bitterness and offense against Moses and against the LORD, as they accused Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to allow them to die of thirst. The waters they initially came to were bitter, and so much so that they were unable to drink of the waters. It wasn’t until Moses cried out unto the LORD and the LORD showed him a tree which he was to cast into the waters that the waters became sweet, and the children were able to freely drink. The children of Israel not only experienced thirst there at the waters of Marah, but they also experienced bitterness as the waters they thought they could drink from would be able to be drank from. This is quite intriguing when you take the time to think about it, for not only did the children of Israel experience thirst there at Marah, but they also experienced the bitterness of something they thought would satisfy that thirst, only to find that it was deceiving and misleading. How truly wonderful it is, however, to think about and consider the fact that even though those waters were bitter and they were initially unable to drink from them, the LORD showed Moses a tree which he would cast into the waters that they might drink freely. After drinking from those waters, the children of Israel would continue traveling and would come to Elim where they would not only find twelve wells of water, but also seventy palm trees. It would be in that place of wells and palm trees the children of Israel would camp until the time came when they would be called to move forth from those waters. We dare not miss and lose sight of this reality, for this would be the first of three different times when the children of Israel would find themselves experiencing thirst in the wilderness—although the LORD would respond to this thirst by having Moses cast a tree into bitter waters that they be made sweet.
There would be two other distinct instances in the wilderness where the children of Israel would experience thirst in the wilderness—once before they came to Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai, and again after the LORD had declared they would wander in the wilderness for forty years. On both occasions that physical thirst which the children of Israel experienced within their physical bodies caused them to complain, to grumble and murmur against Moses and Aaron. On the first occasions we find the LORD instructing Moses to take the rod which he smote the waters of Egypt, and in the sight of the elders of Israel strike the rock. It would be upon Moses’ obedience to the voice and command of the living and eternal God that He would cause waters to gush forth out of the rock, and enough to satisfy the children of Israel, as well as their beasts with them. It’s actually quite intriguing to think about and consider the fact that this would be the second time in the narrative of the children of Israel in the wilderness we find them experiencing this physical thirst within themselves, and it would be this physical thirst that would cause them to not only complain, but also grumble and murmur against Moses and Aaron. Ultimately, however, their complaining would be against the LORD, and yet the LORD would provide for them water out of the rock that He might be sanctified and exalted among them in their midst. How truly wonderful it is to think about the fact that the children of Israel would experience physical thirst within their bodies, they would complain against the LORD in the hearing and sight of Moses, Moses would cry unto the LORD, and the LORD would instruct him to take his staff and strike the rock that water might come forth from the midst of it. It would be in the Old Testament book of Numbers we again find the children of Israel thirsting in the midst of the wilderness, and again complaining, grumbling and murmuring against Moses and Aaron. The LORD would instruct Moses to take his staff, however, instead of striking the rock as he had previously done, he was to speak to the rock. The narrative, however, goes on to reveal how instead of speaking to the rock that water might come forth, Moses strike the rock twice with his staff. The LORD still honored His word, and the LORD still honored his name, and caused waters to come gushing forth from the midst of the rock, however, because Moses and Aaron did not believe the LORD, and because they did not hallow and sanctify Him in the sight of the people the LORD declared they would not enter into, nor would they lead the children of Israel into the wilderness.
What we find in the narrative of the children of Israel in the wilderness are three distinct occurrences and occasions when they would find themselves thirsting—and not only thirsting, but also complaining, grumbling, and murmuring against Moses and Aaron as a direct result of that thirst. It is quite clear and quite obvious when reading the narrative of the children of Israel and their thirst that this was indeed a physical thirst—a thirst not for for spiritual drink, nor for spiritual water, but a true and genuine physical thirst. The children of Israel found themselves in a dry and weary land, and it would be in the midst of that land they would suffer thirst as they would experience a lack of water. It’s important for us to realize and recognize this, for what we find in the history of the children of Israel is a powerful example of physical thirst, and our acknowledgment of that thirst. As I sit here today thinking about the children of Israel being aware of their physical thirst, their acknowledging their physical thirst, and even their complaining unto Moses and Aaron because that thirst wasn’t met, I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that more often than not we are able to admit and acknowledge the physical thirst that is found within our bodies, and yet when it comes to the spiritual thirst within the depths of our soul and within the depths of our heart, we are completely ignorant and oblivious to it. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are countless men and women who are completely oblivious to the thirst that is found within their hearts and souls. What’s more, is I would dare say that there are many who have not been taught, nor have they been trained to recognize and discern that thirst. I am absolutely and completely convinced there are men and women who have never had anyone who was willing to expose and reveal the thirst that was present within their hearts and souls, and as a direct result of this lack of knowledge and understanding that thirst has gone unmet and unfulfilled. Because there has been no one who has taken the time to bring them into the place where they not only became aware of their thirst, but were also able to explore their thirst, they suppress that thirst and stuff it so deep far inside of them that that it almost seems to no longer have a place within their lives. Right now as I write the words found in this writing there are men and women who because they have never been taught and trained to recognize and explore the thirst in their hearts and souls, they have suppressed it—and not only suppressed it, but also spent a considerable amount of time living thirsty and not even recognizing they are thirsty.
Would it surprise you to think about the fact that you can live your live thirsty—thirsty within the depths of your heart and soul—and not even be aware of that thirst? Would it shock you to think about and consider the fact that you have been experiencing thirst within the very depths of your heart and soul within your life, and because you were never taught nor trained to recognize that thirst, it has gone unmet as you have abstained and refrained from coming unto the One who satisfies that thirst? I believe with everything inside me that there are men and women who cannot obey the thirst that is found within themselves because they were never trained to recognize and explore it. It is absolutely impossible to obey the thirst that is found within you if you have not been taught not trained to recognize and explore that thirst. In fact, in the New Testament you will find one specific individual who had this thirst within the very depths of their being, and because they weren’t aware of what that thirst truly was, they gave themselves to pursuing a number of other things they thought would satisfy them. The truth of the matter is that even if we aren’t aware of this thirst within our hearts and souls we are aware of this yearning, we are aware of this aching, we are aware of this desire, and we seek to fulfill it with whatever we think has the ability to actually satisfy it. We must understand that if and unless we are able to understand just what this thirst and desire is within our hearts and souls we can and will seek to gravitate to anything and everything that fulfills the strongest desire within ourselves. Pause for a moment and allow that to sink into the depths of your heart and mind, for if and until you are able to recognize this spiritual thirst within your heart and soul you will gravitate toward and will pursue that which seems to fulfill the strongest and greatest desire within you. Stop for a minute and think about what the greatest desire is within your life right now? What is that desire, and are you able to put a name—perhaps even a face—to it? If you were truly honest with yourself and with the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD right now at this very moment—what is the single greatest desire within your heart? What is the single greatest desire within your soul right now in this life? If you are truly honest with yourself you must admit that there is that one thing which you desire above everything else—that one thing you feel the most satisfaction from, and that thing you desire the most.
There is, however, an inherent danger in not understanding and recognizing this thirst within our hearts and our souls, for if we aren’t aware of its presence within us we will ultimately gravitate to that single and greatest desire within ourselves. What’s more, is that not only do we gravitate toward that desire, but we also turn and transform it into an idol within our lives. It is important for us to come to terms with and understand this reality, for our being unaware of the true thirst within our hearts and souls can and will cause us to pursue that which has the greatest pull within our lives, and take what we feel and believe fulfills that desire, and turn it into an idol. Would you find it strange to think about the fact that idols find their strength in either our being unaware of the spiritual thirst within our hearts and souls, or our being aware of this thirst and choosing to ignore it? The Spirit of the LORD showed Ezekiel those who had set up idols within their hearts, and when we speak about idolatry we must face the reality that idols are first and foremost set up within our hearts, and they are set up within our hearts when we choose to ignore or reject the true thirst that is found within ourselves. We cannot and must not miss this all important reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the awesome and incredible reality that idolatry has at the very heart and root of it an an subconscious ignorance or willful ignoring of the thirst that is found within our hearts and souls. Please do not think that I am somehow spinning my wheels when I speak of this particular truth, for I can wholeheartedly say from firsthand experience that not pursuing this spiritual thirst the way it was intended to work within us can indeed and can in fact cause us to pursue other things which were never meant to satisfy and which were never meant to satisfy us. Building upon this reality I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the second chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah in the thirteenth verse. The words which are found within this passage not only reveals a willful and deliberate ignoring of this thirst within our hearts and souls, but also our attempt to pursue and go after other things which cannot and will not satisfy us. If you read the words which the prophet Jeremiah spoke unto the children of Israel in the southern kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem you will find the following words: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Even later on in the seventeenth chapter of this same prophetic book you will find the following words found in the thirteenth verse: “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall e ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13).
In both of these verses we find the children of Israel committing one very grievous evil in the sight and presence of the LORD—namely, that they had forsaken the fountain of living waters. It’s important for us to recognize and understand these words, for they bring us face to face with the reality of thirst within our hearts and souls. This language would not even be used if there wasn’t a very real spiritual thirst within our hearts and souls, and that the living and eternal God is indeed and is in fact the only one who can satisfy that thirst and that longing within us. On two separate and distinct occasions we find the prophet Jeremiah speaking unto the people of Judah and Jerusalem and rebuking them for forsaking the fountain of living waters. What’s more, is that on both of these occasions we learn through the prophet Jeremiah—not only that the LORD of hosts is the fountain of living waters, but that only He can truly satisfy the inward longings and desires of our hearts. The more I think about and consider this reality, the more I can’t help but be drawn to the words which are found in the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms—not only in the eighty-fourth chapter, but also elsewhere in this poetic book. You cannot read the words which are found in this Old Testament book of prayers and worship without encountering those who not only recognized the thirst within their hearts and souls, but those who actually actively pursued it that they might satisfy it. The eighty-fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms is one of the most well-known passages concerning this longing, this desire, this passion, this thirst, and this yearning within ones heart and soul. Before we turn and direct our attention to two distinct narratives that are found in the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John we must recognize and consider the truths that are found within certain chapters within the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms. With that in mind I invite you to consider the following words which were written and recorded within this Old Testament poetic book:
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followers hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me” (Psalm 63:1-8).
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so patneth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: For I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why are thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:1-11).
“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: Give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:1-10).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to the words which are found within these three passages, for what we find within them is a direct link and almost an intrinsic connection between our soul and the thirst which is present within us. When we think and speak about this thirst which is present in ourselves we must recognize and understand that this thirst is found within the very depths of a place that is not and cannot be seen in the natural and physical realm. In at least two of these passages we find the psalmist speaking and emphatically declaring that their soul thirsted for the true and living God, while in another place the psalmist writes how their soul longed and even fainted for the courts of the LORD. These words must be carefully considered and understood, for when we speak about this thirst that is present within us we must discern the very source of this thirst within ourselves is our soul—and not merely our soul, but also the depths of our soul. Twice within these three chapters we find the psalmist emphatically declaring that their soul thirsted for God, while it would be David who would cry out that his soul thirsted for God, that his flesh longed for Him, and that both longed for Him in a dry and thirsty land, where no water was. It is quite clear and quite obvious that David clearly recognized and understood this thirst within the depths of his being, and understood that this thirst was found in the very depths of his soul. Moreover, the author of the forty-second chapter of the book of the Psalms wrote unto the sons of Korah that their soul panted after the LORD, and that their soul thirsted for God, and for the living God. Both David and the author of the forty-second Psalm recognized and understood this thirst—and not only the presence of the thirst within themselves, but also that this thirst was found in the depths of their soul, and that this thirst was for the living God. Oh it is a truly wonderful and joyous place in one’s life to recognize and become aware of this thirst, and to understand this thirst as being for the living God. What’s more, is it is absolutely wonderful to come face to face with the awesome reality that once we come to recognize and understand this thirst we are not only free to explore and obey it, but also to satisfy it with the only thing—or should I say the only One who can truly and indeed satisfy it. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the narrative which the apostle John wrote in the gospel concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—first in the fourth chapter, and second in the seventh chapter:
“When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And He must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whomsoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall e in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto Him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:1-26).
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of Him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him” (John 7:37-44).
The narrative that surrounds the Samaritan woman at the well must be carefully considered when having this conversation of thirst, for this woman undoubtedly came unto this same well at the same time of the day that she might draw water from the midst of it, and bring it back unto her home. What makes this particular day—and not only the day, but also the timing—so interesting, is that when you read it you get the sense that not only did Jesus need to pass through Samaria, and not only did Jesus need to come unto the city of Sychar, but He also needed to come unto this particular well at this particular time to encounter this woman. What makes this narrative so special is when you consider the fact that while it began with a conversation about physical water, it would transition to a conversation about spiritual thirst, of spiritual water, and ultimately worship. This narrative is focused on this Samaritan woman who came unto this well that she might draw water for herself to drink, and yet it was in this place of drawing and thirst you will find her having a conversation about her attempt to satisfy the thirst of her soul through various relationships. When Jesus spoke unto her and asked her to go and call her husband and return unto Him, she responded by declaring that she had no husband. To this Jesus declared that she was right in saying that she didn’t have a husband, for she had had five husbands, and the man whom she was now with was not her husband. Please don’t quickly glance over this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that this woman had this thirst within her soul, and while it was true she perhaps did not recognize what this thirst was, she attempted to satisfy it through that one thing that perhaps gave her the most pleasure and the most enjoyment. Undoubtedly this woman tried five different times to satisfy this thirst within the depths of her soul, and each of these five times failed, as she essentially went through five different husbands and five different marriages. Now here she was on her sixth relationship with a man who was not her husband—perhaps in an attempt to satisfy that longing within her soul. It would, however, be in the presence of the true Living Waters that this thirst would be exposed and revealed—and not only be exposed, but also directly linked and connected to worship.
When we speak about this conversation of thirst within the depths of our heart and soul we must understand that the thirst of our soul is most readily and most easily expressed within and through worship as we come and appear before the throne and in the presence of the living God. When we speak about this thirst within our souls we must come face to face with the fact that it is more often than not expressed the greatest way through worship in the presence of the living God. Try and try as we might to satisfy this thirst in a way other than and outside of worship in the presence of the living God, we find ourselves hewing out empty cisterns that cannot hold any water. The brand “Obey your thirst” can be directly applied to this reality of thirst within our hearts and souls, however, in order to obey the thirst that is found within us we must allow ourselves to truly understand and explore that thirst in the first place. We cannot obey a thirst we are either ignorant of, or seek to ignore altogether within our hearts and lives. This woman kept coming to the well—almost as similarly as she would come unto relationships that she might find something which she hoped would satisfy her. This woman would continually come unto this well and draw water to satisfy the physical thirst within her physical body, and in like manner she would continue coming to relationships and approaching them the say exact way. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this reality, for if you are willing to come to terms with this truth you will find yourself asking what you continue to gravitate to, and what you continue to pursue in an attempt to satisfy the innermost longings, desires and passions of your heart and soul. This woman undoubtedly pursued multiple relationships thinking and believing that they would provide her the satisfaction, the delight, and the pleasure she sought for within her heart and soul, and having tried five different times she found each of those attempts coming up short. Permit me to ask you how many times you have attempted to satisfy that longing within your heart and soul? How many times have you come to broken cisterns which cannot hold any water in an attempt to satisfy the thirst within your soul? How many attempts have you made to satisfy that desire—and not only how many attempts have you made, but how many attempts have you made and found yourself failing?
The Samaritan woman tried at five different marriages, with five different men, and was now trying a sixth time with a man who was not currently her husband. Perhaps she thought that this one would be different from the others, and perhaps she felt she finally knew what she wanted and needed. The truth of the matter is that through this encounter with Jesus she would not truly know and understand what she had been missing and what she needed until Jesus probed the very depths of her soul, and even the very depths of her relationships. Please pay attention to this reality, for this woman had made five distinct and five separate attempts to satisfy this longing within her heart and soul, and each time she found that what she thought would satisfy her fell drastically short. This reality must be at the forefront of our minds when and as we read the words in this passage, for not only must we acknowledge the thirst within our hearts and souls, but we must obey that thirst and do what is necessary to satisfy it. Through His servant Isaiah the son of Amoz the LORD called all who were thirsty to come unto the waters—and not only to come unto the waters, but to stop spending their money and buying those things which did not and would not satisfy them. I can’t help but get the strong and powerful sense that the living God is inviting a generation into this same place—the place where they not only come face to face with the thirst and desire that is found within their souls, and not only to come unto the living waters, but also to stop spending their money and resources on those things which haven’t satisfied, and those things which cannot satisfy. Tell me dearly beloved—are you sick and tired of wasting your time, wasting your energy, wasting your strength, wasting your thoughts, wasting your money on things which cannot and will not satisfy you? Are you tired of coming unto wells that not only have no water, but also hold no water? Are you tired of forsaking the living waters found in the LORD God of hosts and attempting to hew out for yourselves broken cisterns which can hold no water? Are you tired of allowing yourself to gravitate to those things which have the greatest pull within your heart and soul thinking they might finally be able to satisfy you? There must come a point in time when we encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth that anything within our heart and life we pursue and go after thinking it can satisfy the longing, the thirst and desire within our hearts and soul is not only futile, but might also very well open the door for idolatry as we allow idols to be set up within our hearts which cannot at all satisfy or fulfill that intense thirst within us.
It’s quite interesting and unique to think about and consider how Jesus seemed to have connected this thirst to worship, while in the fifty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah we find the prophet beginning and opening up with an invitation to explore this thirst within our hearts and souls with coming after, seeking and pursuing the LORD. What’s more, is that as you continue reading the words found in the fifty-fifth chapter you will find the prophet inviting all those who are thirsty to come to the waters—and not only those who are thirsty coming to the waters, but also those who have no money coming to buy and to eat. This invitation to buy and to eat was to buy wine and milk without money and without price. At the same time there was an invitation to the thirst to come and to drink, and to those who have no money to come and to eat, there is also a tremendous question that was not only meant to convict, but was also meant to bring the people of God into a place where they examined their lives and all their meaningless and vain pursuits. The prophet Isaiah asked the people of Jerusalem and Judah why they chose to spend their money for that which is not bread, and labour for that which did not satisfy. The underlying theme and concept here is that what they had been pursuing and what they had been going after provided absolutely no satisfaction and no sustenance for them. Oh, try and try as they may to find satisfaction in those things which could offer nothing unto them they would find themselves being largely disappointed with their vain pursuits. The prophet very openly and very blatantly declares unto them that they had spent their time pursuing that which was not bread and laboured for that which did not satisfy them—did not satisfy their deepest longings and their deepest desires. We dare not miss and lose sight of this, for the prophet would further invite the people of God to hearken diligently unto the LORD, and to eat that which was good, to let their soul delight itself in fatness. Once more we find the direct connection between this thirst and the soul—and not only this direct link and connection between the soul and thirst that is within us, but also an invitation to delight. Permit me to ask you a very pointed and powerful question right now—namely, whether or not you are truly satisfied with the living and eternal God. Are you completely and utterly satisfied with the LORD your God, and is He providing you with absolutely everything your heart and soul needs? This is a question which we must come to terms with, for one of the greatest questions you will ever ask yourself—and not only ask yourself, but also answer—is whether or not you have been completely satisfied with the LORD.
Are you completely and totally satisfied with the LORD? Does the LORD satisfy and fulfill your every longing, your ever desire, your every affection, your every pursuit? Does the LORD satisfy thin inner longings deep within the depths of your heart and soul, or have you managed to find that satisfaction in other people, in other things, and in a host of other things that were never meant to be satisfied? We must recognize and understand that either we are satisfied with the LORD, or we are not. There is no middle ground and there is no grey area, for the truth of the matter is that it is black or white. It is with this in mind that you will continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and will find another invitation that is directly linked and connected to the first invitation. It’s almost as if the invitation that is found in the opening three verses of this chapter are sort of a vague and general invitation, while that which you find in the sixth and seventh verses shine a spotlight on what coming to the waters, and what coming to buy and eat truly means, and what it truly looks like. As you continue reading the words which are found in these chapters you will find the prophet Isaiah inviting the people of Judah and Jerusalem to seek the LORD while He might be found and to call upon Him while He is near. Pause right there for a moment and think about the absolutely astounding and remarkable invitation hat was given by the prophet Isaiah to those who had just heard the invitation to come to the waters, and the invitation to come buy and eat. It would be the prophet Jeremiah that would prophesy according to the word of the LORD that the people of God had committed two evils—namely, that they had forsaken the LORD the fountain of living waters, and they had hewn out for themselves empty and broken cisterns that can hold no waters. Upon reading the words which are found within this chapter we are brought face to face with the reality that this coming to the waters is done solely and completely by seeking the LORD, and by calling upon Him. Moreover, the prophet would go on to emphatically declare unto the people that they ought to seek the LORD while He might be found, and to call upon Him while He was near. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and captivating reality, for when we speak about this thirst within our hearts and souls we must understand that the only way to truly satisfy that thirst is by seeking the LORD and by calling upon His name.
When was the last time you truly sought the LORD through prayer, through fasting, through weeping, through mourning, through worship, and by calling upon His name? When was the last time you truly allowed your heart and soul to be fully engaged in the pursuit of the LORD as you not only sought Him, but also called upon His name? The truth and ultimate reality is that if you are going to seek the LORD and if you are going to call upon His name you must do so with a heart that is fully and completely engaged. It was Moses who would emphatically declare unto that second generation of the children of Israel in the wilderness that the LORD their God was one LORD, and then invited them to love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength. We dare not miss this awesome and incredible truth, for when speaking of loving the LORD our God, Moses not only spoke of loving the LORD fully and completely, but Moses also spoke of loving the LORD with our heart and our soul. In other words, both our heart and our soul must be engaged if we are going to truly love the LORD our God—and not just our heart and soul, but also our strength. It must be recognized and understood that loving the LORD, that calling upon the name of the LORD, that seeking the LORD requires our whole being, and not simply one part of ourselves. If we are truly going to go after the LORD through seeking Him it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand it requires every part of us. Let me ask you this question, and I would like for you to be completely and utterly honest with yourself, and with your God: Have you ever worshipped with your heart and your soul truly engaged? Have you ever sought the LORD and called upon His name with your heart and soul fully engaged? Moreover, when Jesus spoke unto the Samaritan woman that the time and hour was coming when the true worshippers would worship the LORD in spirit and in truth—are you one who worships the LORD in the truth that is found concerning Him within His word? Just as the psalmist cried out and declared that deep calls unto deep, so also does our spirit within us call out to the living and eternal Spirit of the eternal and living God. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for this same Spirit is directly linked to truth as Jesus Himself would declare that the Spirit is the Spirit of truth and will guide us into all truth.
What I absolutely love concerning this matter of truth is what the prophet Isaiah goes on to speak and declare concerning the LORD in the fifty-fifth chapter concerning this LORD whom we are to seek and call upon. If and as you continue reading the words found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with words which have been widely and largely quoted and used throughout the generations as some of the most beloved and well-known verses in all of Scripture. The truth of the matter, however, is that these words come directly on the heels of the invitation to seek the LORD while He may be found, to call upon the LORD while He is near, and to let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Moreover, the prophet Isaiah would call the people of God to to return to the LORD, and by doing so the LORD would have mercy upon Him and abundantly pardon. That which is found in these verses is quite astonishing and unique, for when you find the prophet speaking of the thoughts of the LORD you will find directly linked to this reality the call for the unrighteous man to forsake their thoughts. Stop for a moment and consider just how absolutely remarkable and astounding this truly is when you read these words very carefully, for before the word of the LORD even speaks concerning the thoughts of the LORD, we find the prophet according to the word of the LORD calling and inviting men and women to forsake their thoughts—thoughts which were not in alignment with the thoughts of the LORD. It is this reality of the thoughts of the LORD and the bringing of our thinking into alignment with that which is expressed in the New Testament through the epistle which Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints, unto the Philippian saints, as well as the Colossians saints. Consider if you will the words found in this prophetic book of Isaiah, as well as the words which David the psalmist wrote in the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter of the book of the Psalms, and the words the apostle Paul wrote in three of his epistles:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:9-13).
“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:17-18).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience. Of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that He is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s” (2 Corinthians 10:3-7).
“Rejoice in the LORD always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The LORD is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
IS IT SUCH A FAST THAT I HAVE CHOSEN? IS NOT THIS THE FAST THAT I HAVE CHOSEN! COME UNTO THE LORD WITH YOUR THIRST! COME UNTO THE LORD WITH FASTING! ISAIAH 58! JOEL 2! As I bring this writing to a close I feel I cannot do so without drawing and calling your attention to the words which the prophet Isaiah spoke, which are recorded for us in the fifty-eighth chapter. If in the fifty-fifth chapter we are invited to recognize the thirst that is found within our hearts and souls, then what we find in the fifty-eighth chapter is a powerful invitation to explore that thirst. There is not a doubt in my mind that the true and ultimate way we explore that thirst which is present and so deeply embedded within our hearts and souls is through fasting before the LORD. Within the fifty-eighth chapter we find the word of the LORD comparing the fasting which the people themselves thought was necessary and acceptable in the sight of the living God and the type of fasting which the LORD actually approved of within his own heart and mind. There is not a doubt in my mind that when we seek to have a conversation about exploring and obeying the thirst that is found within our hearts and souls we must recognize that the ultimate way to open ourselves up to that is to engage fasting as the prophets Isaiah and Joel spoke of—this in addition to the words which Jesus Himself spoke about concerning fasting. If you want to truly understand the thirst within your heart and soul you have to be willing to deprive yourself of those things which you thought you needed within and during your life. If you are truly going to encounter and come face to face with the thirst that is found within yourself you must be willing to allow your heart, your soul, and even your mind to absolutely let go of anything and everything you thought you needed to bring satisfaction. You cannot and will not truly be able to engage and immerse yourself in thirst within your heart and soul—and not only engage and immerse yourself in it, but also experience the ability of the LORD to satisfy and fulfill it—until you are willing to live your life with your hands lifted up, and your hands open with your palms facing upward and ask the LORD to take away absolutely everything you thought you needed in this life. It is absolutely necessary and critical for you as an individual who is seeking to not only explore, but also obey the thirst that is within your heart to completely and utterly cast yourself upon the LORD through fasting, and the words which are found in this prophetic book are the key to unlocking that distinct and powerful truth. To obey your thirst you must be willing to afflict your soul, to bow your head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under you. Moreover, you must realize that your fasting must have as the objective and goal to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke—a reality which you must also understand and recognize applies directly to you. You must be willing to afflict your soul that the bands of wickedness within you be loosed, that the heavy burdens you have placed upon yourself might be undone, and that every yoke you have placed upon yourself might be cast off.
As you consider this reality of obeying the thirst of your soul it is absolutely necessary and imperative that you understand the true and ultimate way to do this is to allow yourself to afflict your soul and to completely and utterly break off every tie and every connection that is found within and upon your soul. Absolutely every yoke must be broken off, and every band of wickedness must be loosed in order for you to experience the freedom of exploring and obeying the thirst within your soul for the living waters. What’s more, is that you must be completely and utterly willing to allow absolutely every burden within and upon your soul to be completely and utterly undone and broken off that you might experience the true and utter satisfaction that only the living God as the fountain of living waters, and Jesus Christ who gave that great invitation to the thirsty to come unto Him and drink freely. With that being said, I invite you to consider the words which the prophet Isaiah prophesied in the fifty-eighth chapter of this prophetic book—and not only the words which Isaiah prophesied, but also the words which Joel prophesied unto Judah and Jerusalem, and the words which Jesus Himself spoke concerning fasting. When and as you read these words you must understand with everything that is present within you how the true and ultimate way to explore and obey the thirst within your soul is to afflict your soul through fasting that it might be completely and utterly stripped of everything it has held on to. Oh that we would recognize and understand this great and ultimate need to afflict our souls that every burden and every yoke which has been within and upon might be undone and broken—not only that the oppressed might go free, but also that you might fully and completely be satisfied by the only one who can truly satisfy you. With that being said, I leave you with the following words of the prophets and the Son of God as an invitation to explore the thirst within your soul through fasting as you seek to break every yoke, as you seek to undo heavy burdens, as you seek to loose the bands of wickedness, and as you seek to let the oppressed go free:
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou tamest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fists of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 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? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?? Then shall thy light break forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou shall, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday” (Isaiah 58:1-10).
“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your god? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (Joel 2:12-17).
“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:16-21).