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 takest 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 fist 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?
The prophet, Isaiah, was told by God to loudly proclaim the transgression of Judah. The people seemed to take real pleasure in going through the prescribed daily rituals, acting as if they were a truly obedient nation. In fact, they accused God of being indifferent to their fasts and acts of contrition, but He accused them of self-gratification, of taking advantage of their employees, and fighting in the midst of their fasting. Theirs is not the kind of fasting that counted with God. True fasting is not a matter of physical posture or of outward display of mourning, but an inward sign of obedience.