“‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.”
Through Isaiah, God answered the arguments of those who appeared religious but didn’t think God was holding up His end of the bargain. They thought that by fasting, they gained points with God and that He should do whatever they asked.
But God shows that we can fast with the wrong motives, attitudes and actions. Trying to show off to men or to God does not bring the desired result of humility, repentance and change. It is hypocritical to feel more righteous for fasting, but not to change or to feel compassion for employees, our families and homeless and starving people. When we feel hungry, we should want to help the poor, not exploit them.
For more about fasting, see “What Is Fasting?”