Every parent says it about their kids, but my oldest is pretty sharp. It’s not that my youngest isn’t, but she has her daddy’s type of intelligence, rather than her mom’s, which the oldest possesses to no end. While my wife is mathematically inclined, working with numbers, angles, areas of circumference, algebraic formulations, and other such mind-numbing things, I’m more of a creative soul, enamored with words, nuance, cadence, inflection, and delivery. My oldest is book smart. My youngest is street-smart, and even at the tender age of six, she knows more about how the world works than kids twice her age.
A few weeks back, my oldest came home from school thoroughly
upset. She’d done her math homework the day before, and her teacher told her
she needed to redo it because she needed to show her work. It wasn’t enough
that she knew the answer; she needed to write out how she came to her
conclusions. Her frustration was that she knew the answer and had no need to
carry numbers over or write out the equation.
I told her she didn’t make the rules, and if the teacher
required that she show her work, she needed to take the time and do as instructed.
She wasn’t happy, but she understood.
When it comes to fasting, how we do it, the spirit in which
we do it, and the mindset with which we approach it matter as much as whether
or not we do it at all. An acceptable fast to God isn’t simply denying
ourselves food and water, although historically speaking, that is one aspect of
it. What we do during the time in which we are offering our fasts on the altar
is of great importance and determines whether God receives our sacrifice or
We’ve known that not every sacrifice is automatically
received since the time of Cain and Abel. Abel’s was received, Cain’s wasn’t,
and Cain’s reaction was to bludgeon his brother to death out of jealousy. Just
because we say we do something unto the Lord doesn’t mean we really are unless
we actually are, and the one who gets to determine the truth of it is none
other than God.
Isaiah 58:1-3, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like
a trumpet; tell 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 did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me
the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God. ‘Why have we
fasted,’ they say, ‘You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You
take no notice?’”
Some seven hundred-fifty years before the birth of Jesus,
Isaiah was given a word from the Lord, and unlike most supposed words from the
Lord being bandied about nowadays, it wasn’t a pat on the head, an atta boy
you’re doing great, keep up the good work sort of word. From the outside looking
in, the people were doing all the right things. They sought God daily to know
His ways and took delight in approaching God. It was today’s equivalent of “What
is the Lord saying?” every day, all day, the question would be posed, the
desire to know present, but never any follow through. The Lord spoke, the
people heard, and the next day, they came before the Lord for a fresh word.
It’s not that they did as God commanded; it’s not as though
they followed through with true repentance of heart; they just wanted to know.
They wanted the message but not the responsibility of doing what the message
tasked them with doing. They delighted to know God’s ways but not to do
righteousness, and God had had enough.
Their transgression wasn’t that they didn’t seek God daily;
it’s that they didn’t do as God commanded. Their transgression wasn’t that they
didn’t delight in knowing His ways; it’s that they didn’t follow in them. Their
transgression wasn’t that they didn’t approach God; it was that once they
approached Him, they still did as they willed, unwilling to obey, submit, and
humbly follow Him.
Even when they fasted, they did it for credit and were wholly
offended when they felt as though God had not noticed or had not seen. They
didn’t do it to draw closer to Him, to strengthen their relationship or
intimacy with Him; they did it to get it over with and expected God to be
beside Himself with flattery and praise for their endeavors.
If you’ve ever wanted an example of what not to do while
fasting and how not to react having engaged in it, it’s the people of Isaiah’s
time and their insistence that God was not impressed enough with their fasting
You can want to know God’s ways and resist following them. If
that’s the case, all you’re interested in is knowledge for knowledge’s sake,
not so that it may transform you or guide you to a deeper understanding of God.
Many believers today are interested in prophecy; some are even
consumed by it, and the chorus of ‘What is the Lord saying today?’ is being
answered by the unscrupulous who would dare to speak on God’s behalf when He
has not spoken. Supply, meet demand.
The Lord had spoken, the people had heard, but they had not done. The people had fasted, but their fasting was for selfish reasons, and when God did not respond, they became rebellious, stiff-necked, and angry. They performed the act of fasting, but in the wrong spirit, with the wrong heart, and the wrong frame of mind.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
Posted on 6 February 2024 | 11:35 am
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