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The Fundamentals of Fasting XVI

 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 not.

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 and sacrifice.

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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21. Feb 10, 2024 - The Fundamentals of Fasting XIX
22. Feb 9, 2024 - The Fundamentals of Fasting XVIII
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