You can do all the right things for the entirely wrong reasons. Most of the time, people get away with it because even when that new friend you made at the gym ends up stealing your car, or that gentleman caller who seemed smitten with the stories of your cats empties out your bank account, you don’t want to believe it because it would mean you were duped, taken, swindled, and bamboozled.
The difference between pulling the wool over people's eyes
and God's is that God knows the heart's intent. The best poker face in the
world won’t be able to get past one glance from the Almighty, and every desire
of the heart is laid bare before Him as though it were sitting in the light of
day. It’s not that people don’t try. They still do; they just never succeed.
Objectively speaking, the people of Isaiah’s time did more to
ingratiate themselves to God than most church-going folks today. God still
called it a transgression. Just by that interaction alone, you begin to
understand the dire straits the modern-day church is in. They sought God daily;
they were delighted to know His ways; they asked for His ordinances of justice,
took delight in approaching Him, and even fasted, yet God tasked Isaiah with itemizing
In most cases, church-going folk today are only interested in
two primary things: is it entertaining, and does it end early enough that
they’ll be the first ones in the buffet lines? Everything else takes a back
seat to those two requirements, and if the answer is yes to both, then sound
doctrine, biblical teaching, seeking God, or being delighted to know His ways
would be a nice bonus but not necessarily a deal breaker. For some, insistence
upon the truth is the deal breaker because everyone knows you have to change
with the times to be relevant, and too much focus on biblical living will make
everyone around you think you’re a stick in the mud.
It’s funny how a generation of people who have never known
the true presence and power of God can insist with a straight face that they
are the pinnacle of understanding and spiritual maturity. Being the apple of
God’s eye isn’t a small feat after all; there can only be one unless God has
multiple apples in His eye. It’s akin to someone who’s never been outside
insisting that they’re an astronaut.
The men that today’s church looks down upon as backward and
legalistic operated with more authority and power than this present generation
can fathom. Their exploits on behalf of the Kingdom are such that they are
remembered from generation to generation, all the while never claiming that
they were anything more than bondservants of Christ.
In order to establish a given coordinate, you need the
longitudinal line and the latitudinal line. For us to be complete believers,
those whose sacrifice God receives and whose pleas He hears and responds to, we
must be rightly positioned, both vertically and horizontally.
When a lawyer asked Jesus what the great commandment in the
law was, His answer gave all the necessary coordinates required of an
individual to be in good standing with God.
Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall
love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and
Going through the motions may fool those around you, but it won’t
fool God. That was the summary of the first part of Isaiah’s prophecy, and it
was likely that its reception was akin to the reception any modern-day
messenger would receive if they were preaching repentance today.
There is a difference between what we do, how we see what we
do, and how God sees what we do—to our way of thinking, fasting once a year
warrants God’s eternal appreciation. It warrants an answer to every prayer,
whether silent or spoken. It warrants Him opening every door, making smooth
every path, and fighting every battle.
I fasted for a day; why didn’t I win the lottery? Why didn’t
my acne go away and my teeth straighten out? When our expectations are not met
because they are unbiblical, we get bitter and morose and, like those of
Isaiah’s day, begin to wonder if the Lord has seen or if the Lord has heard.
Isaiah 58:3-5, ‘“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. Is it a fast
that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his
head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this
a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?”
The people saw their fast as an affliction of the soul rather
than an opportunity to grow in God. They were bitter and angry because they’d
done this thing they deemed worthy of note, yet God seemed blind to their
sacrifice. They were lodging complaints at God based on how they saw their time
of fasting, and as clarification, God informed them of how He saw their fasts.
Rather than worshipful sacrifice, God saw the truth of it, and it was far from
what they pretended it was. Their fast was for strife and debate; they found
ways around a true fast by justifying the practice of things they ought not to
have practiced during their fast.
The message is clear: Don’t be like these people! Don’t fast to get noticed or jump to the head of the line; don’t approach it like an affliction but rather as a blessing- an opportunity to fellowship and be in the presence of the object of your devotion.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
Posted on 7 February 2024 | 11:24 am
Page processed in 0.026 seconds.