Fake Fasting // A Lenten Bible Study
hmm... that's odd. a tidbit alarming even.
What if his shouting was about your specific sins in front of everyone?
That isn't what we expect, is it? But that is exactly what God had the prophet Isaiah do.
Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. Isaiah 58:1
It is Lent, the church season where we remember Jesus' 40 days in the desert when he fasted and was tempted by Satan. In response, some people take this time before Easter to fast or restrain themselves from something that they enjoy. Some don't eat meat, chocolate, caffeine, or a meal at all. Some go without social media or TV. Some go on a buying freeze where they only buy necessities...
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. Isaiah 58:2
But what is the point of fasting if we aren't replacing that void with Jesus?
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Isaiah 58:3a
What if our good intentions to draw near to God through fasting actually led us down a path away from Him? If we pat ourselves on the back for another successful day of avoiding chocolate but hurt another person with our words or actions... we are missing the point.
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Isaiah 58:3b-4
This is serious stuff. We are no different from the hypocritical Pharisees thinking that our outward appearances and discipline can hide our inner thoughts from God. Fasting is not a thing to show off or compare who is "giving up" more than the other. Lent has nothing to do with what you "give up" but rather what Jesus gave up for the world. John 3:16
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Isaiah 58:5
During Lent we take a magnifying glass to our sin - or in Isaiah's case a megaphone. Naturally, this can be uncomfortable as we don't even like whispering our sins let alone shouting them. But as we fast, confess, and repent... we do so with Jesus at our side. We are not alone as He was in the desert.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
One thing we should not starve ourselves from is His Word. That is where Jesus went when he was hungry.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:1-4
I am grateful that you are joining me during this season of Lent in God's Word.
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