…You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. – Isa. 58:4b NIV
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Today’s devotional is a continuation of the devotional with the title “Stop Defaming Yahweh”. The earlier devotional focused on the unwillingness of the Lord to allow the Israelites and by implication all Christians, to present Him as a god that is insatiable. The Almighty God wanted the Prophet Isaiah to declare to His people, not in low tones, but in a trumpet-like manner, the reason why all those spiritual and religious acts seemed not effective in changing their situation. Similarly, onlookers will not be equally deceived by the visible but hypocritical acts of a people He has come to describe as His own.
Although they were painting a picture of being loyal and devoted to Him with their religious acts of worship, He wanted the Prophet Isaiah to let them in particular and all people in general know why all those acts which ordinarily should have been sufficient to get them out of the negative situation they found themselves in, remained effective. According to the Almighty God;
- They do as they please in addition to keeping people under oppression – Isa. 58:3b. On the day they claim to have devoted to the Lord, they are involved in acts that cannot and do not receive the approval of the Lord and more specifically, they keep people in oppression and they expect liberation.
- The acts that they consider as fasting starts and ends with quarelling and strife and in striking each other with wicked fists – Isa. 58:4a. These acts in most cases may not even be visible to other people but to the one that is involved, he/she is aware of the wicked thoughts that is haboured towards that neighbour with plans to perpetuate one form of evil or the other against such. That definitely cannot be acceptable to God as he desires a sacrifice from one with a clean hands and pure heart – Psa. 24:4.
- They pick only a day to fast believing that they can spend the other days in acts that run contrary to all His instructions – Isa. 58:5a. They seem to believe that God is only interested in that period that they have declared as they go ahead and use the other days to perpetuate acts that does not enhance His personality.
- Even the act of fasting as far as they are concerned is limited to a physical act of humility, wearing of sackcloth and putting ashes on themselves – Isa. 58:5b. They do not commit their hearts and thoughts completely to this spiritual act even on during that period they claim to have dedicated to His worship – Mark 12:30.
As far as the Almighty God is concerned, they should not expect any of these acts of theirs to be acceptable to Him as acts of worship and so should not expect any response to their prayers and pleas from Him.
Hmmmm. What a clear declaration of His personality and standard by the Almighty God Himself. He was not going to accept the acts of deceit and hypocrisy of men. He was too pure and honest to accept the physical and verbal acts and sacrifice of a dishonest people.
There is no doubt that even today, many Christians are involved in similar acts in an attempt to give the impression of being greatly devoted in worship to the Lord. Truth be told, they may succeed in convincing men but will definitely fail in their attempt to deceive the Lord. Days are constantly set aside periodically by Christians today, with the impression that such days are been devoted to the worship of the Lord whilst the other days can be devoted to all those not too godly acts. Even on these same days that they claim to have devoted to the worship of the Almighty God, they approach Him with a mind that is filled with anger and malice for fellow brothers. Christians gather with filth and plans of perpetuating evil against one another in their hearts and claim to be fasting in devotion to a holy god. The psalmist says that accomodation of iniquity in his heart, no matter how little, will make it impossible for God to hear his prayers – Psa. 66:18. If only Christians could present a clean heart just as they present a clean body during prayers, then they would not be seen as being Pharisees in conduct and character and their spiritual acts of worship will be more effective – Matt. 23:25-26. It would have been better to strive to keep a clean hand and a pure heart towards that neighbour before bringing all those verbal sacrifices, after all the average Christian is aware that their can be no forgiveness for the one that has chosen not to forgive his neighbour, moreso, to the point of wishing such evil, just as their can be no acceptance of the prayer of the one that God has not forgiven – Matt. 6:12-15.
Christians believe that even on these so called holy days, they could just put up a facial expression that depict holiness and devotion to the Lord. The Almighty God needs us to rend our hearts and not our garments – Joel 2:13. All those physical depiction of holiness means nothing to Him when the heart is filthy and not remorseful. Give meaning to your spiritual acts especially your fast so that they can achieve the required objective. Let your act of fasting be a life style, deeply spiritual and not just physical, and above all, done with a heart devoid of malice and hatred for a brother. Then you can expect a positive result from all those acts and it will not just end up being a period of affliction for your body. May God accept all our religious acts of worship in Jesus name. Amen.