“Oh, Oh, Not ‘Leftovers’ Again!”

[The First in the Series on The Book Of Malachi]

Malachi 1:6-14 Commentary

Do you like leftovers?  I asked myself the same question and my answer varied somewhat.  I love leftover cold pizza for breakfast the next morning, and if there’s enough leftover, the following morning too.  But if I wasn’t too crazy about a particular dinner meal the first time, I certainly didn’t want leftovers the next day, or any other day, for that matter!  But how many of us would dare to serve our leftovers to an invited honored guest for dinner?  It might just be delicious, but we simply couldn’t do it.  Instead, we most likely want to make an impression and give our very best!  We want to make it memorable for our guests.

And so, we should also strive to give our very best to God!

Malachi is speaking to a nation that has compromised many of the standards set down in God’s Word.  They’ve gotten comfortable with life in the world and put God in the backseat.  They are dishonoring God and not giving Him their best.  And this brings me to this passage of Scripture in the Book of Malachi.

Malachi 1:6-11 (NIV)

[6]  “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the LORD Almighty.  “It is you priests who show contempt for my name.  But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?”

[7]  “By offering defiled food on my altar. But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’  “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible.

[8]  “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.

[9]  “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will He accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.

[10]  “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.

[11]  “My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi reveals a conflict marked by the bickering, the complaining, from God’s chosen people on one side, and the stern warnings of a holy and righteous God on the other.

Have you ever bickered or complained to your parents?  Of course, as children, that’s hard to look back that far, we were always right and our parents were always wrong.  Especially as teenagers.  As a parent on the receiving end, it can certainly be a frustrating experience.

In Malachi, we see the people bickering and arguing with Almighty God!  Look once more at verses 6, 7, and 13:

  • (1:6) “How have we shown contempt for your name?”
  • (1:7)  “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you’?”
  • (1:13) “And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously”

I can just imagine the rolling eyes on that one.  The people had developed their own faulty attitudes and opinions of WHO GOD IS and on the PURPOSE OF WORSHIP:  (1:14b.)  “For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My name is terrible and to be [reverently] feared among the nations.”

GOD IS HOLY and RIGHTEOUS, A Mighty King whose name is to be feared!

The people had somehow in the comfort found in the ‘same-O, same-O,’ attitude that they had lost their focus on who God is.  They got caught up in themselves and the rituals of worship and lost sight on the purpose of their worship.  Their attitudes toward God and toward worship had strayed from the Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5…

The people began to bicker or argue with God.  They adopted an attitude that they were more righteous and more holy than God Himself.  When confronted with their offensive attitude and actions, they were, in essence, saying to God,

“Are you talking to me?  Surely you’re not talking to me!  I’m doing just fine!”

They refused to hear from God!

They refused to believe they could be wrong!

They refused to swallow their pride and turn back to God in repentance!

Now I know.  It’s easy to point fingers at these hypocritical people, saying, “Wow…They just didn’t get it, did they?”  But what about us?

What is our attitude toward God and toward worship? 

Are we holding on to our arrogance and pride instead of listening to the Holy Spirit? 

Our attitude toward God and toward worship has an impact on others around us.  They might not say anything to us, but they’re watching.  As Christian believers, we are being watched with great scrutiny.  Our attitude will either cause others to stumble or will draw them closer to God.  Keep in mind that according to God’s Word in 1 Peter 2:9, we as believers in Christ Jesus, are now a royal priesthood…“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 

Don’t you just love that last part?  Instead of an attitude of bickering, complaining, or arguing, God will be honored and revered when we proclaim His praises!

Malachi 1:11 again…”For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name shall be great among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and indeed a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.”

Did you get that? “A pure offering”?  Arguing, bickering voices “aren’t gonna cut it” in the life of a believer!  Our purpose is to proclaim God’s praises because His name shall be great among the nations.

The bickering wasn’t the only characteristic of their worship.  As we can see in the passage of Scripture in chapter one, the worship of the one true God had become burdensome… (v. 13a)

“You say also, Behold, what drudgery and weariness this is!”

The WORSHIP had become an empty ritual that they engaged weekend after weekend, day after day, to maintain tradition rather than to please a holy and righteous God.  It was being done out of obligation instead of being done out of love.

Have you ever asked your children to do the dishes after dinner, and you get a little “attitude” in return?  Oh, the dishes eventually get done, but they did the absolute minimum to meet their obligation.

You mean to tell me they didn’t do it with a cheerful attitude full of love and gratefulness to you as their parent?

With that in mind, now scale it up into the priest’s attitude in their worship of God.  It was bad enough that the people of God lost their first love.  What made it worse was that they actually thought their religious performance was acceptable to Him!

God’s desire is for us to worship Him and serve Him with pleasure, with joy, with cheerfulness.

A question I’ve often asked myself over the years, do I find real joy in worship, or is it just a ritual?  Do we “do” certain things, like go to church for example, because it’s something your just supposed to do or is expected of you?  Do you find yourself wanting to do less and less for God?  It’s very easy to become burned out spiritually, physically, and emotionally from serving.  If you only use 20% of your body, you’ll burn out those over-used parts while the unused parts of your body atrophy.  This isn’t the way God intended for a healthy body to function!  Similarly, if a church body continues to use the same 20% of its members, they’ll burn out as well while the rest of the body atrophies!

God has a function and purpose for each one of us to fulfill in the body of Christ.

We can choose to tackle our purpose grudgingly (or not at all), or we can choose to pursue it with great expectations!  God knows that we can fall into a trap of becoming tired and discouraged in ministry, yet He wants us to push on with joy as we can see in Hebrews 12…

I want to examine more closely what was being offered to the Lord…(v. 8a)

“When you [priests] offer blind [animals] for sacrifice, is it not evil?  And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil?”

They offered God their leftovers, their hand-me-downs and expected God to bless them for it.  Not only were these blemished sacrifices offensive to God, but He called them “evil”!

Take a look at the last half of verse 13 and the first half of verse 14…(Amplified Bible)

(13) “…this you bring as an offering?  Shall I accept this from your hand?” says the Lord.

(14) “But cursed is the [cheating] deceiver who has a male in his flock and vows to offer it, yet sacrifices to the [soverign] Lord a blemished or diseased thing!

The word “deceiver” is the Hebrew word, “nakal”, which translates as a deceiver, swindler, or cheat.  God calls such a person  a cheater, one who can give better sacrifices but chooses not to.  Instead of honoring God with their best, they kept the best for themselves and gave God the worst of what they had,  What a slap in the face!

God’s LOVE is so extravagant for each one of us, that He chose to sacrifice the most precious thing He had, in order to redeem us, His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.  And the LOVE we show in return for His GRACE & MERCY amounts to some leftovers we found in the back of the Fridge, then emptied upon the altar as a worshipful sacrifice to Almighty God?

These ritualistic, blemished sacrifices are so offensive to God, that He prefers no sacrifices at a…(vs. 10)

[10]  “Oh, that there were even one among you [whose duty it is to minister to Me] who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on My altar to no purpose [an empty, futile, fruitless pretense]!  I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from your hand”  (Amplified Bible).

Just close up shop!  Shut it down!  Better no worship at all than empty rituals and offerings that fall well short of our best.

So the answer is “YES”…God continues to expect our sacrifices. 

Not just any sacrifice…it must be the BEST we have!

King David knew about acceptable sacrifice…(2 Samuel 24:24-25)

According to God’s Word, a SACRIFICE isn’t a SACRIFICE in less it cost something!

In the NT Gospels, SACRIFICE was costly as well –

  • A woman poured costly fragrant oil to anoint Jesus’ head as an expression of her love, the devotion of her worship.   (Mark 14:3-9)
  • The widow came to the Temple and gave from her poverty all that she had as an offering to God to express her love, her devotion, her worship.  (Luke 21:1-4)

They Got It!!!

They understood in their hearts what SACRIFICE really meant to a holy and righteous God.  Their love for God prompted them to cheerfully give their BEST without hesitation!

There are so many lessons and warnings to take in the message of Malachi. 

God sent Malachi to stir the people up in their spiritual stupor, to exhort them to return to the living God.  Instead of approaching God with voices and attitudes full of bickering and complaining, we are to proclaim His praises.  Instead of treating our service to God as burdensome, we are to serve Him with hearts full of joy.  Instead of offering to God sacrifices that are blemished, we are to present to Him offerings that are pure!

But no matter what we do or sacrifice, it will never be acceptable to God without LOVE; extravagant love for God that overflowed into our praises, compelling us to offer our best!

And finally, how authentic is our relationship with God?

How much of what we do for God has become an empty ritual versus sincere heartfelt worship?  I’m so guilty of this at times.  Am I truly giving God the absolute that I have to offer Him every day?  Or, am I giving Him the leftovers, the crumbs off the floor, hoping it pleases Hum?  I want to smell the aroma of fresh bread taken from the oven.

Are you experiencing JOY in your service and ministry to God, or are you finding it to be wearisome, even a burden at times?

You only have so much talent, so much time, so much ability, so many resources.  All God wants is YOUR BEST – that’s your form of a SACRIFICE of PRAISE to Him that brings Him glory and praise.

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CREDITS –

Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon –  Strong #5230, “deceiver,” Heb. “nakal – naw-kal’.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or, as noted in the text, or photo/images.

Is Finding the “Ashes of the Red Heifer” A Big Deal?

Numbers 19:2 (NIV Bible)

“This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded:  Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under the yoke.”

How many of you have ever heard of the ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER”?  Usually, not many have.  I could only find 2 mentions in Scripture – Numbers 19 and Hebrews 9.

In my last Blog-Post in the Book of Numbers, https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/dont-let-your-ashes-put-out-the-fire/, was about disposing of the ashes.  But here in Numbers 19, the ASHES were to be a “Perpetual Statute” to the nation of ISRAEL.

The Purpose Of The Ashes – NUMBERS 19:9

[9]  “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp.  They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.”

This God-given statute was during the time of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years–approximately 600,000 Israelites (not counting women and children) died of their failure to TRUST God and enter into the Promised Land–Canaan–(about 40 people per day) over the age of 20 years.  During this time, there was the serious ceremonial defilement of Israel who had to bury the dead.

In the Mosaic Law, there are 613 laws that were given at Mt. Sinai; 248 Mandatory Laws and 365 Prohibitionary Laws.  There were 18 Mandatory Laws alone that dealt with “Ritual Purity.”

This brings us to Numbers 19:14-16 – “touching the corpse of a dead person, or even their bones or on the grave”  CAUSED DEFILEMENT.  

This DEFILEMENT lasted 7 days:  Numbers 19:2-9 gives instructions to the Priests and the children of God in the process of PURIFICATION OF SIN which involved the use of the “Ashes of the Red Heifer.”

Jewish History of the Red Heifer (Talmud Histories) –

The Talmud is a Jewish History written by former Rabbis:

  1. Heifer was chosen and sacrificed/burned.
  2. Ashes collected and put into a crock-pot (2-3 gallons).
  3. The priest would take a hyssop, place in fresh, running water, take a pinch of ashes, place on the hyssop, sprinkle the sprig of hyssop upon the “unclean person” seven times, on the 3rd and 7th day.
  4. On the 7th day, the ceremonially unclean person was declared clean.
  5. When the “Ashes” were nearly consumed, another Red Heifer was sacrificed, burned, and its ashes “added to” the ashes of the previous heifer or heifers (perpetual statute).

From Numbers 19 until AD 69, there have been 9 such HEIFERS sacrificed.  [See Footnote [i] ]

IN AD 70, Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple and looted the city.  Many of the furnishings of the Temple were removed, including the Ark of the Covenant and…the Ashes of the Red Heifer.

The Archaeology Findings of 1947

A young Arab boy found the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave, including a “copper scroll.”  The scroll gave directions of a cave between Jericho and Saccachar.

Vendel Jones, an American archaeologist, found the cave, and after three digs and the beginning of the fourth dig, uncovered many artifacts.  Then for a second time, the money ran out and the permit to continue was refused.

The Significance of the Findings –

Temple worship cannot be established without the ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER being used to cleanse the priesthood of unrighteousness.

Today, in ISRAEL, a school is already in the process of training men named Cohen, Levy, and Levi from the Tribe of Levi.  The Chief Priest, the holiest man in Judaism, can ritually PURIFY himself, then the students into the PRIESTHOOD as soon as they find the “Ashes of the Red Cow”.  Why is the such a “BIG DEAL” when this happens?

The Church will be gone!  RAPTURED!

TYPOLOGY OF THE RED HEIFER – Old Testament/New Testament Comparisons.

  1.  Numbers 19:2 infers that the HEIFER came from among the people.  Christ came from among the people (John 1:11).
  2.  HEIFER brought as a SACRIFICE for others.  JESUS came as a SACRIFICE for others (John 3:16, 17; ! Timothy 1:15).
  3.  HEIFER was to be without spot or blemish (Numbers 19:2).  JESUS was also!  (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
  4.  HEIFER knew no yoke of bondage– a symbol of sin (vs. 2).  Christ knew no BONDAGE of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  5.  HEIFER was a “Female” – the price for a female slave was 30 pieces of silver, male slaves were sold for 50 pieces of silver.  Christ was sold (betrayed) for 30 pieces of silver.
  6.  HEIFER was given to the Priest, Eliezer (Numbers 19:3).  JESUS was arrested and taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest.
  7.  HEIFER was taken outside the camp for SACRIFICE.  JESUS was also taken to Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, then back to Pilate, then outside the camp (gates) of Jerusalem to Calvary.
  8.  HEIFER was slain BEFORE the Priest, but not by the Priest (Num. 19:4).  Christ was SLAIN before the Priest at the Cross.
  9.  HEIFER’S neck was “double jointed”.  One swift blow could kill.  JESUS too died in only 6 hours – He died at will swiftly.

While researching and looking up Scripture references this past week, Holy Spirit gave me a revelation from The Death, Crucifixion, and Burial of Jesus Christ.  And in that revelation, 2 men entered the conversation–

THE NICODEMUS & JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA DILEMMA – John 19:38-42

These two men came from two theological directions, totally opposed to each other.

JOSEPH had believed in salvation by good politics where Nicodemus had taught obedience from 613 rules which the Pharisee’s thoughts summed up the Old Testament Law of Moses.  But coming from two opposite directions, both came to believe JESUS was the MESSIAH!

So when they heard Jesus was going to be CRUCIFIED…they knew something would have to be done for decent disposal of His body.  If nothing was done, the Roman soldiers would leave the corpse to rot on the Cross.  And time was short because the PASSOVER celebrations would begin at sundown.

So the two men who were opposed to each other in doctrine together carried the body into a garden tomb laying the body not just in any tomb, but in Joseph of Arimathea’s recently carved out family tomb.  Previously, Joseph went boldly into the palace of Pilate the Roman Governor, asking permission to remove Jesus’ body from the Cross.

With Numbers 19 in mind, I believe Joseph of Arimathea must have sent his family a message that he would be defiled by touching a dead body and that the Passover Seder celebration would have to be delayed a month (according to my study on the rule given (Numbers 9:6-11).

Since of the importance, the Gospels give to these two men, an assumption can be made that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea must have joined the Christian community.  As the Holy Spirit began teaching them they soon discovered that Jesus’ Resurrection made nonsense of the Sadducee explanation that death of the body was the end.  JESUS’ SACRIFICE on the Cross replaced the cleansing of the Ashes of the Red Heifer once and for all!  Therefore, the significance of being cleansed by the “Ashes of the Red Heifer” was doctrinally important in the Jewish Law of Moses, but Jesus Himself had said, “I’ve come to fulfill the Law” (Matthew 5:17)

HIS BLOOD SACRIFICE FULFILLED THE LAW!

The Ashes of the Red Heifer – Numbers 19

In the Old Testament, the Priest sprinkled the “Blood of the Heifer” before the entrance of the presence of God (Numbers 19:4).

If you’re reading this POST and you’re not sure of your SALVATION…KNOW THIS:  If you would come to Christ, it will only be by the BLOOD of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22).

CONNECTING THE SACRIFICE OF THE HEIFER WITH CHRIST (Numbers 19:7, 8-9).

In these verses, we find that a person was “Unclean until made clean”.  So like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, how can we, who are born in sinful uncleanness (Romans 3:23), become CLEAN or RIGHTEOUS before God?

The ANSWER is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

 

And what happened to those who refused Cleansing?

Numbers 19:20 (AMP)

[20] But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord…

Those who refused CLEANSING were “cut off” – separated from God.

What about YOU?  Have YOU ever come for a “cleansing”, not from the “Ashes of the Red Heifer”, but from the BLOOD of the Lamb, Jesus Christ that He shed at Calvary?

Why not come today and be cleansed while there is still time in the last days.

 

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] :  Encyclopedia-Judacia: Red Heifer – Jewish Virtual Library.

Commentary:  Robert Brow – John 19:38-42, JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA AND NICODEMUS.  

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV)

SPIRITUAL “Sclerosis”

Before going on in this POST, I thought it important to give you first, definitions of the word “Sclerosis” –then, explain how it fits in with our spirituality in life and in the Church as a whole.

“SCLEROSIS” or “hardening”:  (See Footnotes [i] and [ii])

#1.  Medical Definition – A pathological hardening of tissue, especially from overgrowth of fibrous tissue or increase in interstitial tissue.

In the GREEK, “hardening or “to harden” – 

#2.  porosis denotes “a hardening,” a covering with a poros, a kind of stone, indicating “a process” and is used metaphorically of dulled spiritual perception.

With the above definitions in mind, lets take a deep look into God’s Word and investigate a principle set forth for us all to ponder in our Christian service.

CAUGHT UP IN “RITUALISM”?  (Zechariah 7:1-7 AMP Bible)–

[1] AND IN the fourth year of the reign of King darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev.

[2] Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and regem-melech and their men to pray and entreat the favor of the Lord.  [3] And to speak to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying,  [Now that I am returned from exile] should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself as I have done these so many years [in Babylon]?

[4] Then came the word of the Lord of hosts to me [Zechariah], saying,

[5] Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying,  When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years you were in exile, was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?  [6] And when you ate and when you drank, did you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves?

[7] Should you not hear the words the Lord cried by the former prophets when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity with her cities round about her, and the South (the Negev) and the lowlands were inhabited?

According to the Scofield Bible, “Religious Externalism”:  “The whole matter, like much in modern pseudo-Christianity, was extra-Biblical, formal and futile.”   RITUALISM appeals to the FLESH and helps people feel “religious.”  

In my opinion, I don’t think Christianity needs any help in being “religious” in today’s society and I find it a sign of spiritual decline.

How so?

Zechariah 7:1-3 – “What about FASTING?”

The question seems to imply a readiness to discontinue the practice, the ritual of THE FAST.  That question may have been going through their heads at the time, but was not asked…”Would discontinuing the FAST be evidence of a false sense of security or would it add to the displeasure of the LORD?  All good questions.

In their present SPIRITUALITY, the people were still in distress, under the Lord’s displeasure.  From the human viewpoint, there might be something said in favor of discontinuing the fasts–and in case you’re wondering by now, is this blog-Post about “FASTING”?  Yes and no. I’ll get to that as we move along

The LORD has changed His method of dealing with His people; returning to them in the way of MERCY!  So, would it not be proper to change their method of performing their duties?  [NOT just “fasting” as required by the clergy].

It seems as if the MAIN CONCERN of the delegation was the FAST held on the fifth month; the remembrance of the burning of the first TEMPLE.  At this point in time, the NEW TEMPLE was almost completely restored [See picture below of model].

So why FAST?

Having kept the ritual of fasting for 70+ years in exile, the delegation members felt it wouldn’t be a good idea to discontinue something they had grown accustomed to without approval from the PRIESTS and the PROPHETS.

The 2nd Temple Model
The 2nd Temple Model

 Some Questions Arise…

Should a good and productive method of RELIGIOUS SERVICES, which we find beneficial to ourselves and others, be simply abandoned or altered because of the changes taking place in society and the world?

What then, should OUR PURPOSE be in coming to church on Sunday, or during the week in “service”?

In this portion of Scripture,  Zechariah 7, the delegation’s PURPOSE for coming was to PRAY and SEEK God’s will in the matter of the continuance of the FASTS.

Our PURPOSE for coming to the House of the Lord…

It should be to pray and seek the LORD’s will for our lives; to WORSHIP HIM.  It’s NOT for entertainment.

When we present our requests, our petitions to the LORD, we should be in a READINESS TO RECEIVE instructions from Him.  If we refuse to listen, we can’t expect the LORD to accept our prayers.

The QUESTION we should bring before our LORD and Savior is not, what will You do for me, but what can I do for You, even though You don’t need my help.

In God’s answer to the LORD of hosts asked question,  “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years…was it for Me that you fasted, for Me?”  – (verse 5).

“CONSIDER YOUR WAYS”  

Consider what you’re doing and why; WORSHIP WITH PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING, PRAYING IN PUBLIC, TITHING IN CHURCH, SERVING IN MINISTRY, etc., etc.

The question posed in VERSE 5, not only does it involve the delegation, but to ALL the priests and the people of the land.  And in case you are wondering…we too are included in the answer…”was it for Me…, for Me?”.

The LORD of hosts asked this question because the delegation’s question seemed to be more concerned about the ceremony, the ritual, than about the SUBSTANCE or the spirit of it.  They seemed to be BOASTING of their fasting, believing they should have been returned to the LORD’s MERCY sooner than it did.

A similar question was asked by the people in the prophet Isaiah’s day:

“Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge  [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do]  you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor”  (Isaiah 58:3 ).

What the priests and people were doing wasn’t bad, not done in the right way.  The LORD wasn’t charging them with OMISSION or NEGLECT of their duty.  He was charging them of WRONG INTENT!

He was saying,  those who come with a good intent, to SEEK GOD’s MERCY, must be willing to admit their FAULTS, a hard thing to do.  We can sometimes be so zealous in our approach, in performance of our worship on Sundays, we set aside our need to faithfully examine our attitude or motives for even being there.  Don’t wait for the Worship & Praise team to motivate you on Sundays!

We should ask ourselves in service and duty,  “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I’M DOING?”

The LORD appeals to the conscience…

If the people had not been sincere in the performance of duty and their worship, they needed to understand, we need to understand, there is One who is far greater than their consciences.

PhotoBucket
PhotoBucket

In their FASTING and WORSHIP, a form of godliness, they lacked life, soul, and power.  The stress of their doing was laid upon the REPETITION of the rituals, instead of upon the worship of the LORD.  Even those who were seeking to please their heavenly Father, to obtain His favor, who are sincere in their intentions, were wanting.  This is why, in the sight of the LORD, their FASTS were a mockery.  They were using FASTS as a covering; a covering for their SIN, as Jezebel’s fast, or as the Pharisees’ fasts, resting in outward expressions of humiliation [false humility], while in the process, their hearts were unhumbled.

Nothing New in Zechariah 7:7:

The people and priests are told what the LORD of hosts has said, and it’s nothing new.  The question seems to imply they have forgotten.  The GOOD THING the Captives should have done…was left undone!

On their FAST DAYS, the captives went and separated themselves from daily activities; being a sign of their sorrow for the judgment they were under.  This wasn’t enough.  What they should have done was to search the Scriptures and they would have seen what was the reason for God’s controversy with their fathers, taking a warning by their miseries, not going down the same pathway.

The AFFLICTION that rested on their shoulders was to WAKE THEM UP!  Bring them to REPENTANCE!

A Warning!!!

The disobedience of others and the consequences should be a WARNING to us!  God’s judgements upon Israel of old for their sins were written for a CAUTION to Christians today:

“Now these things befell them by the way of a figure [as an example and warning to us]; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax (their consummation and concluding period)”  (1 Corinthians 10:11).

So Church, Why do we do what we do on Sundays?

In my reading for this study, I ran across a story that directed my thoughts to the above question.

A story is told about a wife who was cooking a roast.  She cuts the end off of the roast, puts it on a pan, then into the oven.  The husband asks,  “Why did you cut the end off?”

She replies  “Because my mom always did.”

The next day the wife asks her mom  “Why did you cut the end off of the roast before putting it in the oven?”  Mom replies  “Because my mom always did.”

So both of them went to Grandma and asked the same question.  “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before cooking it?”

Grandma replies  “So it would fit in the pan!”

Mark Batterson says  “All of us develop hypotheses about everything all the time.  Then we look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.”    GUILTY! 

Questions to ask ourselves before, during and after the Sunday Service–it’s more than about “fasting”:

Why do we take COMMUNION–How many of us are partaking in the way God desires us to participate in the Lord’s supper?  What is it that you WORSHIP?  What is it that you get excited about?  Why do we TITHE, why do we FELLOWSHIP (meet and greet time) right after worship and praise?  Why our we FASTING?  Does GOD want me to, or is it just at the pastor’s request?  Why do we do what we do?

And the answer to the many questions…”Was it for Me?”

“WAS IT FOR ME that you fasted, for Me?  (Zechariah 7:5 b.)

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are taking the Lord’s Supper?

“WAS IT FOR ME” that you are singing and worshiping?

“WAS IT FOR ME” you put in your tithe and offering?

Or is the condition of our SPIRITUALITY in a state of “Sclerosis”?  You’ll have to answer that question.

 

 

Photo Credits:  2nd Temple – Wikipedia Israel Museum;  “Sorry I’m Fasting” T-Shirt–PhotoBucket

Footnote References:

[i] – Merriam Webster Dictionary

[ii] –  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words–page  466 NT Words.