Sermon: A Question for the Lord

A Question for the Lord
Zechariah 7:1-7
February 5, 2023

For many years now, at the beginning of every year, I have preached a series of two sermons on essential spiritual disciplines:  Bible and prayer.  Then a few years ago I started also preaching a sermon on evangelism and the gospel.  We need these yearly reminders of the basics of the spiritual life and the necessity of practicing the basics of spiritual disciplines. 

We are thankful that the Lord has revealed Himself to us in His Word and that we have fellowship with Him through Bible and prayer.  We teach the disciplines at the first of every year — and in Faith Fit, and Precept, and the counseling room, and AWANA, and in membership interviews, and in virtually all we do.  The disciplines are important — even essential and crucial.

But it is also easy to get confused by what we gain from the disciplines.  It is tempting to think that if we miss one morning of Bible reading that God is greatly displeased and will work against us all that day and make our day miserable.  And we are also tempted to think that when we are faithful to the disciplines that God loves us more than when we miss them and that all will go well all that day.  With both those thoughts we are equating the disciplines with a lucky rabbit’s foot, Aladdin’s lamp, or some other charm.

The Lord’s favor is not gained by outward obedience to rituals and traditions.  The Lord’s favor is experienced as a gift from Him to those who are internally humble and contrite before Him.  Obedience to God matters, but obedience that is based on what He has said and obedience that flows from a heart that desires to joyful obey is what He desires.  The passage before us in Zechariah 7 will illustrate it this way:

Spiritual disciplines please the Lord when they are done from a heart to please Him.

We might say it another way — spiritual disciplines don’t please the Lord without the right motive.

One of the lessons we learn from Job is that we never want to get into a Q&A debate with God.  When we ask questions that suppose self-righteousness, we can expect correction and rebuke from the Lord, and that is exactly what the characters who questioned God in this passage experienced.  Let’s observe what God teaches the restored nation of Israel about spiritual disciplines (and specifically the discipline of fasting) and the habits of the heart through a series of questions.

  1. A Question from the People About Fasting (vv. 1-3)
    • The biblical practice of fasting
    • The historical context of this question (vv. 1-2)
    • The nature of this question (v. 3)
  2. Two Questions from the Lord About Fasting (vv. 4-6)
    • “Why are you fasting?” (vv. 4-5)
    • “Are you fasting for self-glory?” (v. 6)
  3. A Reminder from the Past About Fasting and Obedience (v. 7)

Download the rest of this sermon on Zechariah 7:1-7.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website by Tuesday.

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