Fasting, God’s Word, and Righteousness
February 12, 2023
A few years ago, Richard Patterson was told by a Muslim friend that in Islam there is a tradition of writing out the Koran by hand among more devoted followers. Richard thought it was a good idea, and because he wasn’t Muslim, he found some appropriate pens and paper and began handwriting the King James Bible. All 788,000 words of it. For 6-8 hours per day, for four years, he meticulously wrote. And after 2400 pages and four years, he finished. He said he does not consider himself to be particularly religious. So why do it? “It expands my mind more and more…not so I can become more of a religious person, but so that I can become more of a whole person.” He apparently believes that his practice makes him better — but without considering his relationship with God. His delusion is not unusual. Even the OT Israelites were confused about the reason for their spiritual practices, as evidenced in Zechariah 7.
Zechariah 7:8-14 is still answering the question of fasting (“may we stop now?” v. 3), and expands the indictment of Israel’s false motives for fasting in vv. 5-7 to also include false obedience (vv. 8-10), false submission to the revealed Word of God (vv. 11-12), and the consequences of past failures (vv. 13-14). All these combined to reveal what independent, non-repentant, unrighteous living looks like.
Their quest to end their fasting was really a quest to end their dependence on God. They wanted self-autonomy and a loosening of the “shackles” of obedience and submission to God. This second response from God demonstrates that their desire was a manifestation of unrighteousness and a rejection of God’s Word — and of God Himself. The emphasis of God’s address in vv. 8-14 is —
Spiritual disciplines are of value when they produce righteous submission to God’s Word.
Spiritual disciplines, including fasting, are of no value if they promote self-righteousness and reject God dependence. Time in God’s Word and in fellowship with Him in prayer and with one another in worship should stimulate repentance and dependence — this passage unveils three characteristics of righteousness as it relates to Israel in the fifth century B.C., and us.
- A Picture of the Righteous Life (vv. 8-10)
- Honest brotherly relationships
- Compassionate giving care
- Pure heart desires
- The Sources of the Unrighteous Life (vv. 11-12a)
- Inattention to God’s Word
- Rejection of God’s Word
- The Consequences of an Unrighteous Life (vv. 12b-14)
- God does not respond
- God does judge
Download the rest of this sermon on Zechariah 7:8-14.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by Tuesday.
“Bible writing machine” by Peter Čuhalev is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
One thought on “Sermon: Fasting, God’s Word, and Righteousness”
Enough of my ‘finning’ you; God has been faithful to His word and the sermon was timely and certainly needed by all. He has used your message in my life in a myriad of ways. Counseling, outreach, directly in relationships have all been effected. Thank you for the gut wrenching necessary to deliver, faithfully, His word. All I can say is: MORE !!!