Reject Evil

Now that we’ve completed our fast I want each of us to maintain a healthy spiritual lifestyle that continues to focus on God, that deny ourselves, and that we live in God’s peace. I’m not asking you to live like New Testament Pharisees who fasted each Monday and Thursday, for public piety. Christ Jesus was strong in His condemnation of them. In the proper sense, fasting helps discipline fleshly appetites and keeps our spiritual priorities in the right order. It keeps us in Confession, it affords us opportunities to reveal our struggles and to shore-up our shortcomings. We can not hear God’s solutions if all we are always talking about our problems. We need some divine listening (Lectio Divina) When we link our times of fasting with study, prayer, worship, and dedication we become an individual ripe for revival. Just to deprive oneself of food or certain activities is not fasting, that is skipping meals and staying away unless there is devotion of our heart, there is no lasting spiritual benefit. Consider A New Way of Thinking: Confess, Reject.

Reject The World. Jerusalem who fasted this day certainly had the right motives. The Day of Atonement was passed, and they could have said in their hearts that all was well. However, they knew they needed to draw closer to the Lord. The phrase and with earth on their heads indicates that they smeared dust on their heads as a sign of mourning and grief. The first time this occurs in Scripture in Israel’s defeat by little old Ai. Joshua 7:6~Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same and sprinkled dust on their heads. (NIV) 

This is the motivation behind ash Wednesday. We are to be separated unto God filled with deep contrition over our sins. Nehemiah 9:2~And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. (ESV) Nehemiah 9:3~And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. (ESV) 

As the seed of Christ, we are to separate ourselves from the world. Here in Nehemiah the nation of Israel is to separate themselves by rejecting the world. For the Jews, this would mean no intermarriage with the local Canaanites which is explicitly condemned in the Law of Moses (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-5) The prophets had denounced the practice, and Ezra had reacted violently to it just a few years earlier. Ezra 9:3~When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. (NIV) He sounds like a dad over a child’s dating selection. They’d also brought the first fruits, tithes, and did not neglect the house of the Lord. These demonstrate sincere repentance.

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