And they said to Him, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”
Luke 5:33-39 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The practice of fasting is established throughout the scriptures. In the time in which Jesus walked the Earth, the religious Pharisees fasted two or three days a week. Jesus exposed their hearts when He told them that they only fasted to be seen by men. Their religious act of fasting did nothing to bring to their hearts a revelation of who Jesus really was. There was a prophetess by the name of Anna who spent forty years fasting and praying in the temple for the reconciliation of Israel.
When Joseph and Mary brought in the baby Jesus, she received a revelation of who He was in her heart.
So you can see there were two different types of fasting taking place with two different motivations and ultimately two different outcomes. Jesus told the Pharisees that they had missed the day in which He had visited them and their religious activities had done nothing to soften their heart towards Him. He exposed to them that they love their traditions and acts of worship more than they love God himself.
Think about it, we can have a church program or ministry that we love more than Him. The Lord reminded me recently as I went on a fast of the scripture, Isaiah 58, the fast that God chooses. He spoke to my heart that it’s easier for me to fast for a short season than to live a “fasted” life. It’s easier for me to bring my body into subjection for a few days than to live differently on a daily basis. Bringing our flesh under subjection to the Spirit man day by day is much more challenging.
The judgement against the people of God in the book of Jeremiah was that they would not obey God’s voice.
Thinking back to Luke chapter 5 where Jesus talked about the wine and the wine skins is eye opening. God is not looking to reform us, He wants to make us new creations. If your trying to reform your life by religion eventually the “new wine,” in the “old bottle,” will burst. The two are just not going to fit together. Your life is not going to fit until you let the sword of the Spirit, God’s word, put the old man to death. You have to make a choice to let Him do a new work in you.
We would rather live by precepts, rules and regulations than relationship with God.
In the book of Genesis there were two trees in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil worked off of rules and principles, such as, do this, don’t do that. The tree of life operates in the moment, hearing the Spirit of God as you make decisions.
Living in relationship instead of rules brings peace and rest. Listen for God’s voice and don’t confine Him to a rule. Stop and really listen to what He is saying to you. Begin to depend upon relationship, living by the Spirit. Cultivate in your heart, your relationship with the Lord.
The Children of Israel knew God’s acts but Moses knew His ways because there was a relationship there. We are learning to hear His voice and be sensitive to it. God’s heartbeat from Genesis to Revelation has been for the purpose of having relationship with you. The very thing that would separate you from Him, sin, he took upon Himself. He made a way for you through you through the cross, to be able to boldly come to His throne of grace.
Stop and reflect upon this amazing truth and choose today within yourself, a heart of thanksgiving.
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