(14 verses, 2:00 to read)
What I am about to READ:
True repentance is seen in just and merciful actions, not in abstaining from food.
MARK & LEARN
1: “The fourth year of King Darius”—518 BC.
3: “Abstain”—To abstain from food; only on one day of the year did the Law of Moses command the Israelites to fast: the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). The Israelites fasted voluntarily in times of distress (threat of war, mourning, penitence, or in this case to mourn the loss of the temple). True repentance fostered fasting for the Lord, showing a spirit of sorrow and supplication. Fasting for oneself was done to be honored by men or to earn favor with God.
5: “Seventh [month]”—The month in which Gedaliah, the governor of Judah, was assassinated (Jeremiah 40:13f). This prompted Babylon to destroy Jerusalem.
9-10: Note the list of sins the earlier prophets condemned, but the people did not repent.
12: “Diamond-hard”—A stone that is harder than steel. “Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead” (Ezekiel 3:9).
13: “They called, and I would not hear” – There came a time when the people’s time of grace had ended. Their prayers for God’s help and relief came from hardened hearts, not from repentant hearts looking for grace.
In the days before the exile, many in Judah fasted, but their fasts were too often unaccompanied by real repentance over the sins of injustice, oppression, and a lack of mercy. Let this be a lesson for us also. When we offer our service to the Lord, whether in a church worship service, a Bible study, or our homes, we should never think that outward deeds alone are important to God. Everything we do must be a fruit of repentance and faith and must be accompanied by the fruits mentioned in this chapter.
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Pastor Kevin Zellers, Jr.