Having just celebrated Christmas most of us will, no doubt, have enjoyed the feast that came with that. It’s undoubtedly the most popular Christian feast on the calendar and arguably the one that is popular for the most wrong reasons. It’s become so deeply entrenched in our culture that even non-Christians celebrate the occasion as one of the most important events in their year too.

As you read through today’s passage you can see that this is not a new phenomenon. People in the time of Zechariah did very similar things. Shareezer and Regem-Melech had been sent to ask if the people should maintain the periods of fasting and mourning that they had observed for the last 70 or more years. Short answer…”No”. I’m paraphrasing here but God said, ‘Your motivation for fasting or feasting has been entirely misplaced said God. You’ve only been fasting because you felt sorry for yourselves and the feasts you’ve held have been sheer self-indulgence.’ The truth was that the only fasting God was interested in was related to giving up self-indulgence, dishonesty and injustice and the feast days should be about seeking or celebrating holiness not creating holidays.

The next season we recognise in our Christian calendar is Lent which begins on 14th February. Traditionally, it’s a period of fasting and many of us will consider giving something up for 40 days. The idea is to remember the time Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness at the point when His ministry really began. His 40 days of fasting was a time of pressing into what God had ordained for Him and it should speak to us of pursuing God’s purposes for us in the same way, seeking His holiness and striving to find a way of walking in His power and presence. So many of the great revivalists we read about through the ages testify to spending times like that, pursuing God for His anointing as Jesus did. We often forget that the feast of Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour and that Lent is about seeking His holiness as we move towards the Easter celebrations. In other words we do the feast and the fast without the pursuit of holiness or recognising the purpose for it. It’s tradition rather than action and it loses its power because of that.

Verses 11 and 12 sum it up wonderfully, “But they refused to pay attention…..so the Lord Almighty was very angry.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Father forgive us for neglecting You in our fasting and feasting. Remind us of who we are in You and charge us with determination to pursue you in all events. Amen.

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