Praying Through the Bible #109
TEXT: Zechariah 7:8-14
Over the past three weeks we have looked at the issue of ritualism in our prayers and in other aspects of our spiritual lives which we all ought to be striving to avoid. The Methodist minister Samuel Chadwick said, “Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, are things Christ unsparingly condemned. Destitute of fire, they are nothing more than a godless philosophy, an ethical system, and a superstition.” God addressed the issue of ritualism with the Israelites who had instituted ritualistic fasts while they were in Exile. When the Jews returned from Exile, they wanted to know if they were supposed to continue keeping their man-made fasts. From God’s response through His prophet Zechariah, we are given three key insights into the roots of ritualism.
So far in this series...
1. We saw that ritualism begins when pure religion ends. God commanded the Israelites to "Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassion every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart." These are all commands that we ought to obey. However, abiding by a set of rules, if your heart is not in it, is worthless to God. God wants our religious activity to be rooted in the heart and not in habit or obligation. God wants realness, not ritual, in our prayers, in our fasting, in our service, and in our worship.
2. We saw that ritualism deepens when rebellion is embraced. Verses 11 and 12 read, "But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law." ...
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