I have read chapter 24 of Exodus more times than I can count. You might remember that this chapter begins the story of the receiving of the Ten Commandments. Recently, I read the chapter again and discovered something that I missed every time I have read it before. The people receive the Commandments and promise to obey God. But they make this promise in a strange sort of way, “All that you have said we will do and hear.” Shouldn’t that be the other way around? How can we do what God commands until we’ve heard it first? Some biblical scholars say this is just a scribal error, and it’s certainly possible that we’re all reading too much into this particular bout of biblical dyslexia.
I prefer the rabbinic explanation which is given. In the Talmud we discover the statement “we will do, and we will hear,” which amounts to a commitment to carry out God’s commandments even before hearing what the observance of those commandments actually involves. Only someone who is totally willing to shape his entire life around Torah observance would be willing to make such a commitment. It is the understanding that the practice precedes the belief, not the other way around.
I have heard it said that a Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of thought. And by living this way, the faithful Jew discovers spiritual meaning and the presence of God!
During Lent, we will look at a different spiritual discipline and then strive to practice the discipline the following week. I hope you will join me as together we take a LEAP OF FAITH as we walk with God.
Fasting is often called a spiritual discipline. It is a ‘discipline’ in the sense that we are meant to put it into practice. It is only ‘spiritual’ when it connects us with the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit as we seek to deepen our discipleship in daily life. John Wesley calls fasting a “means of grace.”
Each week (on either Wednesday or Thursday), after the evening meal until mid-afternoon (around 3:00 pm) on the following day (Thursday or Friday), John Wesley fasted. During this time, he did not take solid food but fasted and focused much of his time in prayer. We are invited to join this tradition of the people called Methodist. I challenge you to join me in fasting each week during Lent. My plan is to fast from Wednesday evening to Thursday mid-afternoon. I will use this fasting time as a time to pray for our church, for the prayer concerns of our congregation, and for my family and close friends.