THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN (Continued)
Scripture Reading: Luke 18:9-14
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Continuing with the Pharisee’s prayer, he concluded, "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." Hidden in this verse is a revealing fact of how far removed from God’s institution of things man had become. Since the Pharisees were so tied to the Law, the shift from the Scriptures is staggering. Let us go back to God’s instructions in the Old Covenant.
Fasting was the same as afflicting the soul. In Leviticus 16:29 it reads, "And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you." Continuing to Numbers 29:7 which states, "And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein:" Moving forward to the time of the Prophet Zechariah, the number of fasts had increased to four times in the year. "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace (Zechariah 8:19)."
At the time of Jesus teaching this parable twice weekly, again between Passover and Pentecost and between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Dedication. There are Scriptural accounts of proclamations of a fast to seek God, but where is Scriptural instruction for twice weekly? The quest of the heart of every believer should be to know God’s instruction on a matter.