Summary: Fasting has never been commanded to the church, so do we need to do it?
Fasting, is it Necessary?
I have fasted and I have fasted and prayed, but this study that I have done has been good for me to realize I may not have always done it for the right reason or been effective in it. So I stand here as a learner, as usual.
A lot more people can fast than do, but because of heath reasons it is not always a good idea and you know yourselves. For pastor Lindsay’s mom who is diabetic fasting is not a good plan and for some there are other health risks.
It so happened that this past week Lindsay and I were also reading the Book of Esther in the mornings. In the Book of Esther we find a tremendous lesson in fasting and I want to look at her story this morning.
Instead of reading the whole Book of Esther I am going to give you a quick overview of the story.
a. story of Esther
• King Ahasuerus (Xerxes, 486 to 465 BC) of Persia has a six
month celebration, followed by a seven day feast, also one
hosted by his wife, Queen Vashti, for the women - Es 1:1-9
• Ahasuerus decides to show off his wife, but she refuses to
cooperate - Es 1:10-12
• In anger, Ahasuerus has Vashti banished, as a warning to all
wives - Es 1:13-22
• A search to replace Vashti was begun - Es 2:1-4
• In Shusan there was Mordecai, a Jew raising his lovely and
beautiful cousin Hadassah (Esther) - Es 2:5-7
• Together with other beautiful virgins, she underwent 12 months
of preparation, and ultimately was selected to replace Vashti
- Es 2:8-19
• But she did not reveal that she was a Jew - Es 2:20
• Meanwhile, Mordecai thwarted a plot against Ahasuerus - Es
• Haman the Agagite, is promoted, but Mordecai as a Jew refuses
to bow before him, which infuriates Haman - Es 3:1-5
• Haman receives permission from Ahasuerus to kill the Jews, the
13th of Adar - Es 3:6-15
• Mordecai mourns in sackcloth and ashes at the king's gate - Es
• Esther hears of her cousin, and learns of Haman's plan to kill
the Jews - Es 4:4-9
• Mordecai convinces Esther to approach the king, at great risk
to her own life - Es 4:10-17
• Esther instructs Mordecai to get all the Jews to fast From food and drink for 3 days and nights and she and her maids would do likewise because if she approached the King without his permission she was at risk of execution. 4:16-17
• Esther is granted an audience,
• She invites the king and Haman to a
banquet - Es 5:1-5
• She invites them to another banquet the following night, to
make her petition - Es 5:6-8
• As Haman leaves he is angered when Mordecai refuses to bow to
him; his wife and friends persuade him to build a gallows for Mordecai - Es 5:9-14
• That night the king can't sleep; reading through the archives
he learns how Mordecai thwarted the plot against him, yet nothing had been done to honour him - Es 6:1-3
• The king asks Haman what should be done to honour a good man;
Haman assumes the king intends to honour him and answers accordingly - Es 6:4-9
• The king has Haman bestow honour on Mordecai, Haman returns home ashamed - Es 6:10-14
• The next day, the king and Haman dine again with Esther; she
tells of the plot to kill the Jews (her own people) and accuses Haman - Es 7:1-6
• In anger the king leaves, soon returning to find Haman
assaulting Esther - Es 7:7-8
• . Informed of the gallows Haman built for Mordecai, the king
hangs Haman on it - Es 7:9-10
• Esther is given Haman's house, Mordecai promoted, and they make plans to save the Jews - Es 8:1-17
• The Jews are spared, their enemies destroyed, Esther and
Mordecai institute the feast of Purim to commemorate the Jews'
deliverance - Es 9:1-32
• Mordecai the Jew becomes second to King Ahasuerus of Persia
• Mordecai becomes great and well received among the Jews, seeking their good and speaking peace to them - Es 10:3
So to recap, Esther when she finds out from Mordecai what Haman decree was to kill all the Jews she knows that if she just walks in to the King she will be killed.
"From a human point of view, everything was against Esther and the success of her mission. The law was against her, because nobody was allowed to interrupt the king. The government was against her, for the decree said that she was to be slain. Her sex was against her, because the king’s attitude toward women was worse than chauvinistic. In one sense, even the fast could be against her; for going three days without food and drink would not necessarily improve her appearance or physical strength.