Summary: Submission to God and His powerful presence are two of the keys of success as we journey in life. Our submission can be demonstrated through fasting.
2008 is a journey that no man has charted already. How can we know what are the prospects in life in store for us in this journey?
In today’s scripture, Ezra ask Israel to fast to ensure themselves of success and prosperity in their journey back to Jerusalem. They did not just pray the way they usually do, they fasted. What does it mean to fast?
This is what one of the commentaries I have consulted said about fasting, “In Leviticus 16:29, says it is “afflicting the soul”. In other words, fasting in the Hebrew mind is something my soul participates in. Fasting is denying my self. It is denying not only my body, but also my wants. It is saying that food and desires are secondary to something else. Fasting is “afflicting one’s soul”—an act of self-denial. But is not only an act of self-denial and here is where the monks and hermits went wrong. Biblical fasting is “not eating” with spiritual communication in mind. Biblical fasting always occurs together with prayer in the Bible—ALWAYS. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast without praying. Biblical fasting is deliberately abstaining from food for a spiritual reason: communication and relationship with the Father.”
This is what Ezra and Israel did. They fasted.
I. HUMBLE DOWN BEFORE THE LORD, 21
As their Hebrew mind dictated (as they obey the Law of Moses), they went without eating for a period of time and pray with their hearts to God until their prayers were answered.
B. Fasting is an expression of readiness—sacrifice anything including ourselves
II. HOLD GOD IN THE HIGHEST HONOR, 23
Instead of relying to the power of an earthly king, they trusted the Lord God in making their journey safe. Because they believed and declared that the Lord their God will be their protector. In doing, they give God the highest honor instead of making the earthly having the credits for their safe journey.
What are the things they demonstrated through their fasting?
A. Full trust in the Lord as His people.
B. Full submission to the Lord’s will.
C. Intensified prayer life and commitment to prayer.
D. Strong bond of unity.
E. Belief in the awesome power of God.
Yes, no man has chartered 2008 yet and even the years to come. But God is already ahead of us in this journey. He knows the future.
When the church was founded in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago, the believers’ were praying intensely. The power of God came, the Holy Spirit. The church became powerful in proclaiming the kingdom of God.