Summary: There is a powerful secret that every Christian needs to know, especially in troubled times. Let’s learn about the right and wrong use of fasting. Let’s see what the inspired Word of God says about it.
Prelude: There is a powerful secret that every Christian needs to know, especially in troubled times. Purpose: Let’s learn about the right and wrong use of fasting. Plan: Let’s see what the inspired Word of God says about it.
27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
Forty days of total fast would be suicide for us. This is a record of a miracle whereby God sustained Moses while on the mount.
21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. 22 For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.
A great lesson of this passage is that we fast to “humble ourselves.” Their purpose was to entreat God, and God answered their prayer.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high. 5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
Fasting is not for indulging selfish pleasures, exploiting poor workers, contention, strife, or fistfighting. Fasting ought to free us from wickedness, remove burdens, free the oppressed, break yokes, feed the hungry, care for the poor, clothe the naked, look after our families, destroy slavery, stop fingerpointing, eradicate wicked talk, and help the afflicted. Fasting involves turning to God and changing our hearts.
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.
Fasting is not party time for vegans and vegetarians. It’s a time for wholehearted turning to God, for weeping and mourning for our own sins and the sins of the world.
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Notice Jesus’ said, WHEN not IF you fast. Christians fast, not to be a spiritual showoff, but something private between us and God.