Fasting reveals a focus that is stronger than the need for food and water.
As Christians we know what it is like to HAVE BEEN an enemy of God, but through Christ we have become reconciled to God.
Romans 5:10 Romans 5:10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
American King James Version× For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Webster’s Online Dictionary
1a :to restore to friendship or harmony
The Day of Atonement gives us a vision into the future that suggests another reconciliation of sorts, a reconciliation of Israel with Christ.
Ezekiel 37:21 Ezekiel 37:21And say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, where they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
American King James Version× "Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;
Ezekiel 37:22 Ezekiel 37:22And I will make them one nation in the land on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.
American King James Version× and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.
Ezekiel 37:23 Ezekiel 37:23Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
American King James Version× They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
What I find curious about this day is the command to fast, because, otherwise, fasting throughout the Bible is a purely voluntary action instituted for a nation by a leader of the nation, or by an individual.
The nation or person fasting decides we are or I am going to afflict my body without food and water for a prescribed or un-prescribed amount of time.
A Few Examples
Under the governorship of Nehemiah the people fasted in repentance after the feast of Tabernacles.
The King of Nineveh also proclaimed a fast of repentance.
David fasted on behalf of his son, both to plea for his life and also to mourn.
Esther asked the Jews to fast on behalf of her life and theirs.
These voluntary fasts, fasting for the right reasons, were not a tool used by people to prove to God how serious they were about their request or confession.
And here is what I mean.
Consider the following scenarios...
1. Son, you’ve been pining away over that girl for days. Please eat something. “I’m not hungry.” – focused on another person because of love.
2. I know you need that promotion, but this project is running you into the ground. You aren’t even eating. Stop for some dinner. “I’m not hungry.” – focused on a project for the sake of success.
3. You’ve been so diligent to sandbag your home to protect it from the coming flood that you haven’t eaten. Take some time to regain your strength and eat this sandwich I made for you. “I’m not hungry.” – focused on staving off a disaster.
4. Acts 23:20 Acts 23:20And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire you that you would bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would inquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
American King James Version× And he said, "The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.
Acts 23:21 Acts 23:21But do not you yield to them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from you.
American King James Version× But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you." – focused on hatred.
You see... Fasting is an expression of FOCUS! A determined focus on Love/hate, critical life moments, and mourning; a hunger and thirst for something instead of food and water.
So this brings me back around to an annual Holy Day that requires us to afflict our souls, this FEAST of Atonement. As the called-out-ones we have been made aware by the gift given to us to understand God’s word that His Holy Days tell a story, reveal a plan, for the redemption of all mankind, all who are willing to be redeemed. Today we have rehearsed the part of that story where, for the first time since the Garden of Eden, mankind is brought back into a relationship with God, and the evil Spirit who helped mankind fall from grace in the first place is made impotent for an extended period of time.
So as we are in the last hours of this Holy Day, let us consider our own focus on the relationship we have with our Father and Jesus Christ. How may we better long for daily time spent with God?
Do I express how my God can do no wrong?
Do I express how my God has saved me?
Do I express how my God so lovingly forgives me?
Do I turn to God first when grieved?
Just how much do I love God’s perfection, desire to fulfill His will, rely on Him in crisis, and how willing am I to deny the lust of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life so that I may obey Him? Am I ready to declare, “I’m not hungry,” when I think about my God?
Isaiah 58:6 Isaiah 58:6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
American King James Version× "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?
Isaiah 58:7 Isaiah 58:7Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh?
American King James Version× 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?