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Why Fast on the Day of Atonement?

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Why Fast on the Day of Atonement?

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Why Fast on the Day of Atonement?

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The spiritual qualities of fasting humility, grief over sin, and self-discipline are key elements to God’s instructions for putting Satan out of our personal lives. And perhaps while we look ahead to Satan’s real removal on that day we should also be thinking of the need to remove him from our lives today in preparation for our future role in the rule of Christ.

Transcript

Fasting on the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 23:26-32 Leviticus 23:26-32 [26] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [27] Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. [28] And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. [29] For whatever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. [30] And whatever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. [31] You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. [32] It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
American King James Version×
/ Leviticus 16:29-31 Leviticus 16:29-31 [29] And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojournes among you: [30] For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. [31] It shall be a sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
American King James Version×
commanded to afflict yourself on the Day of Atonement

Afflict ~ Anah occurs about 80 times in OT is most often translated “humble or affliction”. Used to describe harsh and painful treatment… Egypt afflicting Israel for 400 years… for Sarai dealing harshly with Hagar… to take a woman sexually by force… Frequently the verb expresses the idea that God sends affliction for disciplinary purposes: "... the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart..." (Deut. 8:2)

And in the Day of Atonement observance to afflict oneself is understood to mean to fast, to deny oneself food and water for the entire day. But how do we know that is what Anah means with regards to the Day of Atonement? Couldn’t it be referring to some strange sort of self inflicted penance?

We get the answer from scripture:

There is no word for fasting in the first 8 books of the bible. But as the Hebrew language continued to develop and expand the started to use a separate word for what we know of as fasting (possibly to avoid confusion). That word is tsome (meaning to cover the mouth ie. not let food in). Tsome is always translated fast, fasted, fasting etc.

So, how do we prove that to afflict yourself means to fast?

There are three places in scripture that use the ancient term “anah / affliction” in association with the newer word “tsome / fasting”… Ezra 8:21 Ezra 8:21Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
American King James Version×
, Psalms 35:13 Psalms 35:13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into my own bosom.
American King James Version×
, Isaiah 58:3 Isaiah 58:3Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted our soul, and you take no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labors.
American King James Version×
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One last point… How do we know that means no food or water? Esther 4:16 Esther 4:16Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast you for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in to the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
American King James Version×

What are the spiritual implications of fasting on the Day of Atonement?

Grief: Not wanting to eat is a natural response/symptom of grief/loss… it’s a form of mourning/sorrow (use example of Liz Porter). In a religious setting fasting is a conscious act meant to demonstrate or bring forth a sense of grief… especially over sin.

Self Discipline: Fasting is also an expression of spiritual self discipline… exercise in mastery over the flesh (this is how a Buddhist would understand fasting)

Humility: While the newer word tsome / fasting is more descriptive of what is actually done… the ancient word anah is better at drawing our attention to the state of mind the activity is meant to induce. When we afflict ourselves on the Day of Atonement we humble ourselves before God.

Why Fast on the Day of Atonement Rather Than Any Other Holy Day?

Don’t we always want to present ourselves as humble before God? Why then is fasting only commanded on the Day of Atonement rather than another of the Holy days?

First, some back-story: In the grand scheme of God’s plan of salvation the Day of Atonement comes after the return of Christ as king of kings… and before the 1,000 years of Christ’s rule on earth. Atonement marks the occasion of Satan’s future removal from his current position of “God of this world”.

To prepare for the 1,000-year rule of Christ, Satan will be completely removed from the scene. He will be bound in a manner that stops him from influencing humanity for the entire 1,000 year period. Without Satan’s influence, Christ’s government will be a demonstration of God’s way in action before the final stage in God’s plan (the 8th day).

So, why fast on Atonement?

The spiritual qualities of fasting… humility, grief over sin, and self-discipline are key elements to God’s instructions for putting Satan out of our personal lives. And perhaps while we look ahead to Satan’s real removal on that day we should also be thinking of the need to remove him from our lives today in preparation for our future role in the rule of Christ.

God’s Instructions For Driving Satan Away

Satan is more powerful than you and standing up to him can seem impossible… but Jesus Christ is stronger by far… and if He is with you and in you there is nothing to fear. However, we must also do our part in driving Satan out. (use NIV from here on)

  • Matthew 4:1-3 Matthew 4:1-3 [1] Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. [3] And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
    American King James Version×
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    Jesus personal example for resisting Satan was to begin with fasting.
  • James 4:6-10 James 4:6-10 [6] But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. [7] Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. [9] Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. [10] Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
    American King James Version×
    Humble yourself… weep and mourn over sin (Godly sorrow leading to purity)
  • 1 Peter 5:5-10 1 Peter 5:5-10 [5] Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. [6] Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: [7] Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you. [8] Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: [9] Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brothers that are in the world. [10] But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
    American King James Version×
    humble yourself… sober, vigilant, steadfast in the faith (self-disciplined)

Humility… grief over sin… self-discipline

What Does Humility Do To Drive Satan Away?

To humble yourself before God is to see yourself as lowly in comparison to Him and to submit yourself to Him. I admit that I am nothing with God… I do not have life within myself… I do not have power on my own… I do not have knowledge on my own. What life I have is given to me by Him and sustained by Him… what power I have comes from Him… what knowledge I have comes from Him.

I submit myself to Him even through suffering… I know He is in control wanting only what is good for me

I submit myself to Him to be my guide and teacher in life… I know He is truthful

I submit myself to His judgments… I know He is just and merciful

Psalms 25:8-9 Psalms 25:8-9 [8] Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. [9] The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
American King James Version×
/ Daniel 10:12 Daniel 10:12Then said he to me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand, and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I am come for your words.
American King James Version×

 

This is the opposite of Satan’s grand delusion “I will be like the Most High”

This is the opposite of Humanity’s delusion “you will be like God knowing good and evil”

 

Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah 57:15For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
American King James Version×
To humble myself is also an invitation to God to dwell with me and within me

Matthew 12:22-29 Matthew 12:22-29 [22] Then was brought to him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw. [23] And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? [24] But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. [25] And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: [26] And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? [27] And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. [28] But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come to you. [29] Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
American King James Version×
Satan driven out by a power greater than his own… God’s Holy Spirit moves is Satan moves out!

How Does Fasting Humble Me?

Fasting quickly makes us realize how totally dependent we are upon God your creator. He has stocked the earth with fresh water, plants, fruits and selected meats for you to eat.  But without that food + water He has provided our flesh will die.

Fasting, therefore, reminds us that our present life here on earth is limited… it is physical and temporary. Our real goal is life eternal spirit life. But without the power of His Spirit and His Word we die spiritually.

How Does Self Discipline Drive Out Satan?

In James 4:8 James 4:8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
American King James Version×
we read:

  1. clean your hands from sin… change the way you act using God’s law as your guide
  2. purify your thoughts from double-mindedness… (di-suchos) meaning wavering between two spirits… the spirit that is now at work in the children of disobedience… and the spirit of God that is now at work within you. 

Matthew 12:42-43 Matthew 12:42-43 [42] The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. [43] When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
American King James Version×
we clean our house to make room for God to dwell there… if we don’t let Him fill us up… if we stay empty... then all the bad stuff we got rid of will come back.

Fill yourself with the word of God… fill yourself with the spirit of God… leave no room for Satan.

Ephesians 6:11-17 Ephesians 6:11-17 [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. [12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. [13] Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. [14] Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; [15] And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; [16] Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. [17] And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
American King James Version×
truth/righteousness / gospel/faith / salvation/spirit… to put on the armor of God is to fill you mind with these thoughts… and fill your days with these actions.

The self-discipline that drives out Satan is a combination of commitment to and practice of moral behavior as defined by God’s law’s statutes and judgments. It is also a commitment to and an understanding of doctrinal truth… understanding the big picture… the truth… the plan of salvation… the good news of the KOG.

Self-discipline that drives out Satan is a combination of head knowledge… to know and know that you know… and hand knowledge… to know and to do.

I Cor 9:24 -10:7

How Does Fasting Teach Discipline?

Going without food and water goes against our most basic instincts… the self-preservation of the flesh. Your mind might say… I’m going to go without food or water for an entire day… your flesh cries out saying WHY? Why do you want to do this to me?

Successfully fasting shows you that you can exercise control over your desires, wants, and passions. Mastering your appetite for basic sustenance gives you greater confidence that you can move forward in controlling those passions and desires that lead you into sin.

Consider: The first sin was one of desire

… a lust for something to eat “it was good for food”

… an appeal to vanity and pride “desirable to make one wise”

We must be in control of the desires of our flesh and of our mind.

What about Fasting as an act of grief and mourning?

A person does not decide to cast off pride and vanity unless they are convinced that a change in their thinking needs to happen… they are grieved over their foolish vanity.

A person does not begin the difficult course of self-discipline that seeks to control the desires which lead to sin… unless that are convinced that a change needs to happen. Unless they are grieved over their sin.

 2 Corinthians 7:6-11 2 Corinthians 7:6-11 [6] Nevertheless God, that comforts those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; [7] And not by his coming only, but by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. [8] For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same letter has made you sorry, though it were but for a season. [9] Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing. [10] For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. [11] For behold this selfsame thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it worked in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
American King James Version×

Leviticus 16:29-30 Leviticus 16:29-30 [29] And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojournes among you: [30] For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
American King James Version×

This day of atonement let’s fast to remind ourselves of God’s instructions for driving Satan out… humility… Godly sorrow over sin… and self-discipline.