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January 8, 2013 / brockbruce

5 Old Testament Reasons To Fast

fasting-resized-600.jpgIn the second post on fasting this week in preparation for our 21 day fast we look at 5 OT reasons for a fast. Are you ready?

1. A SIGN OF GRIEF OF MOURNING

When bad things happened in the OT fasting was often an expected and culturally normal expression of sadness.

Job fasted after the loss of children, wife, wealth, home. Job fasted for seven days along with his 3 friends. They mourned together. Job 3:24 For my sighing comes in place of my food, and my groanings flow forth like water.

How many of you can think of a time of tragedy and you lost your appetite? People would try to get you to eat. Fasting in the OT was often like this, but it was also an intentional sign to others that you were mourning. It was used as a sign to let others know that you are in a bad place. That tragedy had struck.

We don’t fast this way culturally. We often times don’t want people to know that we are hurting. “How are you doing?” “Oh I’m doing good” when in reality you really wish you had the courage and the lack of pride to be honest and say “My life is really messed up right now, please pray with me.” We need to be more transparent with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are told that when we bare one another’s burden’s we re fulfilling the law of Christ. We need to let people know our burdens. We need to share our needs so that we may lift one another up. So the Hebrews would fast publicly to let others know they had a need.

2. A SIGN OF REPENTANCE

JOEL tells the people of Israel that judgement is coming. That sin is rampant. That destruction will occur. Because of Israel’s idolatry, haughtiness, spiritual adultery, injustice, and hard hearts; God was bring judgment. And JOEL tells the Hebrews repeatedly in his prophecy to “Announce a holy fast; proclaim a sacred assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the temple of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.”

Why?

– to show repentance. to display their understanding of the severity of there sin. They were saying we understand how we have grieved you, and that grieves us.

– to assemble together to cry out to GOD for mercy and seek his face.

WE are also to recognize the gravity of our sin. We too, are to see what our sin has done. That our sin separates us from GOD. We are to seek GOD’s face, we are to receive GOD’s grace and mercy. SEE JOEL also prophecies that after repentance there would be a newness, a restoration. Part of that restoration occurred in Jerusalem around AD 33. When 50 days after the Death and Resurrection of JESUS CHRIST, the HOLY SPIRIT falls on the 120 in the upper room and Peter stands up with the 11 and says, quoting JOEL 2:28 and preaches this sermon “Acts 214 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams.

18 Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will prophesy.

19 I will show wonders in the heavens above

and signs on the earth below,

blood and fire and billows of smoke.

20 The sun will be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood

before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

21 And everyone who calls

on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest in hope,

27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

you will not let your holy one see decay.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[e]

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand

35 until I make your enemies

a footstool for your feet.”’[f]

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

This fasting was a sign of repentance. This prophecy was a pointing to a time when a newness would come and the SPIRIT of GOD would dwell in us. That if we would repent and call on the name of JESUS we would be part of a great restoration. A time that reveals JESUS as LORD. When we fast we for repentance we are proclaiming that we need a Savior. We are proclaiming that we need JESUS. And we we accept our need for JESUS, when we accept JESUS HE changes us. He saves us from our sin. He pours out His Spirit on us. As you fast, ask GOD to pour His Spirit on you. Ask GOD to make you a voice proclaiming His saving, restoring, delivering POWER.

3. FASTING AS AN AID IN PRAYER

One of, to me, the most amazing stories of fasting is found in 2 Samuel 12.  We see David fasting and praying for the health of his newborn son. His son is sick. Now this is part of the story that we have a hard time with, the reason for the child’s sickness. The child was innocent. The child was just a baby. But the child’s sickness was a judgement against David. Remember Bathsheba? She was the wife of Uriah.

David watched as Bathsheba took a bath.

David lusted after her. He desired her.

He didn’t care that she was married. He saw her and he wanted her.

So David sent for her. he had his servants go get her for him.

David had sex with her. Uriah is out fighting David’s war, but David’s got Uriah’s wife. She gets pregnant.

David has Uriah killed in war by sending him to the front line of the battle.

GOD is not happy with David. See David thought he’d have a little fun. He didn’t count on pregnancy. He didn’t think about what he would have to do to cover up his sin.

But GOD said, you can’t cover up your sin. Be sure your sin will find you out.

So God sends Nathan, the prophet to pronounce GOD’s judgment on David.

David realizes the severity of his sin and Nathan says that GOD forgives you, BUT your son will die.

So David fasts and prays that his son would not die.

In the natural I would like to be able to say to you that GOD heard David’s prayer and saw his fast and that GOD had mercy on David and that his son did not die, but GOD has a perfect plan and

12:18 On the seventh day the child died. But the servants of David were afraid to inform him that the child had died, for they said, “While the child was still alive he would not listen to us 31 when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He will do himself harm!” 32

12:19 When David saw that his servants were whispering to one another, he33 realized that the child was dead. So David asked his servants, “Is the child dead?” They replied, “Yes, he’s dead.” 12:20 So David got up from the ground, bathed, put on oil, and changed his clothes. He went to the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then, when he entered his palace, he requested that food be brought to him, and he ate.

12:21 His servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? While 34 the child was still alive, you fasted and wept. Once the child was dead you got up and ate food!” 12:22 He replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, 35 ‘Perhaps 36 the Lord will show pity and the child will live. 12:23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Am I able to bring him back? I will go to him, but he cannot return to me!’”

Why the innocent child and not the guilty David? Because GOD is SOVEREIGN and can do as he pleases. But why did it please GOD to take the baby?

– To let the people know that while he forgave David he wasn’t pleased with David.

– So that the people would see GOD as JUST and FAIR. It doesn’t seem just or fair to us at first glance. How is it Just or Fair that God lets David live but the baby dies. But that is not how the people of Israel saw it. They saw it as being unjust and unfair for GOD to treat David special when he judged Saul. So to the Hebrews and people of David’s time, GOD was showing his JUSTICE by not letting David get away with his sinful act of adultery, deception and murder.

BUT WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FASTING YOU MAY BE WONDERING. The scripture says that David fasted and prayed that the child would live but that when the child dies and washed, ate and went to worship. How could David worship after the death of his 7 day old baby? BECAUSE THE FAST HAD CHANGED HIS PERSPECTIVE. David was now willing to accept the judgment of the LORD because he had spent 7 days seeking GOD. FASTING CHANGES YOUR PERSPECTIVE. FASTING LINES YOU UP WITH GOD. FASTING MAKES YOU WILLING. See GOD’s ways are not alway/ or perhaps usually our ways, BUT HIS WAYS ARE PERFECT. DAVID TELLS US THAT THE WORD OF THE LORD IS PERFECT, THAT IT REVIVES THE SOUL. so even in the midst of this tragic judgment DAVID is able to find peace with GOD and offer comfort to those around him. Namely Bathsheba.

4. FASTING TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S PRESENCE

We spent time last week talking about Moses and his 40 day fasts. During that time he experience GOD. he had a divine revelation and encounter with the MOST HIGH GOD. Elijah also encounter’s GOD. And GOD feeds him and gives him strength to last 40 days journey to Mount Horeb.

Why did ELIJAH need to go to horeb? ( 1 Kings 18, 19 CLIFF’S NOTES VERSION)

-AHAB had become king of Israel

-AHAB married Jezebel.

-Jezebel was not a Hebrew. She was the daughter of the king of a pagan nation. She worshipped Baal.

-AHAB builds a temple for Baal and builds an idol for Baal worship.

-Elijah is a prophet and challenges the priests of Baal. (Hebrew’s worshipping Baal).

-They make an alter.

-Baal doesn’t show up.

-Jehovah shows up

-Fire falls from heaven.

-The Hebrew GOD is proved to be the true GOD.

-Jezebel gets angry and plans to kill Elijah.

-Elijah then gets scared. (WHEN YOU ARE WALKING UNDER THE QUICKENING ANOINTING POWER OF GOD YOU DON”T WORRY> BUT WHEN THE ANOINTING OF THE MOMENT IS GONE WE OFTEN FEAR FOR WHAT WE HAVE JUST DONE FOR GOD.)

-GOD send a meal to strengthen Elijah for the fast.

_Elijah fasts for 40 days.

-Elijah arrives at Horeb.

-A Fire. A wind. A still small voice.

-GOD tells Elijah that Elijah is not alone.

-That there are faithful people

-Elijah is encouraged, walks in authority and power and ultimately seeks out AHAB and proclaims GOD’s judgement on him.

Fasting prepares us for the battle. It makes us ready to face the enemy. It reminds us that we are not alone. Its strengthens us in the Spirit, because we must depend on GOD. Fasting allows us to experience GOD in a fresh way. Fasting allows us to discover more about JESUS and allow the HOLY SPIRIT to work things in us and reveal things to us, that line up with scripture. Fasts are times of a greater experience with JESUS.

5. FASTING AS WORSHIP

The day of atonement was a fast. The people would gather together and worship and fast together. The DAY OF ATONEMENT WAS WHEN GOD MADE A WAY FOR THE SINS OF THE PEOPLE TO BE COVERED. IT MADE THE PEOPLE “AT ONE” with GOD. We understand that JESUS is the final way that sin is dealt with. JESUS is the LAMB SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. SO we worship JESUS. JESUS CAME TO MAKE US “AT ONE” w/ GOD. Because Jesus covered our sins, blotting them out, and took them in His body bring us peace with GOD, we worship him. One way we worship JESUS is by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice. One way we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice is to offer our bodies in a fast. Saying GOD I WORSHIP YOU. I NEED YOU. YOU ALONE ARE WORTHY. I AM HUMBLED BEFORE YOU. I NEED YOU. I WORSHIP YOU. We fast as a sign of worship to our KING. We are saying you are worthy or all of me. And we do it corporately, together to say GOD we as a church worship you, we as a church need you, we as a church give you all that we are.

So we fast. And we seek GOD, asking GOD to change our hearts toward HIM and make us new within. Why are you fasting?

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