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When Fasting Changed #spiritualfast

Fine DiningI’m taking a few posts to talk about fasting.  I believe that fasting is one of the most neglected sources of spiritual power in the Christian walk.

In my last post I said that the New Testament fast is totally different than that of the old.  I base this upon the words of Jesus Himself when He was questioned about fasting by the disciples of John the Baptist.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
Matthew 9:14-15

When asked why He didn’t make His disciples fast, Jesus replied that they were not going to mourn while He was here with them.  The Old Testament fast was a humbling process before God for the forgiveness of sin.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was the fulfillment of this.  Humiliation for sin was finished – God’s provision had arrived.

The Lord then goes on to talk about the “new patch” and the “new wineskins” in the next verses (v16-17).  Most Christians have no idea that Jesus was talking about fasting when He gave these illustrations.

It’s obvious to me that the Lord didn’t want the disciples to get confused.  This would have happened if He made them fast according to Old Testament tradition, and then later on tried to teach them the New Covenant fast.  He must have felt it was better to start them off correctly right from the beginning.

That’s also why I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the Old Testament fast.  Under the law, fasting was a whole different thing than in the New Testament church.  Unfortunately, many Christians have no idea what the fast is all about now.  It’s my prayer that you will by the end of this series.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:16-18

The first thing we see here is that Jesus said, “When you fast…”  Preachers are always quick to point out to their people that Jesus said, “When you pray…” They explain that it means Jesus expects prayer to be a regular part of the Christian walk.  They do the same thing with “When you give…”  What happened to fasting?

It seems to me that the Lord wants fasting to be just as much a part of our lives.  Many of us ignore it and think our walk with God will not suffer for it.  Jesus assumed that fasting was to be a regular part of the Christian walk.  I believe that most of us don’t understand it, and that’s why it is not practiced.

Question: How important is fasting in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Is Fasting for You? #spiritualfast

PlateDo you ever fast?  How often do you fast?  Do you fast regularly?  Weekly?  Monthly?  Why do you fast?  Why don’t you fast?  Is fasting even important in the life of the Christian?

I believe that fasting is one of the most powerful disciplines that you can participate in.  So, I’m going to deal with some of these issues in a series of posts.  Hopefully, by the end of this series, you will decide to fast at least one day a week.  Not only that, but you’ll look forward to fasting with expectancy in what it will accomplish in your life and ministry.

The Old Testament is filled with references about fasting.  I want to take this post to explain the Old Testament fast and how it relates to the New Testament.  As in all areas, whenever an Old Covenant teaching is studied, it must pass through the filter of the cross before we can apply it to our lives.  Only then can you know how much of it, if any, has a place in the New Covenant.

The first thing that should strike you as you study the Old Testament is that fasting was a very mournful experience.  Here are a few occurrences for you to look up.  In Judges 20:26, Israel fasted after a military defeat in order to gain a victory.  In I Kings 21:9, they fasted during a time of judgment in order to show their humility and repentance.  In Joel 1:14, it was to show repentance.

The principle found in I Samuel 31:13 shows fasting during a time of mourning.  In Daniel 9:3, he fasted to remind God of the promise to restore Israel.  Finally, Ezra 8:21 demonstrates humility before God in order to bring about the restoration of Jerusalem.

It’s clear from the above verses that a majority of the Old Testament fasting experience was one of mourning and humility before God.  Unfortunately, many Christians spend a lot of time getting all of their fasting theology from the Old Testament.

They think that they have to mourn over sin and fast in order to do “penance.”  They’re hoping that by doing something hard, they’ll obtain what they want from God.  In essence, they’re trying to get God to do something for them by doing something difficult for Him.  As you’ll see from Scripture, this is not the fast we’re called to.

Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me.  This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
Zechariah 8:18-19

Zechariah was a prophet who ministered just before the “quiet time” between the Old and New Testaments.  During his time, a prophecy came forth that some day fasting was going to change.

Instead of the mourning that Israel was accustomed to, fasting was going to become a joy.  I believe that he was referring to the fast that we experience under the New Covenant.  That’s the fast I will talk about in the upcoming posts.

Question: What’s your fasting experience at this point in your Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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