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 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