Sunday Service | Mt. Zion Church | 21 May 2017
MP3 file: 20170521MP-FastingAndFruitful.mp3
Fasting should be the life style of believers, not only in the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. Jesus instructed His disciples not only to pray but also to fast. The urgency of fasting is as important as praying. After taught His disciples how they should pray, Jesus continued with the teaching about how they should fast.
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:16-18 NKJV
Fasting never meant to be used as a method for diet. God never ask His people to fast for that reason. Fasting is not only about skip our breakfast and lunch but moreover about our attitude toward God. Some people may do fasting with anger in their heart, while another people may do fasting just to be seen by another people, and maybe another group of believers never do fasting in their life. It is very important to understand the reason of fasting before we start to abstain from food for a certain moment. Jesus want us to do fasting happily so we can enjoy it and not doing it with sad feeling. Fasting should be dedicated to God only and be done in secret place so our Heavenly Father will reward it openly.
TABERNACLE PATTERN AND FASTING
The Bible teach us about tabernacle (temple of God) and we can easily incorporate the pattern of tabernacle into all aspects of our spiritual life. The tabernacle consists of 4 different areas: the outer court, the court, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy. Only Israel people allowed to enter the court, while the Holy Place is only for the priest and the Most Holy is reserved only for the High Priest and represents the condition of perfection.
As we are called as a royal priesthood 1Pet.2:9 so actually we are qualified to enter into the Holy Place and we need to fulfil our calling. Whatever we do, including fasting, need to be aligned with the standard of the Holy Place so God can be pleased with our fasting.
The book of Acts recorded about how the Jews doing fasting for a reason that totally wrong. As they hated Paul and envied his ministry so they wanted Paul to be killed Ac.23:12-15. What they actually did was not a good fasting but a hunger strike. Even though they abstain from food and drink but their fasting was an evil thing in God’s presence. This is an example about fasting in the outer court, fasting that doesn’t please God at all. We are not supposed to do fasting for a wrong reason in His presence.
The court represents the condition of believers in the early stage, which is not mature enough. All believers must have been there for a while when they started the journey of faith. But we must not stop at the court, we need to move on and continue the progress of our faith until the Holy Place. The court also could represent the condition when someone fall again in any sin so they need to be restored again. The book of Judges and Samuel gave examples how the Israelites did a corporate fasting because they fall into sin and then God sent some punishment. As soon as they became aware, they humbled their heart and did a fasting asking for a restoration for their condition Jdg.20:26, 1Sa.7:6. In this case we can see that fasting could be a serious expression to apologise. They felt very sorry and then asked God’s favour to solve the problem and restore their condition. God will forgive whoever come to Him confessing their sins because He is faithful and just 1Jn.1:9. However, sometimes the restoration could not be as much as we expect because sins always destroys lot of good things Ec.9:18. King David once fell into a complex sin, not only stole Uriah’s wife but also made a plan how to kill Uriah. After Nathan came and rebuked David for his sin, David humbled himself, and with all of his heart he confessed his big sin. The good news is God forgave David 2Sa.12:13, but the child who David got in his sin would die. Even David did a serious fasting for many days asking for restoration but God did not want to hear it and that son died at last 2Sa.12:16-18. David did not angry to God as he knew and understood what God was doing to him 2Sa.12:22-23. If any believers fall into sin and have a condition like David, it’s good for them to do a fasting so they can turn to God seriously, asking His favour for restoration. However, God does not want His people fall into sin again and again. The healing process could consume a lot of time and also make the divine plan in God’s people may come shorter and shorter.
The most ideal fasting that we should do is the fasting in the atmosphere of Holy Place. This fasting is not because we want to force God doing something to fulfil our lust, this fasting is also not merely because we want to ask restoration for our fault, but this fasting is simply because we want to come closer to Him, to humble ourselves in His presence and ask for His guidance for our life so we can have the best future as His will. The Bible gave a lot of example how God’s people doing fasting for this good reason.
Jesus told us to do a fasting because we may face a condition that will never could be solved with our own strength. Even though we already have a good Christian life style – like Bible reading, going to the church, and pray – Jesus encourage His people to add fasting to their life style.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:19-21 NKJV
We always have a dynamic life. We will never could predict what will happen next in our life, what we may face, what kind of struggle we may have, but one thing that we can know for sure is God could provide us with extra heavenly power and unexplainable so we can keep calm and overcome all our trouble! God may allow us to face a new situation where that kind could not be overcome except by prayer and fasting, so we may learn to commence fasting in our life. The early church also gave an example how they do a corporate fasting asking for God’s guidance in their ministry and how they could prepare the future of the church.
2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 13:2-3 NKJV
As we have an urgency to build our future and prepare the best future for our family as well so why don’t we start to pray and fast. As a human being, we will never know what is the best for our future, but God will know for sure and He wants us to come closer to Him, humble our heart, so He can lead us and hold our hand. If we never ask so we will never receive, if we never knock His door so He would never open it for us Mat.7:8.
So, when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:23 NKJV
The early church also did a fasting asking for anointing and protection. During that days, they suffered from a huge pressure, not only from the Romans government but also from the Jews. There was not better protection other than Lord’s hand only. We need to be aware that devils’ work always there waiting for anyone to be attacked and eat 1Ptr.5:8. Fasting is such an important way to do so we can ask more for His protection.
THE BLESSING OF FASTING
Isaiah 58 told us a lot of blessing that we can have through fasting. The Bible said that our light will break forth, we may have the answer for the question that we ask for a long time; the healing will quickly appear; the glory of the Lord will be our rear guard; we will call and the Lord will answer, how good is that if we can have a good communication with the Lord; the Lord will guide us continually, our soul will be satisfied; our bones, which also means our hope, will be strengthened; our life would be fruitful since we will be like a watered garden, we will always refresh and will not lack for anything Is.58:8-12.
There always a reason to postpone our commitment to do fasting. Let’s ask Holy Spirit to always remind us the urgency of fasting, specially in this last days where the world always changes quickly day by day. Let the Holy Spirit open the eyes of our heart so we can see it clearly and we can take an immediate action. AMEN.