Don’t just go without food on Atonement. Be READY for Atonement.
The day of Atonement is a most solemn holyday, and we should be prepared for it. In here I will address the fasting we do.
I’ve written on this before, so I’ll get to the point. There are probably a lot of us who will be fasting who – at the end of the day – are hungry and wondered what we accomplished by fasting and only have a headache to show for it. That will happen IF… IF we don’t prepare for Atonement spiritually and mentally.
Don’t just go without food or water on Atonement. We are told to afflict our souls (Leviticus 23:27 and Lev 16:29,31). David said he humbled and afflicted his soul with fasting (Psalm 35:13; 69:10). “Afflicting your soul” was commonly understood to mean fasting. Fasting with deep repentant prayer often went hand in hand – as In Daniel 9:3, when Daniel sought his God and was repenting frankly not just for himself, but also for the whole nation of Judah, which was in captivity.
I urge all of you reading this to study Isaiah 58, which is all about effective fasting from God’s viewpoint, before Atonement. Let’s use Atonement as a day of repenting of areas in our lives that we know fall short of God’s will. I mean habits that aren’t Christ-like like movies, entertainment, and any activities we participate in – that we know Yeshua would not be participating in. We renew our determination to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Maybe we’re too stingy with our funds instead of supporting widows and orphans in their time of need.
Those last 2 sentences above are actually a definition of “pure religion” – see James 1:27.
Use this day to come before God Most High and ask him – by faith through Yeshua -- to cover you with HIS righteousness, to atone for our sins we still fall into, and let us be there with Yeshua when he returns to this earth. I have many sermons on this website about how we must have the righteousness of God himself gifted to us through faith (Romans 5:17; Philippians 3:9-11).
Don’t just use the day to listen to the sermon and just go hungry. Have a purpose for being hungry, besides the automatic reason that “God told us to fast”. Let’s read Isaiah 58 together now and I hope this year’s fasting on Atonement will result in our decisions to make some definite changes in our lives – which makes it an effective fast.
In Isaiah 58:3-5 God tells us fasting without change in our lives gets nowhere with God. We dress up and go to church on this day, say the prayers, sing the songs of praise, listen to the sermons -- but God’s not impressed. Why? So let’s pick up in Isaiah 58:6, God speaking:
Isaiah 58:6-10 New Living Translation: "No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free and remove the chains that bind people.
“ (v.7) Share your food with the hungry and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. [Can you point to specific times recently when you’ve done these?]
God implies in verse 8 that we’re not seeing more HEALINGS partly because we’re not using fasts to create changes in our lives. If we wonder where God is, and he doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers – maybe we’re not praying and fasting with changes in our lives. Verse 9 – God WANTS to answer our prayers. If he doesn’t seem to be, the issue is not with God, but with us.
Continuing Isa 58:8-10 : "Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. 9 Then when you call, YHVH will answer. 'Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply. "Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!10 Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
In verse 9 He asks us to stop the gossip about others. Stop “pointing the finger” as we criticize everyone else for falling so far short. I have women neighbors I can hear, who walk together in the morning, and I can hear them as they pass by our home. Sometimes they talk loudly on their cell phones. It’s almost always about someone and what horrible thing that someone did, can you imagine that? God says stop gossiping, pointing the finger, especially when identities can be known.
Let’s read and re-read Isaiah 58 until we know what changes we’ll make. Certainly let’s do pray much more and seek our God with all our being as we worship and seek Him on this Day of Atonement. Let’s not just go a day with a no-caffeine headache while feeling hungry and wondering why we were fasting.
Of course we fast on the Day of Atonement for other reasons as well. Some few (initially) from around the world will be seeking this new ruler who came through space – visible to all – and his name is Yeshua, the Son of God. With all the plagues, war, hail, earthquakes and heavenly fearsome sights before he lands on Mount of Olives – He’ll have the world’s attention. After landing on the Mount of Olives, he will start to judge the world and - - best of all--- offer them atonement for their sins and reconciliation with God, if they would just “come under his wing”. They will come with fasting and prayer as they seek this new world ruler – coming soon!
Be sure to hear my sermon about the Day of Atonement.