When we keep the Day of Atonement, we normally fast. Why? And if you do, is your fasting effective – OR is it honestly just a day of feeling hungry, thirsty and probably headachy without your morning coffee?
And am I the only one who 12 minutes after we can’t eat or drink for 24 hours – gets this overwhelmingly strong, strong craving desire that I just have to have a drink or a snack. Am I the only one?
We’re told to “afflict your souls” on the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:27, 32). But nowhere do I know that we’re commanded to fast, at least in plain English or plain Hebrew, but we do. And I do. I do have a sermon about the meaning of this day on this website, but what about the fasting?
It goes back to God’s call to make this a day when we “afflict” our souls and do no work.
Leviticus 16:29 and 31 say “you shall afflict your souls…”
This theme is repeated in Lev 23:27, 32 and Numbers 29:7.
This phrase “afflict your souls” is widely understood to mean fasting.
The Day of Atonement was commonly called “the Fast” – and Paul says when they sailed, it was dangerous, it was late in the season for sailing, “because the Fast was already over…” Acts 27:9. The Fast was synonymous with Yom Kippur/Atonement.
So “afflict your souls” was understood to mean one should fast. David said he afflicted and humbled his soul with fasting (Psalm 35:13; 69:10)
Psalm 35:13 -- David says he even fasted for those who were against him. “I humbled my soul with fasting”. In Psalm 69:10 he chastened his soul with fasting. David tells us that sometimes we have to wake up and deal seriously with issues in our lives.
During times when people were diligently seeking after God, and repenting, it was common to fast as a symbol you were serious about this and to use the time of preparing and eating the meals to be time to do extra diligent praying. Oftentimes people would dedicate an entire day or more to just fasting and prayer.
When was the last time you and I fasted for at least 24 hours - besides the commanded Day of Atonement?
*** The apostle Paul said he was in “fastings often” (2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27).
*** Anna the prophetess “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37) and God rewarded her diligence.
People in the Bible equated fasting with deep repentance and seeking after God; seeking a closer walk with our Maker.
For example, when Daniel was personally repenting for himself and the nation, he fasted (Daniel 9:3). He says he was intent on seeking YHVH God “by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes”. You can read his heart-rending prayer in the rest of Daniel 9. But during all that time he was fasting.
When was the last time you and I fasted for someone suffering with cancer, severe pain, or other severe trials? I would say we should be fasting at least once a month or more – and yes, I preach to myself too. I want to commit to that in the coming year myself.
Click on “Continue reading” to finish the rest of this lesson. Learn about what the Ninevites did, and the main chapter all about fasting, and how we can make this day of fasting result in meaningful changes in our lives.