The Pastor’s Quill
FASTING… Not So Fast!
By Pastor Tim Hodge
Jan 14, 2018
Judges 20:26–27 (NKJV)
“Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. (v27) So the children of Israel inquired of the Lord (the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days…).”
Last week, we embarked on this adventure of FASTING & PRAYER for 21 days. Also, last Sunday, I used the above passage. I pointed out some of the aspects that follow along with FASTING & PRAYER. We broke it down section by section and looked at: (1) ALL participated [fasting is inclusive – everyone can and should participate], (2) they met in the HOUSE OF GOD [there is a special anointing / power in the house of God], (3) there was WEEPING [this means mourning – ugly crying], and (4) they SAT before the Lord [they tarried all day].
Today, let’s pick up where they “FASTED that day until evening.” There are various types of fasting. Some types of fasting may include denying ourselves of certain foods and just eating fruits, vegetables, and juices. Some fasts will be a total abstinence of any intake of food and liquids for a certain period (for example morning through evening). Of this latter, if one is going to do it for more than a day or two then caution should be taken not to do literal physical harm to the body. Fasting is a self-renunciation (denying one’s self) of things we enjoy. In our passage, we see there was undoubtedly a total fast for the entire day, until that evening.
Fasting must be linked with prayer. Fasting without prayer is only dietary modification. Fasting linked with prayer is WORLD MODIFICATION (it can literally change the world – YOUR WORLD). Fasting and prayer moves situations that may have been unmovable.
Fasting takes discipline and commitment. Fasting magnifies the intensity of our requests before the throne of God. I want to remind you, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)!!! There is never a question as to the ability of God, but there is a question as to our level of desire in our petitions before the throne of God. Are we merely heaving up half-hearted requests? Or, are we eagerly approaching the altars of God to grab a hold and not let go until we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is already involved and moving in our requests?
The next phase of our passage shows yet another level: “They offered burnt offerings and peace offerings BEFORE the Lord.” Without getting too in depth in describing these two offerings, let me suffice it to say that ANIMALS HAD TO DIE in this process. Hold on, let’s pause here just a moment. Have you ever killed an animal? Have you heard it screaming in terror and writhing in pain as life was leaving its body? We’re not just talking some little stray animal either. These were animals – cows, sheep, goats, oxen – that most of these people had helped in the birthing process and raised. They had names. They had history. The kids and grandkids had played with them as babies. Now, imagine gripping it tight and holding on as the priest slides the knife through its throat. It looks at you with terror in its eyes. For all its life, you’ve been its benefactor: feeding it, protecting it from the elements, nurturing it when it is sick. Now you are killing it. The animal’s heart is crushed; as is yours. You’re weeping. You’re broken, but this SACRIFICE had to be made.
God the Father watched His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior die on the cross as our sacrifice. The Father’s heart was crushed as He looked away from the agonizing pains of death and Jesus cried out, “My God, my God! Why have You forsaken me?”
If something isn’t dying then there is no sacrifice being made. Sacrifice is NOT pretty. It’s bloody and messy and agonizing. Sacrifice is part of the birthing of the new. Something has to die before resurrection power can be experienced.
Finally, the scripture passage culminates in this: THEY INQUIRED OF THE LORD. This terminology may seem confusing. They INQUIRED seeking direction, but this Hebrew word in the original passage also carries the connotation of making faith-filled requests. All the participation, the gathering in the house of God, the weeping, the sitting before the Lord and waiting on Him, the whole day of fasting, the physical and emotional toils of making the sacrifices – ALL OF THAT – to get to this point: TO INQUIRE OF THE LORD. Lord, what is Your will?
Our story ends with God giving Israel a resounding victory. After two previous days of battle where tens of thousands of their people had died, this third day would be different. They had BREAKTHROUGH. God has NOT changed. He is STILL the God of B-R-E-A-K-T-H-R-O-U-G-H!!!!!