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Thursday, October 6 2011
The Biblical History Of Christian Fasting
The English word "fast," in referring to abstaining from eating (and usually drinking), originated from an old Anglo-Saxon word, foest, which meant to hold firm i.e. against eating (the English "hold fast" and "fasten" originated from the same original word, which produced other terms, such as "steadfast" which is merely another pronunciation of stand fast). Fasting is a natural daily occurrence (unless some health issue precludes safely fasting) e.g. the English word "breakfast" refers to breaking the fast after the many hours of a night's sleep.
"Fast" is used to translate the Hebrew word of the Old Testament, pronounced tsoom, which literally means to cover the mouth, as in to fast. In the New Testament, "fast" is used to translate the Greek word, pronounced nace-tyoo-oh, which means to abstain from food.
The longest fasts recorded in the Holy Scriptures were the miraculously-enabled (such long fasts would have been fatal otherwise) forty-day fasts of Moses, Elijah and the Messiah.
"34:27 And the LORD [see also The Mount Sinai Prophecy] said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments." (Exodus 34:27-28 KJV)
It's no coincidence that those three men, Moses (representing God's Law of true Freedom; see The Yoke Of Freedom), Elijah (representing the prophets; see The Prophets: What Is A Prophet?) and the Messiah (Who unified the Law and the prophets in Him; see The Feast Of Trumpets Prophecy) also appeared together in the "transfiguration" - a prophetic vision of the future Kingdom of God (see Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff and What Will Heaven Be Like?).
"17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
"It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"
The most well-known fast of Bible History began as commanded by "the LORD God" (Who was Jesus Christ i.e. "10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 KJV) to The First Christian Church after the Exodus. It has been one of the true Christian Holy Days ever since (see the Fact Finder question below).
"23:26 And the LORD [see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'] spake unto Moses, saying, 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 23:28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
The people of the LORD chose to occasionally fast for other reasons as well, usually during times of tribulation.
"20:26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD." (Judges 20:26 KJV)
The Messiah taught fasting, including prayer and fasting on occasion.
"17:18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
As with so many other things, the religious "authorities" of that time perverted right things of the LORD into their own ideas of religion. The Messiah rebuked and condemned such self-righteous hypocrisy (see Religious Parties and Is Your Church A Cult?). Notice that Christ didn't say not to fast; He said don't fast like a for-show hypocrite.
"6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6:17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:16-18 KJV)
The "New Testament" Church occasionally fasted in the same way, and for the same reasons, that God's true people always have (keeping in mind that those with health issues that prevent safe and healthy fasting should not fast).
"13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 13:4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus." (Acts 13:1-4 KJV)
This Day In History, October 6
101: The Battle of Arausio. Germanic tribes (Cimbri and Teutoni) defeated a Roman army in what is today southern France.
1014: The Byzantine Emperor Basil earned the title "Slayer of Bulgers" after he ordered the blinding of 15,000 Bulgerian troops.
1520: German reformer Martin Luther published "Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church," his famous writing which attacked the entire sacramental system of the Catholic Church.
1536: William Tyndale was burned at the stake as a heretic near Brussels, Belgium. The 42 year old English Protestant reformer was a Bible translator and associate of Martin Luther.
1866: Inventor Reginald Aubrey Fessendon, sometimes described as "the genius Canada forgot," was born, near East Bolton, Quebec. His most important invention was the wireless telephone, which preceded modern radio. He also invented the first wireless compass and the fathometer.
1908: Bosnia and Herzegovina were annexed by Austria.
1928: Chiang Kai-Shek became president of the Republic of China.
1949: "Tokyo Rose," Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who broadcast Japanese propaganda to U.S. forces in the Pacific during Second World War, was sentenced in San Francisco to 10 years in prison and a $10,000. fine on treason charges.
1955: The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) became officially sovereign by agreement with the Soviet Union.
1973: Israel's Yom Kippur War began. On the Day of Atonement, Egypt (under Anwar Sadat) attacked Israeli southern positions on the east bank of the Suez while Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian forces simultaneously attacked Israeli northern positions on the Golan heights. Although early Arab success was soon slowed by fierce resistance by Israeli troops, U.S. President Richard Nixon, concerned that Israel would use its nuclear weapons, ordered an immediate emergency airlift of U.S. weapons to Israel. Despite winning the fourth major Israeli-Arab conflict since 1948, the cost to Israel was very high - 5,500 dead or wounded, 800 tanks lost.
1978: Ayatollah Khomeini, a fanatical Iranian religious leader opposed to the Shah, was granted asylum in France after being expelled from Iran. Khomeini later returned to become Iran's hardline leader when the Shah was overthrown and was himself expelled from Iran. Khomeini claimed that the Shah of Iran was merely a U.S. puppet and that most U.S. diplomats in Iran were CIA agents - claims that fueled the Iranian revolution, which included the takeover of the U.S. Embassy and "the hostage crisis." Some of Khomeini's claims were however later proven true from physical evidence and documents (the Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, many years later, by his own admission, was also discovered to be assisting the CIA in Iran during the hostage crisis - Taylor helped some of the U.S. "diplomats" after the Iranian takeover of the U.S. Embassy by giving them secret refuge in the Canadian Embassy and then providing them with false Canadian passports so that they could escape out of Iran, in what was later called "the Canadian Caper").
1981: President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was assassinated at age 63 by 4 Egyptian soldiers who suddenly broke from a military parade and opened fire on the Presidential reviewing stand. Anwar Sadat had been a signer of the Camp David Peace Accord with Israel in 1978 for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
1986: A crippled Soviet nuclear submarine sank in the Atlantic Ocean about 2,000 km. east of New York after a fire and explosion aboard the sub 3 days earlier.
1995: Astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland announced the discovery of a planet orbiting 51 Pegasi, the first planet discovered orbiting a solar-type star.