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Tuesday, September 25 2012
"Fast," as the English word that refers to abstaining from eating (and usually drinking), originated from an Anglo-Saxon word, foest, which meant to hold firm 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). While many regard fasting as an unusual practice, or something that only "religious" people do, fasting is actually a natural daily occurrence for everyone (unless some health issue precludes safely fasting overnight) - the English word "breakfast" refers to breaking the fast after the many hours of a night's sleep.
In referring to longer periods of abstinence, "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 specifically 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 Who Is The LORD?] said unto Moses [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Moses], Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel [see also Israel In History and Prophecy: The New Covenant]. 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 was a purposeful lesson that those three men, Moses (representing God's Law of true Freedom; see The Yoke Of Freedom and The Constitution Of The Kingdom Of God), 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 The Church In The Kingdom Of God and What Is The Day Of The LORD?).
"17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother [see also What Did Peter and John See That Others Didn't?], 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, for the Day of Atonement, began as commanded by "the LORD God," Who was Jesus Christ: "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 (again, see Who Is The LORD?). It has been one of the true Christian Holy Days ever since (see Calendar of Christ's Holy Days).
"23:26 And the LORD 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 believers 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 [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Tabernacle], 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 (see also the Fact Finder question below).
"17:18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour [see The Healing Spirit].
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 [see Straight Street] 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)
Fact Finder: Why is "prayer and fasting" beneficial?
This Day In History, September 25
1066: The Battle of Stamford Bridge ended the last Viking invasion of England.
1396: At Nicopolis, the Ottomans under Sultan Bajazet inflicted a severe defeat on the Church of Rome "Crusaders" led by "John the Fearless" of Nevers and King Sigismund of Hungary (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy).
1513: Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa became the first known European to sight the Pacific Ocean. He claimed the entire Pacific Ocean, and all lands anywhere that were touched by it, for Spain.
1555: In Germany, the Peace of Augsburg was declared. It was the first effort by The Holy Roman Empire to allow Lutheranism (Protestantism) and Catholicism to exist together in the Holy Roman Empire (which by then was officially known as the Holy Roman Empire of The German Nation).
1629: The Truce of Altmark was signed. The 6 year peace settlement between Sweden and Poland ended the 1625-1629 phase of the Polish-Swedish War of Succession (1600-1660).
1644: Ole Romer was born. The Danish scientific researcher and astronomer was the first to accurately determine the speed of light - 186,000 miles per second. Light can travel around the entire earth 7 times in 1 second, or travel from the earth to the moon in just over 1 second. It takes light about 8 minutes to travel from the sun to the earth.
1726: The French-heritage Acadians of eastern Canada signed an English oath of allegiance on the condition they did not have to fight the French. Other Acadians left and went to the French colony of Louisiana, named after King Louis XIV of France, where "Acadian" became pronounced as "Cajun."
1818: The first human blood transfusion took place at a hospital in London, England.
1956: A transatlantic telephone cable between Britain and Canada was inaugurated with an exchange of greetings between London and Ottawa. Reaching from Oban, Scotland, to Clarenville, Newfoundland, the $42,000,000.00 cable consisted of 2 lines laid 30 kilometers apart on the ocean floor.
1996: Israeli troops and Palestinian security forces exchanged gunfire in Jerusalem and in other areas in Israel, set off by Palestinian opposition to an Israeli historical research tunnel dug in Jerusalem in the area of the Temple Mount (see David's Altar, Israel In History and Prophecy: The Temple and Raiders Of The Lost Ark). The confrontation was described as the heaviest fighting in Jerusalem since the area was captured by the Jews during the 1967 Six Day War (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah and A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).