To date, I was directed by the Lord to principles in 3 fasts – the 7, 21 and 40 day, 40 year and 3 year. A 40 day fast is a serious fast and is not to entered into lightly (like marriage). It was conducted by Moses when he went up into Mount Sinai to receive the law then later when he returned to intercede for the sins of Israel in making the golden calf (Deut 9: 18,25; 10:10). He did not eat or drink on either of these 2 fasts. In other words, once he received the law, that was it. he had to concentrate and could not be distracted by eating. The second was a time of desperation because he did not want God to destroy Israel and suffer embarrassment (or so he thought) of destroying the Israelites who He had brought out of Egypt by a mighty hand. This fast was so powerful that God hearkened to Moses’ intercessions on the behalf of the children of Israel. A fast is a type of hunger strike and maybe God did not want Moses to die fasting – this was day 80 after all! This mighty prophet of God had stamina. Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness and did not eat (Lk 4). He could have eaten, but He did not want to take chances wit the devil because His mission was too important. Israel fasted 40 years in the wilderness because God changed their diet from the bread and flesh pots of Egypt (Ex 16:3), wine and strong drink that they had become accustomed to (Deut 29: 6). Although God had let them wander because of their unbelief, he was gracious enough to allow them to eat angel’s food (Ps 78: 25) and to rest on the 7th day of the fast (an important principle to observe while fasting). This was to their benefit, because a 40 day fast is a GIANT DESTROYING FAST. The Israelites (who had no military training except that God claimed them as His armies to wipe out the heathen) had to take on divine strategies, strength and boldness to fight the giants in the land, such as Og the King of Bashan who was particularly harassing. Therefore, when Jesus condensed the 40 years to a proportionate 40 day period, He was preparing for the ministry as well as the eventual fight which He would need to have with the giant satan when he died. We will give more detail on this as well as the significance of the principle of Bible time – if 40 years = 40 days proportionally/how much is a time, a time and a half? Israel’s 40 year (can any of us do this?) fast in the wilderness was done to teach us that a 40 day fast means that this is the one fast that will accomplish the major victory that we need. When we fight this giant, this is it for him! We’re not coming back to this issue again! This stronghold must be broken when the show down takes place! For three years, Daniel and his 3 friends fasted from the polluted food of Babylon (meat and wine – Dan 1: 5-8) and ate pulse or vegetables and water instead (Dan 1: 10). This is a serious principle and took them back to God’s original diet and earned the 3 teens great favor with God. As a man, Daniel chastened his soul for 21 days, according to the angel (Dan 10:12) when he ate no pleasant bread, flesh or wine and did not anoint his head (Dan 10: 3). He was therefore following the principles set out by God when Israel fasted in the wilderness. The purpose of the fast in this context was to bring a nation out of captivity and spiritual backsliding. Was his 21 day fast less effective than the 40 day fast? The principles of fasting are hidden in Israel’s fast in the wilderness and in Daniel’s fast. The first is to eat no pleasant bread such as pastries, pies, puddings, garlic bread. Most likely he ate unleavened bread, which was the Israelites’ diet until they ran out of food in the wilderness. In essence, they were fasting from the night of the Passover. One should not drink wine while fasting (this is straightforward – get highs or get drunk with the Spirit instead). Symbolically, wine could also relate to things that make you glad, such as sports, movies, magazines, books, hobbies etc. One has to show God that one is setting one’s face to seek His face and is not becoming distracted. This is putting away childish things and becoming a man in God. Daniel and the children of Israel ate no meat. Meat is meat – no MacDonalds, BBQs, buffalo wings, fish etc, even for vegetarians. Daniel did not anoint his head. This was a matter of luxury. See how Esther prepared for the beauty contest in Esther 2. One should chasten the soul by avoiding extra, unnecessary beauty treatments as far as possible like the spas, manicures, pedicures (go natural). These are the things of the outward appearance whereas God is calling for the focus to be on the hidden man of the heart as in 1 Peter 3: 3-5. In the same way that a physical fast cleanses the body of impurities, the spirit is being cleansed of impurities and becoming more open to God. It seems that a fast takes the individual back to the original state of man before the fall when he ate only living things (plants). One has to be careful about one’s conduct as well as motives during fasting. If a child does wrong, he/she would appear to be penitent. Motive is important because God will not answer. David fasted 7 days on his face and ate no food in order to save the life of the child he had by an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, but the child died. Although he had repented of his sin, God did not want to perpetuate this terrible example. Do you know how much influence David has/had?! (2 Sam 12). In Isaiah 58: 3, God complained to Isaiah that Israel was fasting for the wrong reasons. They found pleasure (had all their regular fun) and exacted all their labors during their fasts. They did not give Him even a tithe of time. They were bowing the head, putting on sackcloth and ashes and sitting on these garments. They were not penitent even though they looked penitent! They were fasting for their own self interests such as praying to get the better of other people (in order to smite with the hand of wickedness/witchcraft) and in order to win arguments (Isa 58:4). God wanted them to fast for 8 items in order to loose bands of wickedness (like Jesus did in His death), undo heavy burdens, free the oppressed, break yokes. They were to give their food away, house the poor, clothe the naked and love their people (Isa 58: 6-14). The benefits of the fast in verses 8 – 14 are more than double for the trouble. God will multiply the blessings to the person who fasts with the correct attitude and conduct. Dr Jordan Rubin and other excellent authors are authorities on the health benefits of fasting. The Lord says that people on special diets or those with special health conditions such as diabetes should adhere to the diet but pay special attention to applying the principles in other areas especailly those that He required of Israel by Isaiah (chap 58) and your blessing will come. You should discuss dietary modification if you so desire with your health care provider. Blessings.
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