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Just dropping by ... The Fast of the Lord

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 06 May 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak, there are many advocating fasting as a solution to the problem. What could going without food have to do with stopping the spread of the virus?

To be clear, I’m not talking about the current fad taking over the diet world – intermittent fasting. Advocates of the diet are heralding the benefits of fasting on both the body and the mind. According to healthline, “Intermittent fasting changes the functions of the cell, genes and hormones, can help you lose weight and belly fat, reduce insulin resistance, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, and may be beneficial for heart health.

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It induces various cellular repair processes and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease while helping you live longer.” Whether these benefits are real or another advertisement scheme to sell books and promote products is uncertain, but the Lord has, for centuries, promoted fasting for another reason and has promised that those who fast for the right reason and in the right way will receive benefits that far exceed the enhancement of health.

In Biblical times, the Jews had departed from the commandments the Lord had given Moses. The Lord commanded Isaiah to call them to repentance: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1 KJV).

The Jews saw no need for repentance. They were fasting, sometimes to the excess, but they were fasting to show how righteous they were and to gain power over their adversaries. They asked, “‘Wherefore have we fasted … and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?’” (Isaiah 58:3 KJV). They blamed the Lord for not heeding their fasts. They thought their prayers had not been answered.

The Lord chastened them for fasting for “strife” and “debate, and “to smite with the fist of wickedness” and tells them “ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high” (Isaiah 58:4 KJV). In plain language, the Lord would not listen and respond to their kind of fasting. He explains what kind of fast He expects from them. It is not a day “for a man to afflict his soul … (and) bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him” (Isaiah 58:5 KJV). In other words, it is not a time to go without food and be miserable all day. There are better reasons for going without food.

A true fast is designed to “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6 KJV). The fast, if done the Lord’s way, will break addictions, cure financial bondage, heal broken families and spare nations from disaster. It will bring peace in times of war and will soften hearts to the plight of the poor.

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A proper fast isn’t just going without food for a time. “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:7 KJV).

A worldly fast is only a fad diet of abstinence, especially if we are concerned only with ourselves. We may lose weight from that kind of fast, but the other great blessings of fasting will be lost. When we fast and allow ourselves to think of others, we realize that there are people in the world who feel hunger every day. They are not just in third-world countries; they are often our next-door neighbor. In our hungry condition, we may feel a need to reach out to them with compassion. We can give to a local charity or find someone to bless with our own plenty. That is what the Lord sees as a true fast.

Then come the blessings of the fast. “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward” (Isaiah 58:8 KJV). The Lord will fill our souls with light and happiness as bright as the morning sun after a dark night. Our health will come to us speedily, we will be known as a righteous people, and the Lord will be our guard.

Not only that, He promises in Isaiah 58:9-12 KJV, “Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” There is a quid pro quo.

“If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity.” We must put away our pride and stop pointing fingers of scorn at our neighbors. “And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day.” If we satisfy the afflicted soul, which could be our own, through prayer, then our light, or our mind, will be as bright as the noonday sun.

“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” The Lord will be our guide, and our health and prosperity will be as a garden with plenty of water. “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” The Lord will help us fix what is broken in our lives and our country. He will save our land and freedoms for future generations. He will restore traditions that bring happiness and peace.

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There is another rule for a true fast that will bring promises. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isaiah 58:13 KJV). In short, the Sabbath day must once again become sacred. We must stop doing the things that bring our own pleasure on His holy day and commence doing the things that will please Him.

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:14 KJV). The Lord’s promises are sure. As we fast in His way, we will find that He will keep His commitments and will make our lives much better than we can make for ourselves.

With the advent of COVID-19, the world changed. Social distancing has made us more cautious. Cleanliness has become more important, and we are led to wonder more about the health and safety of our neighbors, but have we learned more about God and our relationship to Him? Have we turned out hearts to Him in the manner He expects? Are we like the ancient Jews, who expect Him to answer every whim or garish desire without following His commandments?

The Lord expects fasting and prayer to be a sacrifice of humility and charity. Why? He wants us to be aware of the needs of others. He wants unity, a Zion people, not a people who seek their own individual aggrandizement or entertainment. He wants one people under God. He hopes that we “may all be one” (John 17:21-23 KJV). He cannot make a Zion people with the world’s form of intermittent fasting to lose weight. He has prescribed the law of the fast to be done in a certain way for certain specific reasons. He is our Father and He wants the best for us.

He has promised, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV). If we feel that our land, our homes, our hearts still need healing, we have been given the prescription. We can’t do it any other way. We must hearken to the words of Isaiah and the Lord’s prophets and give the Lord His fast.  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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