Zechariah 8:19 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”
At first glance, you would think fasting is a beautiful thing because its fruit is joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts. But the affliction of the body is used to bring about the fruit through denial of the temporal.
The way to accept fasting is in the final part of the passage, to love the truth and peace.
It is simply found in the Word of God.
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus is the truth. But, they didn’t know that back in Zechariah’s day. They did know that God’s Word was that truth. It was for their life.
Deuteronomy 8:3 “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”
We do not hear about fasting much these days. Can we allow ourselves to go hungry to seek a higher good? God desires that we would.
In the times I have fasted, I struggled with the flesh and the desire to eat on the first day. The second day, I fought with my soul’s challenge; my mind, will, and emotions.
Some time amidst the third day, I would feel a particular surge of energy and clarity of mind. The body detoxified, the heart in subjection and free of earthly wants, I began to feel closer to God in a real way.
Fasting can be used in so many ways. Biblically, we need to get back to the affliction of our soul to draw us closer, to make our minds more precise, and our bodies in subjection. It can be a training exercise of the will.
It is a challenge of the flesh to be in control instead of our flesh controlling us.
We like to be in control. We want our sin and the ability to control the consequences of our sin. There is a guiding principle to follow.
“We lose our freedom to choose when we have given in to temptation. Our consequences are inevitable, incalculable, and up to God.”
When we cross the threshold into sin, we subject ourselves to the consequences of our choices. When we desire to limit the effects, it is almost like saying we want ‘safe sin.’
The action to take for every child of God is to love truth and peace. Solomon summed it up for us:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
On this Sabbath day, it is good for us to meditate on what we will do this week to follow God’s command. It may be that fasting can aid us in gaining the necessary control over our fleshly desires.
Using the goal of joy, gladness, and cheerful celebrations, we can set our sights on that which pleases God.