At the end of this blog, you will find a list of around 20 different fasts mentioned in the Bible and the purpose and outcome of these. We learn what not to do while fasting from Yeshua:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do…
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)
Fasting is a topic at times that people are not too interested in. A chocolate cake recipe, aw, that’s more our style. Many times, it seems very strange to go without food and especially without both food and water. Are there clues in scripture that can help us know when to fast and how to fast?
“Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (I Cor. 3:16-17).
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of Heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything since he himself gives to all men life, and breadth, and everything…” (Acts 17:24-25).
We have a temple that needs to be standing and coming together, but it’s not made of stones, and Solomon and Herod are not architects or builders. Our temple may look dry, like dead bones, but can you see those bones taking on flesh and coming together? I can, and one day we will be dressed and unified–a great army. We are living stones. “… .You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah).” (I Peter 2:5).
When the Elders came to Ezekiel during the fast in the 5th month, the Father answered with a question.
“In the seventh year, on the tenth day of the fifth month, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and they sat down before me. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and tell them that this is what the Lord GOD says: Have you come to inquire of Me? As surely as I live, I will not be consulted by you, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 20:1-3).
He then tells them of a sharp polished sword that is coming and how He will destroy both the righteous and the wicked. Read chapters 19-22 for more on what may be in store for our nation, America. The Elders came in the seventh year of Jeconiah’s captivity and Zedekiah’s reign, two years and five months before Nebuchadnezzar did besiege Jerusalem.
In Ezra 3, we see the temple being rebuilt, the foundation poured, and the priest and people are coming together with shouts of joy! Then when we read Zechariah 7, the people who have been fasting in the fifth month and weeping over the golden calf, the bad report from the spies, the death of Aaron the high priest, the breach in the walls, and the destruction of the temple, now have a very important question. “Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech, along with their men, to plead before the LORD by asking the priests of the house of the LORD of Hosts, as well as the prophets, “Should I weep and fast in the fifth month, as I have done these many years?” (Zechariah 7:2-3).
They have been fasting yearly and weeping. But we just read in Ezra, how they now had great joy—well, not all of them.
“And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes. At the same time, many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.” (Ezra 3:11-13).
They could not distinguish the sound of joy from weeping—think about this.
When we read Haggai, we get a clearer picture. Many had seen the former house and all its glory. They had witnessed the disasters and spent their younger years in exile. Seventy years have passed. The rebuilding and foundation did not look as grandiose in their aged eyes, but Abba tells them not to despise the day of small things. He says, “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and in this place, I will give peace,’ declares the LORD of hosts.” (Hag. 2:9).
We are His House and walls, and yes, we lack unity and maturity without the building blocks of the five-fold in place but listen to how the Father answers them when they ask if they should continue their fasting in the 5th month. Is there a better way to fast and celebrate His feasts?
“Then the word of the LORD of Hosts came to me, saying, “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for these seventy years, was it really for Me that you fasted? And when you were eating and drinking, were you not doing so simply for yourselves? Are these not the words that the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were populous and prosperous, and the Negev and the foothills were inhabited?'” Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, “This is what the LORD of Hosts says: ‘Administer true justice. Show loving devotion and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. And do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.'” (Zec. 7:4-8)
Verse 9 explains that they refused to pay attention and keep His Torah.
In chapter 8 of Zechariah, He confirms His Word. “Then the word of the LORD of Hosts came to me, saying, “This is what the LORD of Hosts says: The fasts of the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, and the tenth months will become times of joy and gladness, cheerful feasts for the house of Judah. Therefore you are to love both truth and peace.” (Zech. 8:18-19).
The Father is telling them that these will become joyful. We know there is a time for everything under the heavens. I feel led to fast for our nation, Israel, my children/family, and to pray for leadership. We can fast whenever we feel the urge from the Father. We can fast as long as we want, according to our health or desire. We can fast in secret and also as a Body, and we can all strive to keep Isaiah 58.
When we read about the true fast of Isaiah, we learn that many times we can fast and yet not be pleasing to the Father, so we need to ask ourselves what we are fasting for.
“Behold, on the day of your fast, you do as you please, and you oppress all your workers. You fast with contention and strife to strike viciously with your fist. You cannot fast as you do today and have your voice be heard on high. Is this the fast I have chosen: a day for a man to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the LORD? Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen: to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and tear off every yoke? Isn’t it to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your home, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will come quickly.” (Isaiah 58:3-8).
I wanted to post about several fast mentioned throughout scripture and give examples of why people fasted and how they fasted. This is not in any order, but I pray you will glean from it.
A-List of Fast—reasons for:
Destruction: “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire. When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:3-4).
The Father hears his cries and brings change and the funds to start work on rebuilding due to his fasting and cries. When Nehemiah began to rebuild the walls, he was met with mockery and disdain, but he and the people continued to build with a weapon in one hand. Our nation America has broken down walls and much bloodshed, baseless hatred, and discord. We, too, can cry out for our nation, America.
Death: After the news of Saul and Jonathan being slain in battle, David calls for a fast. “Then David took hold of his own clothes and tore them, and all the men who were with him did the same. They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the people of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” (I Sam. 1:11-12).
Ministry: “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod, the tetrarch), and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” And after they had fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:1-3). They teamed up the apostle with the prophet, for Barnabus was a prophet. If you are unsure of who the five-fold of leadership is among you, fast and pray and get direction for leadership, just as Yeshua prayed before he selected the 12.
Appointing leadership: “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church, praying and fasting as they entrusted them to the Lord, in whom they had believed.” (Acts 14:23).
Fasting during Pesach/ Passover-– Daniel prayed three times a day and fasted during Pesach: “In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three full weeks. I ate no rich food, no meat or wine entered my mouth, and I did not anoint myself with oil until the three weeks were completed.” (Dan. 10:3-4). These three weeks refer to the observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
“I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” (Daniel 9:2-3)
(Haman was hanged on the second day of the Passover feast (Esth. R. and Meg. l.c.). The king’s insomnia occurs on Pesach night, with Haman hung on its second day.
To spare from death: Esther calls for a fast. “Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go into the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.” (Esther 4:16-17).
Returning with all our hearts: “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning.” (Joel 2:12).
Waiting for the Messiah—To see His Face! “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers.” (Luke 2:36-37).
Fasting for zeal–David is mocked for fasting: “For I have endured scorn for Your sake, and shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and a foreigner to my mother’s sons, because zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult You have fallen on me. I wept and fasted, but it brought me reproach. I made sackcloth my clothing, and I was sport to them. Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of drunkards. But my prayer to You, O LORD, is for a time of favor.” (Psalm 69:7-13).
Fasting for sick friends: They repay me evil for good, To the bereavement of my soul. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.” (Psalm 35:12-13).
For the nation: “So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed, “O, Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of loving devotion to those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have acted wickedly and rebelled. We have turned away from Your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to Your servants, the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, leaders, and fathers, and to all the people of the land.
To You, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, and all Israel near and far, in all the countries to which You have driven us because of our unfaithfulness to You. O LORD, we are covered with shame—our kings, our leaders, and our fathers—because we have sinned against You.” (Daniel 9:4-8).
Fasting during famine and locust: “If I close the sky, so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:13-14).
Fasting for our children that they would not be spiritually dead: “Then the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David, so that he was very sick. David, therefore, inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. (II Sam. 12:15-17).
Evil Kings fasted and were met with compassion: “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife incited him. He acted very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the sons of Israel.
“It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. Then, the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.” (I kings 21:25-29).
During temptation: “Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He was hungry.” (Luke 2:1-2).
Fasting for protection: “And thereby the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. For I was ashamed to ask the king for an escort of soldiers and horsemen to protect us from our enemies on the road, since we had told him, “The hand of our God is gracious to all who seek Him, but His great anger is against all who forsake Him. So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He granted our request.” (Ezra 8:21-22).
The Day of Atonement: This is the holiest day of the year and the day that only the High Priest could go behind the veil and make atonement for the people. Our High Priest, Yeshua, offered true atonement by His blood, and the veil was torn in half. We fast together as a Body with no food or drink and afflict ourselves, repenting of anything we may need to ask forgiveness of for the previous year, and we also recognize and acknowledge that Yeshua Messiah is our High Priest.
“Again, the LORD said to Moses, The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. You shall hold a sacred assembly and humble yourselves, and present an offering made by fire to the LORD. On this day, you are not to do any work, for it is the Day of Atonement when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. If anyone does not humble himself on this day, he must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on this day.
You are not to do any work at all. This is a permanent statute for the generations to come, wherever you live. It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall humble your souls. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening, you are to keep your Sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:27-32).
And let us not forget that after Pesach/ Passover, we fast bread during the Feast of Unleavened bread when we eat matzah, a cracker with no yeast and is marked with stripes like Yeshua’s Body at death. “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ, our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:6-8, NASB).