But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (Matthew 6:17-18 NASB)
Fasting, you see, is a demonstration of humility. It is humbling ones self before God. It says my needs are in subjection to you, and until I receive your favor, I will not satisfy myself.
Jesus said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)
One of the clearest examples of this type of fasting occurs in the book of Jonah.
You probably know the story of Jonah the renowned prophet of Israel who was given the task of taking God’s word to Israel’s greatest enemy, Nineveh.
Nineveh was probably the most wicked civilization that ever existed. They were brutal to their enemies, and not so great to their friends.
Skipping all the drama between Johan and God (see Jonah 1 & 2) Jonah ends up in Nineveh with a ghostly pallor. He marches himself through the city declaring the Word of the Lord to his enemies.
It was a 3 day walk from one end of the city to the other, and Jonah set out declaring God’s judgment on that great city.
“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4 NASB)
Pretty straight forward if you ask me.
Check out the reaction of Nineveh. It is pretty impressive.
Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.
When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. And he issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?” (Jonah 3:5-9 NASB)
When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. (Jonah 3:10 NASB)
I want to reiterate that we can not earn favor with God. Our fasting does not actually earn points, but it can break the stronghold of wickedness on our lives.
It is as if we are saying to God, I am all in.
Do you struggle with a besetting sin that you just cannot get past. It drags you down, and you go back and repent, and feel week and broken, and the next thing you know you are there again?
This might be just the key you need to break through the stronghold that thing has in your life. It will not earn you forgiveness, Jesus already paid for that, and gave it freely. But it might just help you access the amazing power of the cross to bring victory into your life.
See you tomorrow