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A Theology of Fasting - Tim Conway

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    Our church is designating this week
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    as just a week where
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    we are going to give ourselves
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    to seeking the Lord in a special way.
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    Often times, we call it a
    week of prayer and fasting.
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    Not that everybody in
    the whole church fasts
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    for an entire eight days.
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    But during that time, what we want to do
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    is encourage the folks in
    the church to fast.
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    Meals, days, and often times,
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    when I am encouraging
    the church and others,
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    we're encouraging the church
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    to give ourselves to this,
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    inevitably, somebody asks -
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    (You asked, right?)
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    Inevitably, somebody asks:
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    What about fasting?
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    How often?
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    This is not useless at all -
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    I mean laying hold on
    the Lord like this is not.
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    He has heard our prayers
    again and again and again.
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    We do this, not out of ritual,
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    not out of just tradition.
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    We do this because we
    lay hold upon the Lord
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    in a special way and the Lord answers.
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    The Lord has blessed us
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    with so many answers to
    our prayers through the years.
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    He is a God who hears prayer
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    and He has vindicated Himself
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    as that kind of God repeatedly.
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    We talk about fasting.
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    I get questions on a
    pretty much quarterly basis.
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    Every three months, we
    try to set aside a week
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    where we give ourselves
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    to some very special praying,
    fasting, seeking the Lord.
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    When I use the term fast,
    questions come up.
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    What is it?
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    What do we fast from?
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    How often?
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    Are you talking about
    fasting for an entire week?
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    What are you talking about here?
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    How often? What should be the frequency?
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    So what I thought I would do tonight,
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    I think this is a very healthy study,
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    just by way of remembrance.
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    What I want us to do
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    is to just do a topical study tonight
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    on this theme of fasting.
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    Let's look at what Scriptures says.
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    So what I want you to
    do is to go out of here
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    with a good feeling
    of what it's all about.
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    You are trying to think about,
    how often should I do it?
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    And by the way, just because
    we call special fasting weeks,
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    doesn't mean that Christians
    can't fast all the time.
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    They can fast on a regular basis.
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    It is not like it is mandatory
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    and legalistically we're forcing
    everybody to do this.
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    If somebody didn't fast
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    during our week of prayer and fasting,
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    certainly there is no crime in that.
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    But we just want to encourage it.
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    For the sake of unity, have the church
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    really beseeching the Lord
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    in a special way all at one time.
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    When you were out of here today,
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    I really want you to
    have a feel for this,
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    maybe more than you had when you came in.
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    What's the significance of it?
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    And how often should we do it?
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    And if the church calls a time
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    of special prayer and fasting,
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    should I fast for a meal?
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    Should I fast for a day?
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    Should I try to fast for
    three consecutive days?
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    Or seven consecutive days?
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    I mean, what is this?
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    For one, when we talk about fasting,
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    you know what I am talking about.
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    I am talking about abstaining from food
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    as prescribed in our Bibles.
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    And I know that people who
    don't hold to the Bible fast.
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    People fast for health reasons.
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    People in other religions fast.
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    And I am not talking about
    fasting just in a generic way.
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    I am talking about fasting
    as it's found in Scripture.
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    I am talking about
    God-prescribed fasting.
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    What does it look like?
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    You know, in the New Testament,
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    it is not like there are huge amounts
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    of verses that we can go to.
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    There's a couple of handfuls.
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    So let's look at them.
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    Look at Matthew 4:2.
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    What I want to do is just go through
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    a number of these verses
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    from the New Testament
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    and just see what we can glean from them
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    just in a casual reading.
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    The purpose for this
    is a theology of fasting.
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    That's what we can call
    the message tonight:
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    "A Theology of Fasting."
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    What does God teach us?
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    What is the teaching of God on fasting?
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    So Matthew 4:2.
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    After I get done with these
    New Testament passages,
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    I want to look at one
    in the Old Testament,
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    which I think is very helpful.
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    Matthew 4:2.
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    Jesus - we know that
    our Lord Jesus Christ
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    fasted for how long?
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    Forty days.
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    Now look, as I was saying on Sunday,
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    you do not want to say:
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    Well, He was God. Or, He is God.
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    He is God.
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    I am not denying the deity of Christ.
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    But I am saying Jesus Christ
    fasting and his hunger
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    was the fasting and the
    hunger of a human being.
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    God becoming flesh.
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    God taking upon Himself,
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    robing Himself with mankind in a way,
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    in a manner in which He is like us
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    in every respect, save sin.
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    What I mean by that is his hunger
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    was just as real as yours.
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    And when He fasted,
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    His fasting affected Him
    just like yours does.
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    You know where I am going with that?
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    It's possible for you to fast
    for forty days and not die.
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    If you are not accustomed to fasting,
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    you may think one day
    and you are ready to die.
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    You may think you miss breakfast
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    and get about to three
    o'clock in the afternoon
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    missing lunch and you are ready to die.
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    There are people that feel that way.
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    You just feel like I can't do this.
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    Jesus Christ fasted for forty days.
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    I know two pastors that
    just in the last year
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    did forty day-fasts.
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    You can fast for forty days.
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    So if you're wanting to know
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    how long it is even safe?
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    I am not saying go without
    water for forty days.
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    We'll have another casket
    up here if you do that.
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    But you know, you can go
    forty days on water, you can.
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    You can go forty days on juice.
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    My point here is our Lord Jesus Christ
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    fasted for forty days as a man,
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    as one made like us in every respect.
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    I just point that out.
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    And by the way, our
    Lord was given to fasting.
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    He did it.
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    It was something that
    was part of His life.
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    At least here.
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    At least when He was being
    tempted by the devil.
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    We see that He fasted.
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    Now, let's go to Matthew 6.
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    Matthew 6 has one of the
    most important texts
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    on fasting in our Bible.
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    Because it is one of the two passages,
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    or one of the two incidents
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    where our Lord gives us instruction -
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    very specific instruction on fasting.
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    Of course, these different accounts
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    can be found in the
    different synoptic Gospels.
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    But we basically have two accounts.
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    We have His teaching
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    in the Sermon on the Mount
    here in Matthew 6
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    and then we have that occasion
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    where the disciples of John
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    and the disciples of the Pharisees
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    came and they asked Him -
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    the disciples of John
    and the Pharisees fast
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    and your disciples don't fast.
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    These two passages are Jesus's instruction
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    in the New Testament on fasting.
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    If you want to study the most
    important passages on this topic.
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    These are the ones you want to look at.
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    He teaches us some
    very valuable things here.
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    Matthew 6: 16.
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    This is often been said:
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    "When you fast..."
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    "And when you fast..." verse 16.
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    "When you fast..."
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    There is an assumption
    in the way He says that:
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    "When you fast."
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    When the Lord Jesus Christ looks at us
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    as His followers and He says,
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    "When you fast this is the
    way I want you to do it."
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    He's definitely implying that He
    believes that as followers of His,
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    this is something that is going
    to be characteristic of our lives.
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    "When you fast" doesn't
    mean you won't fast.
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    When you fast does not mean
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    that it is going to be
    something that as a Christian
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    that should be foreign to you.
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    "When you fast" means
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    I believe that My followers
    are going to fast.
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    In fact, His instruction as given
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    to these disciples of John
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    and these disciples of the Pharisees
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    who come to Him and ask Him.
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    We are going to get to
    that text in a few minutes.
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    He says, "They don't fast now
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    because I am here. I am with them.
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    But when I go, they will fast."
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    Jesus is saying My followers
    are going to fast.
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    He is not speaking specifically
    to His followers there.
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    Although indirectly He does.
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    Here He is, directly to us.
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    He is looking at His disciples.
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    And you remember.
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    He gathered,
    Sermon on the Mount.
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    He especially called
    out His disciples there
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    and He began to teach them.
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    There were crowds behind there.
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    He kind of have the inner group there.
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    And he would say to us: "When you fast..."
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    This is part of the Christian life.
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    "Do not look gloomy like the hypocrites."
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    Okay, He does not want us fasting
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    in a hypocritical manner.
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    In other words, He
    doesn't want us appearing
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    to be something that we are not.
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    He doesn't want fasting
    just to be seen by men.
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    He says: "They disfigure their faces
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    that their fasting may be seen by others.
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    Truly I say to you,
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    they have received their reward."
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    What's their reward?
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    Their reward is that they
    want to be seen by men
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    and get what they want.
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    They get seen by men.
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    They got what they wanted.
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    They didn't want anything more than that.
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    They fasted to be seen by men.
    They got seen by men.
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    Everything is good.
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    They got what they wanted.
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    "But when you fast, anoint your head
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    and wash your face."
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    This doesn't mean that nobody else
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    can ever know that you're fasting.
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    If they do, if they find out
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    then all of a sudden all
    your fasting is negated.
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    That's not what this means.
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    I mean, look, if you're married,
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    and your wife is
    cooking meals for you,
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    There's times when you need to
    communicate with people
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    that you're fasting.
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    I don't believe for us to have
    a week of prayer and fasting
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    where we kind of know
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    that there is a lot of the one anothers
    in the church that are doing this.
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    That's not what this is about.
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    It's got to do with motive here.
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    It's got to do with whether
    you're doing it to be seen.
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    Motives is the issue here.
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    They do it for a motive.
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    They have a reason.
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    The hypocrite wants to
    appear to be something.
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    You don't need to flaunt it.
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    When you fast, try to cover
    it up as much as possible.
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    But you're going to get into situations
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    where you may have to tell somebody
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    or you may have to make it
    apparent that you are doing that.
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    "When you fast, anoint your
    head and wash your face
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    that you fasting may
    not be seen by others
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    but by your Father who is in secret."
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    In other words, the
    reason that we're fasting
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    has to do with our Father
    who sees in secret.
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    When I fast, when you fast,
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    Jesus is assuming we will fast.
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    It is part of the Christian life.
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    What He is pointing out here
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    is you do this in a way,
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    not for the sake of men.
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    Not for them seeing you.
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    You do it because it's got something
    to do with God the Father.
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    In other words, when you fast,
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    there are implications that have to do
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    with your relationship with the Father.
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    You keep reading here.
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    "Your Father who sees
    in secret will reward you."
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    Now there is a textual issue here.
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    Some translations actually add "openly"
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    or "in the open," for everyone to see.
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    It is a textual issue.
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    Whether it is there or not,
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    It does not take away from the fact
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    that God is going to reward you.
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    In other words, we fast,
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    because there is a
    Fatherly reward in fasting.
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    There are benefits. I
    want you to see that.
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    Jesus is saying there is
    a spiritual benefit to fasting.
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    You need to see that.
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    This is not a vain exercise.
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    It's not like, oh,
    fasting - well that's neat,
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    you know, you tack it on our life.
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    We are not like the hypocrites.
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    You remember how Jesus tells us a story
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    about tax collector and the Pharisee
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    that go to the temple to pray?
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    You remember that story? Luke 18.
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    What is Jesus say about the Pharisee?
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    Well, he began to pray:
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    "God, I thank you I am not like other people
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    and I am not like this
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    and I am not like this
    tax collector over there.
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    I fast twice in the week."
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    Let me tell you this,
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    all fasting is not profitable.
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    But there is fasting that's profitable.
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    That's plain from Scripture.
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    There is fasting that
    doesn't do you any good.
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    There is the hypocrites here in Matthew 6.
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    All they get is seen by others.
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    That's the end of what they get.
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    (Incomplete thought)
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    You know what's not explicitly said,
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    but is definitely implied through here?
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    Faith.
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    Because you're doing this in secret,
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    which means you believe that God...
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    Remember how it says over in Hebrews 11?
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    We must believe that God is
    and that He's a rewarder.
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    That's what we have here.
    The Father rewarding.
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    He is a rewarder of them
    that seek Him diligently.
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    You know what fasting is?
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    It is one of the things that
    God has given to us;
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    one of the methods God
    has given to us of seeking Him.
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    It is turning away from
    the physical appetites
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    and seeking the Lord in special ways.
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    Turning away from gratifying
    that physical appetite
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    and seeking the Lord
    in a very special way.
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    That's what this is for: seeking the Lord.
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    Faith. You do this in secret.
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    You do this when nobody is watching.
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    Because you know God is watching.
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    You know the Father is watching.
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    You know He is there in secret.
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    And you're fasting because you're wanting
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    to lay hold on Him.
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    You want to seek Him.
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    Let us jump to Matthew 9 now
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    in the other account that
    I was telling you about
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    where you get the disciples.
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    Matthew tells us it is
    just disciples of John.
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    The three synoptics
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    kind of present the people
  • 16:53 - 16:56
    that are asking from
    different perspectives.
  • 16:56 - 16:59
    But in Matthew 9:14,
  • 16:59 - 17:03
    the disciples of John -
    this is John the Baptist -
  • 17:03 - 17:05
    they come to Him saying:
  • 17:05 - 17:09
    "Why do we and the Pharisees fast,
  • 17:09 - 17:11
    but your disciples do not fast?"
  • 17:11 - 17:14
    I guarantee
  • 17:14 - 17:17
    it is not a good thing
  • 17:17 - 17:20
    to be in one of the first two groups.
  • 17:20 - 17:23
    You know what? It was okay to
    be disciples of John at first.
  • 17:23 - 17:25
    But you do not want
    to stay a disciple of John.
  • 17:25 - 17:28
    You want to make that transition over
  • 17:28 - 17:31
    to being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • 17:31 - 17:33
    Why? These guys are out of touch.
  • 17:33 - 17:36
    These guys are out of touch
  • 17:36 - 17:38
    with what is happening in this world;
  • 17:38 - 17:39
    what is truly happening.
  • 17:39 - 17:42
    They're out of touch with
    the significance of Christ -
  • 17:42 - 17:44
    the fact the Messiah has come.
  • 17:44 - 17:46
    The Kingdom of God is at hand.
  • 17:46 - 17:49
    They are out of touch with that. Why?
  • 17:49 - 17:54
    Because, fasting as Jesus
    teaches us right here,
  • 17:54 - 18:02
    has everything to do with Him.
  • 18:02 - 18:06
    Notice. Jesus said to them in verse 15,
  • 18:06 - 18:10
    "Can the wedding guests mourn
  • 18:10 - 18:13
    as long as the bridegroom is with them?
  • 18:13 - 18:15
    The days will when the bridegroom
  • 18:15 - 18:18
    is taken away from them
    and then they will fast."
  • 18:18 - 18:21
    Here is what I want you to see.
  • 18:21 - 18:29
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 18:29 - 18:31
    Can the wedding guests mourn as long as
  • 18:31 - 18:33
    the bridegroom is with them?
  • 18:33 - 18:40
    You all see that. Matthew, mourn.
  • 18:40 - 18:45
    This exact account in Mark, chapter 2.
  • 18:45 - 18:47
    You do not have to turn over there.
  • 18:47 - 18:50
    But you know, it does not
    use the word mourn there.
  • 18:50 - 18:52
    You know what word it uses?
  • 18:52 - 18:55
    You know what word Mark uses? Fast.
  • 18:55 - 18:57
    Mark uses the word fast.
  • 18:57 - 19:02
    Let me just read the Mark
    account - Mark 2:18-20.
  • 19:02 - 19:06
    "Now John disciples and
    the Pharisees were fasting.
  • 19:06 - 19:08
    And people came and said to Him:
  • 19:08 - 19:11
    'Why do John's disciples and the
    disciples of the Pharisees fast,
  • 19:11 - 19:14
    but your disciples do not fast?'
  • 19:14 - 19:16
    Jesus said to them,
    'Can the wedding guest fast
  • 19:16 - 19:18
    while the bridegroom is with them?'"
  • 19:18 - 19:20
    As long as they have the
    bridegroom with them?
  • 19:20 - 19:21
    "They cannot fast.
  • 19:21 - 19:24
    The days will come when the
    bridegroom is taken away from them,
  • 19:24 - 19:26
    And then they will fast in that day."
  • 19:26 - 19:28
    Mark's account is actually more extensive,
  • 19:28 - 19:31
    more detailed account than
    what Matthew gives us.
  • 19:31 - 19:33
    What is very interesting is this:
  • 19:33 - 19:36
    Matthew uses the word mourn
  • 19:36 - 19:38
    in exactly the same place
  • 19:38 - 19:42
    where Mark uses the word fast.
  • 19:42 - 19:43
    Interchangeably.
  • 19:43 - 19:48
    That means they are synonymous.
  • 19:48 - 19:52
    I hope that helps in thinking
    about what fasting is.
  • 19:52 - 19:54
    Mourning. Why do we mourn?
  • 19:54 - 19:57
    Why would you mourn when the
    bridegroom is taken away?
  • 19:57 - 19:59
    Because there are longings there.
  • 19:59 - 20:01
    There is desire there.
  • 20:01 - 20:03
    I want Christ back.
  • 20:03 - 20:06
    This is not good. I don't like this.
  • 20:06 - 20:09
    And you know what,
    we should not be content.
  • 20:09 - 20:12
    This is a healthy discontent.
  • 20:12 - 20:15
    You should not be
    content to live by faith.
  • 20:15 - 20:16
    Say what?
  • 20:16 - 20:18
    The Bible says we should
    live by faith. No!
  • 20:18 - 20:21
    What I mean is you should
    not be content to stay here
  • 20:21 - 20:23
    and live by faith forever.
  • 20:23 - 20:26
    You should want to see Him face to face.
  • 20:26 - 20:28
    You should want to embrace God.
  • 20:28 - 20:30
    You should want to see Him.
  • 20:30 - 20:32
    You should want to stand in His presence.
  • 20:32 - 20:34
    You should want to walk with Him
  • 20:34 - 20:37
    and talk with Him and
    fellowship with Him forever.
  • 20:37 - 20:40
    This isn't any good.
    Well, it is kind of good.
  • 20:40 - 20:43
    It is good if you are a Christian
  • 20:43 - 20:46
    and you are walking with the Lord here.
  • 20:46 - 20:53
    Even the most that Christians
    experience here is not what we want.
  • 20:53 - 20:55
    We want consummation.
  • 20:55 - 20:58
    This is like we have been betrothed.
  • 20:58 - 21:04
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 21:04 - 21:08
    Who gets engaged and wants
    to stay engaged forever?
  • 21:08 - 21:10
    That's what we are dealing with here.
  • 21:10 - 21:12
    We don't want this.
  • 21:12 - 21:16
    We don't want to walk by faith,
    not by sight for eternity.
  • 21:16 - 21:19
    We want to walk by sight.
    We want to see Him.
  • 21:19 - 21:21
    It doesn't mean we don't trust Him.
  • 21:21 - 21:24
    But we want to see Him;
    we want to be with Him.
  • 21:24 - 21:26
    We want the veil ripped back.
  • 21:26 - 21:30
    And until that happens, we
    are longing after something.
  • 21:30 - 21:33
    We want more. I want more.
  • 21:33 - 21:36
    I want Him to manifest Himself more.
  • 21:36 - 21:38
    I want more of His presence,
    more of His power,
  • 21:38 - 21:40
    more of His help. I want more.
  • 21:40 - 21:42
    Don't you want more?
  • 21:42 - 21:44
    That seems to be what this is all about.
  • 21:44 - 21:47
    They can't fast while I am here.
  • 21:47 - 21:50
    Why? They've got the bridegroom.
  • 21:50 - 21:52
    This isn't just random
  • 21:52 - 21:56
    or sporadic exercise of the Christian.
  • 21:56 - 21:59
    This has to do with what we desire.
  • 21:59 - 22:02
    That's what I want the church to do
  • 22:02 - 22:06
    and I want the church to fast
    several times a year at least.
  • 22:06 - 22:12
    I hope you are fasting outside of the
    times the church calls for a church fast.
  • 22:12 - 22:15
    I don't want people to do it mechanically
  • 22:15 - 22:18
    or just because we got into the tradition
  • 22:18 - 22:21
    of starting the year with a
    week of prayer and fasting.
  • 22:21 - 22:23
    This has to come from desire.
  • 22:23 - 22:25
    This has to come from unfulfilled desire,
  • 22:25 - 22:29
    unfulfilled passion, unfulfilled longing.
  • 22:29 - 22:31
    That is what He is talking about here.
  • 22:31 - 22:33
    Let us go further with this.
  • 22:33 - 22:41
    How about Luke 2:36?
  • 22:41 - 22:46
    We are going to get
    closer to the heart of this.
  • 22:46 - 22:50
    I think we are already hitting on it.
  • 22:50 - 22:54
    I hope this will help bring
    it into even greater clarity.
  • 22:54 - 22:58
    Luke 2:36.
  • 22:58 - 23:00
    You may remember,
  • 23:00 - 23:03
    there was a prophetess named Anna,
  • 23:03 - 23:07
    the daughter of Phanuel
    of the tribe of Asher.
  • 23:07 - 23:10
    "She was advanced in years,
  • 23:10 - 23:12
    having lived with her husband seven years
  • 23:12 - 23:16
    from when she was a virgin."
  • 23:16 - 23:19
    Then as a widow until she was 84.
  • 23:19 - 23:21
    She did not depart from the temple.
  • 23:21 - 23:25
    Notice this: "Worshiping with fasting
  • 23:25 - 23:28
    and prayer night and day."
  • 23:28 - 23:31
    Here is what I want you to see.
  • 23:31 - 23:35
    Look, our lives are to be
    lived for the glory of God;
  • 23:35 - 23:37
    whatsoever we do,
  • 23:37 - 23:39
    whether we eat or drink,
  • 23:39 - 23:42
    or don't eat and drink.
  • 23:42 - 23:45
    We are to do everything
    for the glory of God.
  • 23:45 - 23:47
    This is about worship.
  • 23:47 - 23:52
    Worship comes from the
    Old English "weorthscipe."
  • 23:52 - 23:55
    It has to do with the
    worthiness of something.
  • 23:55 - 23:59
    Worship is when we are recognizing
  • 23:59 - 24:01
    the worth of something.
  • 24:01 - 24:06
    There is nobody more
    worthy than God Almighty.
  • 24:06 - 24:09
    There is nothing more worthy.
  • 24:09 - 24:13
    He, alone, is worthy of our worship.
  • 24:13 - 24:20
    And she, Anna, was
    worshiping with fasting.
  • 24:20 - 24:23
    Fasting is a form of worship. Why?
  • 24:23 - 24:26
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 24:26 - 24:27
    Think about this:
  • 24:27 - 24:32
    When I fast because of the
    reason given in Matthew 6,
  • 24:32 - 24:37
    because I long for the Father's reward.
  • 24:37 - 24:40
    When I fast because the bridegroom
  • 24:40 - 24:41
    has been taken away,
  • 24:41 - 24:43
    and my longing is for Him.
  • 24:43 - 24:45
    When I need God;
  • 24:45 - 24:47
    when I need what God can give me;
  • 24:47 - 24:49
    when I need God Himself;
  • 24:49 - 24:52
    when I am longing for that,
  • 24:52 - 24:55
    that's worship.
  • 24:55 - 24:57
    Look, when we're needy people
  • 24:57 - 25:00
    and we are coming to God
    and we are desperate,
  • 25:00 - 25:01
    and we need His help -
  • 25:01 - 25:03
    but more than that; more
    than what He can give us.
  • 25:03 - 25:05
    We need Him.
  • 25:05 - 25:07
    We want Him.
  • 25:07 - 25:13
    That's worship.
  • 25:13 - 25:16
    Isn't it? Isn't it the heart
    and soul of worship
  • 25:16 - 25:19
    when we are wanting God
    more than anything else?
  • 25:19 - 25:22
    When I say, you know what?
  • 25:22 - 25:24
    I want God!
  • 25:24 - 25:27
    I will give up food for
    these seasons in my life
  • 25:27 - 25:29
    because I really want Him.
  • 25:29 - 25:31
    I want Him more than food.
  • 25:31 - 25:33
    I need food. I get hungry.
  • 25:33 - 25:38
    But I have a hunger in my soul for Him.
  • 25:38 - 25:40
    And you see, that is worship.
  • 25:40 - 25:42
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 25:42 - 25:46
    The last New Testament verse
    (well, actually, there's two)
  • 25:46 - 25:50
    I would take us to are found in Acts.
  • 25:50 - 25:51
    The early church.
  • 25:51 - 25:58
    We see them fasting. Acts 13.
  • 25:58 - 26:02
    Acts 13 is the chapter in Scripture
  • 26:02 - 26:08
    where we see the missionary endeavor
  • 26:08 - 26:12
    taking root and form.
  • 26:12 - 26:16
    Paul and Barnabas are sent
    out of the church of Antioch.
  • 26:16 - 26:18
    Paul's first missionary journey.
  • 26:18 - 26:20
    Acts 13:1.
  • 26:20 - 26:23
    "Now there were in the church at
    Antioch prophets and teachers,
  • 26:23 - 26:24
    Barnabas,
  • 26:24 - 26:26
    Simeon who is called Niger,
  • 26:26 - 26:28
    Lucius of Cyrene,
  • 26:28 - 26:33
    Manaen, a lifelong friend of
    Herod the tetrarch and Saul.
  • 26:33 - 26:38
    While they were worshiping
    the Lord and fasting..."
  • 26:38 - 26:41
    Now we know that with Anna who
    was worshiping with fasting,
  • 26:41 - 26:44
    Here, the ESV anyways says
  • 26:44 - 26:48
    "worshiping the Lord and fasting."
  • 26:48 - 26:51
    The Holy Spirit said: "Set apart
    for me Barnabas and Saul
  • 26:51 - 26:54
    for the work to which I have called them.
  • 26:54 - 26:57
    And after fasting and praying,
  • 26:57 - 27:01
    they laid their hands on
    them and sent them off."
  • 27:01 - 27:08
    Now, were they fasting
    just as a typical practice
  • 27:08 - 27:10
    and that's when the Spirit came?
  • 27:10 - 27:15
    Or did the Spirit somehow
    move through a prophet
  • 27:15 - 27:17
    and indicate these men
    needed to go the mission field?
  • 27:17 - 27:20
    They saw this as being
    such an important event
  • 27:20 - 27:22
    that they needed to fast.
  • 27:22 - 27:24
    I don't know the exact order here.
  • 27:24 - 27:27
    It almost seems like if
    you take it at face value,
  • 27:27 - 27:30
    it seems like they were fasting.
  • 27:30 - 27:32
    The Spirit in the midst of their fasting
  • 27:32 - 27:35
    indicated maybe through
    a New Testament prophet
  • 27:35 - 27:38
    that these were the two
    guys that were to be sent.
  • 27:38 - 27:42
    And they continued in
    their praying and fasting.
  • 27:42 - 27:44
    But anyways, the prayer and fasting
  • 27:44 - 27:45
    seems to go hand in hand
  • 27:45 - 27:49
    with the sending out
    of the first missionaries.
  • 27:49 - 27:51
    They are going out and cross
  • 27:51 - 27:53
    from Asia over into Europe
  • 27:53 - 27:55
    and we know all the churches
    that would be established.
  • 27:55 - 27:58
    This is a major matter.
  • 27:58 - 28:01
    This missionary movement
  • 28:01 - 28:06
    is flowing out of this praying and fasting.
  • 28:06 - 28:08
    We go a little further
    in the book of Acts.
  • 28:08 - 28:13
    Acts 14:23.
  • 28:13 - 28:18
    Now Paul and Barnabas -
    they're moving around
  • 28:18 - 28:21
    through the churches and are coming back
  • 28:21 - 28:24
    to churches that they've
    already established.
  • 28:24 - 28:27
    Churches that were already planted.
  • 28:27 - 28:28
    Acts 14:23,
  • 28:28 - 28:31
    "When they appointed elders
    for them in every church..."
  • 28:31 - 28:35
    and now they are going back to these
    churches that they originally planted.
  • 28:35 - 28:38
    Now they are going back to them.
    These churches are springing up
  • 28:38 - 28:39
    and they are appointing elders
  • 28:39 - 28:42
    and they are doing this
    with prayer and fasting.
  • 28:42 - 28:44
    It is like when Paul and
    Barnabas are designated
  • 28:44 - 28:47
    from the church of Antioch to go out.
  • 28:47 - 28:49
    When Paul and Barnabas themselves
  • 28:49 - 28:51
    go into these churches
  • 28:51 - 28:53
    and elders are being appointed.
  • 28:53 - 28:56
    It is being done with prayer and fasting.
  • 28:56 - 28:58
    Why? Because there's this
    desperate need then.
  • 28:58 - 29:00
    You want to be right about the leaders
  • 29:00 - 29:02
    that you are choosing to take the Gospel
  • 29:02 - 29:04
    out on missionary endeavors
  • 29:04 - 29:06
    and who is going to be
    overseeing the churches.
  • 29:06 - 29:08
    This is a time of desperation:
  • 29:08 - 29:10
    Lord, we need answers from You.
  • 29:10 - 29:12
    We need Your help.
  • 29:12 - 29:14
    We need clarity. We need discernment.
  • 29:14 - 29:18
    You can just see, it's
    times of great need.
  • 29:18 - 29:23
    They commit themselves
    to prayer and fasting.
  • 29:23 - 29:26
    Those are the verses in the New Testament
  • 29:26 - 29:27
    where you find fasting come up.
  • 29:27 - 29:31
    You get a feel for what it's about.
  • 29:31 - 29:33
    Now, I want to take you to
    an Old Testament passage
  • 29:33 - 29:39
    in the remaining 25 minutes or so.
  • 29:39 - 29:42
    This is a great passage.
  • 29:42 - 29:50
    Turn in your Bibles first to Ezra 4.
  • 29:50 - 29:52
    We have to build the setting here
  • 29:52 - 29:54
    before we can just dive right into it.
  • 29:54 - 29:57
    If you don't get a feel for the setting,
  • 29:57 - 30:04
    you kind of lose some of this.
  • 30:04 - 30:08
    So if you go to Ezra...
  • 30:08 - 30:10
    Let me just tell you,
  • 30:10 - 30:13
    if you want to do a
    real interesting study,
  • 30:13 - 30:15
    very carefully study Ezra,
  • 30:15 - 30:18
    Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah.
  • 30:18 - 30:22
    Haggai and Zechariah are the two prophets
  • 30:22 - 30:26
    that God sent into Jerusalem
  • 30:26 - 30:32
    in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
  • 30:32 - 30:38
    Those four books are all
    from the same time period.
  • 30:38 - 30:42
    It's that time period of the
    rebuilding of the Temple
  • 30:42 - 30:45
    after the Babylonian captivity.
  • 30:45 - 30:47
    They all go together.
  • 30:47 - 30:50
    Two of them are side by
    side in the minor prophets
  • 30:50 - 30:55
    and two of them are right before
    the Book of Job and Psalms
  • 30:55 - 30:58
    and that area of your Bible.
  • 30:58 - 31:01
    But they go together.
  • 31:01 - 31:05
    It is very interesting if you start
    looking at the timetables.
  • 31:05 - 31:08
    And often, they measured the time
  • 31:08 - 31:11
    by whoever was in the leadership,
  • 31:11 - 31:14
    whether that was Cyrus or Darius.
  • 31:14 - 31:17
    And they talk about if
    you go back before that,
  • 31:17 - 31:18
    it was Nebuchadnezzar -
  • 31:18 - 31:21
    in the certain year
    of Nebuchadnezzar.
  • 31:21 - 31:23
    Anyway, let's look at this.
  • 31:23 - 31:27
    Ezra 4:24.
  • 31:27 - 31:32
    Actually, glance back up to Ezra 4:4
  • 31:32 - 31:34
    since you're right in the same chapter.
  • 31:34 - 31:37
    I want you to see this.
    What happens in Ezra 4:4?
  • 31:37 - 31:44
    What do you see happen there?
  • 31:44 - 31:45
    Fear.
  • 31:45 - 31:48
    Let me tell you what happened.
  • 31:48 - 31:51
    70 years of Babylonian captivity go by.
  • 31:51 - 31:53
    70 years.
  • 31:53 - 31:57
    Which prophet prophesied
    they'd be in Babylon 70 years?
  • 31:57 - 31:59
    Jeremiah.
  • 31:59 - 32:00
    Daniel picked up on that,
  • 32:00 - 32:03
    Daniel prayed right there towards the end.
  • 32:03 - 32:04
    What happens?
  • 32:04 - 32:07
    Cyrus comes along and Cyrus says:
  • 32:07 - 32:11
    "Any Jews that want to go back
    to Jerusalem and rebuild?
  • 32:11 - 32:12
    Go back. "
  • 32:12 - 32:14
    So they go back.
  • 32:14 - 32:18
    And first thing they did,
    they built the altar.
  • 32:18 - 32:20
    That was the first thing they did.
  • 32:20 - 32:22
    Second thing they did, was they laid
  • 32:22 - 32:26
    the foundation for the Temple.
  • 32:26 - 32:29
    In 4:4, they quit work on the Temple
  • 32:29 - 32:33
    after they have the
    foundation laid out of fear.
  • 32:33 - 32:35
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 32:35 - 32:40
    Listen, even though they had
    a commission to do this,
  • 32:40 - 32:47
    the capital is a long way away.
  • 32:47 - 32:50
    By the time they get to this point,
  • 32:50 - 32:54
    Cyrus isn't even there anymore.
  • 32:54 - 32:56
    What they get is that people
  • 32:56 - 32:59
    who did not like the Jews.
  • 32:59 - 33:04
    Antisemitism was very
    much alive back then.
  • 33:04 - 33:07
    They did not want these
    Jews rebuilding the walls,
  • 33:07 - 33:09
    or rebuilding the Temple.
  • 33:09 - 33:12
    They did not want that.
    They were opposed to it.
  • 33:12 - 33:15
    They tried various ways
    to stop them, scare them.
  • 33:15 - 33:18
    They managed - they scared them.
  • 33:18 - 33:22
    They got the foundation completed
  • 33:22 - 33:24
    and then they terrified them.
  • 33:24 - 33:26
    The Jews quit.
  • 33:26 - 33:30
    Now I want you to jump down to Ezra 4:24.
  • 33:30 - 33:33
    "Then the work of the house of God
  • 33:33 - 33:36
    that is in Jerusalem stopped."
  • 33:36 - 33:39
    They got the foundation
    done and it stopped.
  • 33:39 - 33:40
    And notice this:
  • 33:40 - 33:44
    "It ceased until the second year
  • 33:44 - 33:50
    of the reign of Darius, king of Persia"
  • 33:50 - 33:59
    Cyrus was gone by the
    time this work would resume.
  • 33:59 - 34:05
    It would resume in the second year
    of the reign of Darius, king of Persia.
  • 34:05 - 34:09
    Now jump to Haggai and Zechariah.
  • 34:09 - 34:13
    We want to look at those two momentarily.
  • 34:13 - 34:17
    They are right at the end of the Old
    Testament in the minor prophets.
  • 34:17 - 34:22
    Haggai is very short.
    Zechariah is a bit longer.
  • 34:22 - 34:23
    But remember that,
  • 34:23 - 34:26
    the work would not resume
  • 34:26 - 34:41
    until the second year
    of this reign of Darius.
  • 34:41 - 34:44
    So now, if we go to Haggai -
  • 34:44 - 34:52
    are you all there?
  • 34:52 - 34:53
    Everyone got it?
  • 34:53 - 34:55
    Old Testament. Last book is Malachi.
  • 34:55 - 34:58
    Jump back before that.
    You've got Zechariah.
  • 34:58 - 35:00
    Before that, you've got Haggai.
    Little tiny book.
  • 35:00 - 35:05
    Notice how it starts. Haggai 1:1.
  • 35:05 - 35:08
    Remember, back in Ezra,
  • 35:08 - 35:13
    we saw that the work on
    the house of God ceased
  • 35:13 - 35:16
    until the second year of the reign
    of Darius, king of Persia.
  • 35:16 - 35:21
    Now, Haggai picks up in the
    second year of Darius the king.
  • 35:21 - 35:24
    This is the precise year
  • 35:24 - 35:27
    that the building is going to resume.
  • 35:27 - 35:32
    The second year of Darius the king.
  • 35:32 - 35:34
    Now jump over to Zechariah 1:1,
  • 35:34 - 35:36
    which is your next book in your Bibles.
  • 35:36 - 35:39
    Zechariah 1:1.
  • 35:39 - 35:43
    And you're going to see,
    it starts in the eighth month,
  • 35:43 - 35:45
    in the second year of Darius.
  • 35:45 - 35:47
    Again it is the same. It's the same.
  • 35:47 - 35:52
    That text that we had there in Ezra 4:24,
  • 35:52 - 35:55
    that the building would resume,
  • 35:55 - 36:00
    is the exact same year that
    both of these books start.
  • 36:00 - 36:02
    Why? Well, I'll tell you what happened,
  • 36:02 - 36:04
    they quit out of fear
  • 36:04 - 36:07
    and God sent both these prophets
  • 36:07 - 36:09
    in the very year that they would resume
  • 36:09 - 36:15
    to kick start these people
    into resuming the building.
  • 36:15 - 36:17
    They were wrong to quit.
  • 36:17 - 36:20
    They weren't trusting the Lord!
  • 36:20 - 36:21
    They were living in fear.
  • 36:21 - 36:24
    And if you go back and read Ezra,
  • 36:24 - 36:26
    what you find is God sent
  • 36:26 - 36:29
    Haggai and Zechariah to them.
  • 36:29 - 36:31
    These are the prophets sent to them
  • 36:31 - 36:34
    to kick them in the rear
    and get them building again.
  • 36:34 - 36:41
    God was not happy that
    they stopped building.
  • 36:41 - 36:43
    Now, let's just keep moving along here.
  • 36:43 - 36:47
    Go to Zechariah 7.
  • 36:47 - 36:55
    Zechariah 7:1 starts in the
    fourth year of king Darius.
  • 36:55 - 36:58
    Now, I'm just going to tell you this.
  • 36:58 - 37:01
    In Ezra, we find out that the Temple
  • 37:01 - 37:14
    was completed in the sixth year of Darius.
  • 37:14 - 37:18
    Zechariah 7 starts in the fourth year.
  • 37:18 - 37:24
    The construction was kicked back
    into gear in the second year.
  • 37:24 - 37:27
    We know that it's finished
    in the sixth year.
  • 37:27 - 37:29
    Guess where the fourth year puts you?
  • 37:29 - 37:31
    Right in the middle of the reconstruction
  • 37:31 - 37:34
    of the new Temple.
  • 37:34 - 37:38
    We are going somewhere with this.
    Just hang with me here.
  • 37:38 - 37:41
    You got to picture yourselves.
    This is Jerusalem.
  • 37:41 - 37:43
    They have been in fear of their enemies.
  • 37:43 - 37:46
    They quit.
  • 37:46 - 37:49
    After they foundation was laid, they quit.
  • 37:49 - 37:50
    God was not pleased.
  • 37:50 - 37:52
    God sent these prophets.
  • 37:52 - 37:57
    Told them: "You need to start
    rebuilding, you need to trust Me."
  • 37:57 - 38:01
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 38:01 - 38:04
    What you've tried to do
    has not been blessed,
  • 38:04 - 38:06
    because you have
    not given first priority
  • 38:06 - 38:08
    to the rebuilding of My Temple.
  • 38:08 - 38:10
    That is what He told them
    through these prophets.
  • 38:10 - 38:12
    And so they resumed building
  • 38:12 - 38:14
    in the second year of Darius.
  • 38:14 - 38:17
    They finished it in the sixth year.
  • 38:17 - 38:21
    Zechariah chapter 7 is in the fourth year.
  • 38:21 - 38:27
    It is when the Temple
    is half-way restored.
  • 38:27 - 38:30
    That is key.
  • 38:30 - 38:36
    Now, look at Zechariah 7:2.
  • 38:36 - 38:39
    Now, the people of Bethel...
  • 38:39 - 38:44
    Bethel was 11 miles north of Jerusalem.
  • 38:44 - 38:46
    There were Jews there as well.
  • 38:46 - 38:49
    Jews that came back -
    they didn't all go to Jerusalem.
  • 38:49 - 38:51
    Many of them went back
  • 38:51 - 38:55
    to where their families came from.
  • 38:55 - 38:58
    Not all of them went to Jerusalem.
    Many were in the surrounding cities.
  • 38:58 - 39:01
    And so you've got a
    bunch of Jews in Bethel
  • 39:01 - 39:04
    11 miles north of Jerusalem.
  • 39:04 - 39:08
    "And they sent Sharezer
    and Regem-melech..."
  • 39:08 - 39:16
    Interesting - these are still
    Babylonian names on these Jews.
  • 39:16 - 39:18
    And they're men to entreat
    the favor of the Lord.
  • 39:18 - 39:20
    In other words, they are sending
  • 39:20 - 39:24
    an entourage from Bethel
    11 miles to Jerusalem.
  • 39:24 - 39:27
    Why? Check this out - verse 3.
  • 39:27 - 39:29
    "Saying to the priests
  • 39:29 - 39:30
    of the house of the Lord..."
  • 39:30 - 39:32
    You see, they sent them
    to where the priests were
  • 39:32 - 39:34
    and where the house of the Lord was
  • 39:34 - 39:38
    which at this time is halfway rebuilt.
  • 39:38 - 39:39
    "And the prophets..."
  • 39:39 - 39:41
    We know who the prophets are.
  • 39:41 - 39:43
    You can see that in Ezra.
  • 39:43 - 39:46
    That's these two guys,
    Haggai and Zechariah.
  • 39:46 - 39:48
    Notice what they say:
  • 39:48 - 39:52
    "Should I weep and abstain?"
  • 39:52 - 39:55
    Abstain? What is that? That is fasting.
  • 39:55 - 39:57
    If you doubt it, down to a few verses,
  • 39:57 - 39:59
    he tells us that is exactly what it means.
  • 39:59 - 40:01
    Abstain from food.
  • 40:01 - 40:02
    Should we weep?
  • 40:02 - 40:04
    Doesn't it go hand in hand with mourning?
  • 40:04 - 40:06
    Like we saw in the New Testament,
  • 40:06 - 40:09
    where mourn and fasting
    are used interchangeably.
  • 40:09 - 40:12
    They are talking about
    weeping and abstaining.
  • 40:12 - 40:15
    It goes hand in hand.
  • 40:15 - 40:19
    I was leading you back to fasting.
  • 40:19 - 40:24
    "Should I weep and abstain
    (or fast) in the fifth month
  • 40:24 - 40:27
    as I have done for so many years?"
  • 40:27 - 40:30
    Now, the "so many" years is seventy years.
  • 40:30 - 40:34
    He is going to tell us
    that precisely in verse 5.
  • 40:34 - 40:36
    God is going to tell us.
  • 40:36 - 40:38
    What are the seventy years?
  • 40:38 - 40:40
    The seventy years are
    when they were in captivity.
  • 40:40 - 40:42
    What they are saying is this:
  • 40:42 - 40:49
    they sent these two select
    men with their entourage
  • 40:49 - 40:55
    11 miles to Jerusalem to the
    priest and to the prophets,
  • 40:55 - 40:57
    and they are saying, hey guys,
  • 40:57 - 41:00
    go ask the priests and the prophets
  • 41:00 - 41:03
    whether we are supposed
    to continue to fast
  • 41:03 - 41:08
    in the fifth month like we
    have been for seventy years.
  • 41:08 - 41:10
    Why would they have done that?
  • 41:10 - 41:12
    To express their mourning for the fact
  • 41:12 - 41:14
    that Nebuchadnezzar came in and wiped out
  • 41:14 - 41:17
    the temple and burned
    it and it was destroyed.
  • 41:17 - 41:20
    That is basically what is going on here.
  • 41:20 - 41:24
    Fifth month of the year, these people
    have been fasting for seventy years.
  • 41:24 - 41:27
    They have a question as to
    whether they should continue.
  • 41:27 - 41:31
    And here's the thing,
    the temple is being rebuilt.
  • 41:31 - 41:33
    It's like, well, we want to know,
  • 41:33 - 41:38
    should we keep fasting
  • 41:38 - 41:39
    for the sake of the Temple,
  • 41:39 - 41:42
    when the Temple is actually
    now getting rebuilt?
  • 41:42 - 41:44
    Does is make any sense to keep fasting?
  • 41:44 - 41:47
    We fasted before because
    we lost the Temple.
  • 41:47 - 41:50
    Nebuchadnezzar burned it.
    We were mourning.
  • 41:50 - 41:51
    But now that it's being rebuilt,
  • 41:51 - 41:54
    should we still keep on
    weeping and mourning?
  • 41:54 - 41:55
    Is that even right?
  • 41:55 - 41:57
    And we are hearing word
  • 41:57 - 41:59
    the thing is well under construction.
  • 41:59 - 42:01
    It is likely to be completed.
  • 42:01 - 42:03
    Do we keep fasting?
  • 42:03 - 42:04
    So they sent this delegation
  • 42:04 - 42:06
    to the priests and prophets in Jerusalem.
  • 42:06 - 42:08
    Notice Zechariah 7:4- 5.
  • 42:08 - 42:13
    "Then the word of the
    Lord of hosts came to me."
  • 42:13 - 42:16
    This is Zechariah.
  • 42:16 - 42:18
    Verse 5:
  • 42:18 - 42:24
    "Say to all the people of
    the land and the priests,
  • 42:24 - 42:27
    when you fasted and
    mourned in the fifth month..."
  • 42:27 - 42:31
    They not only fasted then; they
    were asking about the fifth month,
  • 42:31 - 42:34
    but God throws in here the
    seventh as well for these.
  • 42:34 - 42:36
    Here we get the exact number of years,
  • 42:36 - 42:39
    these seventy years
    while they were in captivity.
  • 42:39 - 42:43
    "Was it for Me that you fasted?"
  • 42:43 - 42:47
    Was it for Me that you fasted?
  • 42:47 - 42:52
    Now we are getting back
    at the heart of why we fast.
  • 42:52 - 42:56
    Was it for Me? What an answer!
  • 42:56 - 43:00
    But there is more! Read verse 6 with me.
  • 43:00 - 43:08
    This is interesting because
    their question is about fasting.
  • 43:08 - 43:10
    "When you eat and when you drink..."
  • 43:10 - 43:14
    Wait, God just said to them:
  • 43:14 - 43:18
    "When you fasted and
    mourned in the fifth month
  • 43:18 - 43:20
    and the seventh for seventy years,
  • 43:20 - 43:22
    was it for Me that you fasted?"
  • 43:22 - 43:24
    And then He goes right on to say -
  • 43:24 - 43:27
    their question isn't even
    about eating and drinking,
  • 43:27 - 43:32
    It's about whether they should continue
    mourning and abstaining - fasting.
  • 43:32 - 43:34
    But He goes on to say,
  • 43:34 - 43:36
    "When you eat and when you drink,
  • 43:36 - 43:38
    do you not eat for yourselves
  • 43:38 - 43:41
    and drink for yourselves?"
  • 43:41 - 43:43
    It's like, wow... Lord.
  • 43:43 - 43:45
    Why do You give them
    that bit of information
  • 43:45 - 43:49
    when they are not even being
    asked about eating and drinking.
  • 43:49 - 43:53
    Do you get the idea that
    what was so important
  • 43:53 - 43:58
    to the Jews - and it is!
  • 43:58 - 44:00
    This is a really important
    question for these Jews.
  • 44:00 - 44:02
    They felt it so critical to figure out
  • 44:02 - 44:05
    whether they should continue
    this or not continue this,
  • 44:05 - 44:07
    that they actually go
    to the extent of sending
  • 44:07 - 44:09
    a party of men to
    Jerusalem to get an answer.
  • 44:09 - 44:12
    They obviously find Zechariah.
  • 44:12 - 44:14
    Zechariah's a man who can
    give them an answer, right?
  • 44:14 - 44:16
    He is a prophet of God,
  • 44:16 - 44:19
    He's got a connection with the Lord.
  • 44:19 - 44:21
    They want to know.
  • 44:21 - 44:23
    Why would you even ask that question?
  • 44:23 - 44:26
    Why would you even send
    this delegation to find out?
  • 44:26 - 44:29
    Because you want to know
    what pleases the Lord.
  • 44:29 - 44:31
    They are thinking, they are
    discussing among themselves.
  • 44:31 - 44:33
    They are getting together
    at Bethel and thinking,
  • 44:33 - 44:35
    "Should we continue this?"
  • 44:35 - 44:36
    Which is pleasing to the Lord?
  • 44:36 - 44:39
    Is it pleasing to the Lord that
    we continue to fast?
  • 44:39 - 44:42
    Or is it pleasing to the Lord that
    we discontinue this fast?
  • 44:42 - 44:45
    That is what they are asking about.
  • 44:45 - 44:49
    But you see how God answers?
  • 44:49 - 44:55
    God is saying to them what's
    really and truly important to Me
  • 44:55 - 44:59
    is missed by your questions altogether.
  • 44:59 - 45:02
    You see, you are sitting there thinking
  • 45:02 - 45:05
    that whether you fast or don't fast
  • 45:05 - 45:08
    is going to make the difference.
  • 45:08 - 45:12
    And God is saying it's not
    going to make any difference.
  • 45:12 - 45:15
    I am not pleased with you
    when you eat and drink.
  • 45:15 - 45:18
    Nor I am pleased with you
    when you don't eat and drink.
  • 45:18 - 45:20
    You see the Lord's point?
  • 45:20 - 45:26
    Your fifth month fast has been no
    good because you don't do it for Me!
  • 45:26 - 45:29
    You don't do it for Me.
  • 45:29 - 45:33
    If that's all the Lord has said;
    if He had stopped right there,
  • 45:33 - 45:35
    they'd be going home thinking:
  • 45:35 - 45:38
    Oh, okay, so God is not
    pleased with the fast.
  • 45:38 - 45:40
    Ok guys, Bethel we need to stop fasting.
  • 45:40 - 45:42
    God will be pleased with this.
  • 45:42 - 45:45
    No! It was necessary that
    He say the next thing,
  • 45:45 - 45:47
    so that they really get the point.
  • 45:47 - 45:49
    You guys have a bigger issue
  • 45:49 - 45:53
    than whether you are
    fasting or not fasting.
  • 45:53 - 45:55
    The way to please God
    is not for these people
  • 45:55 - 45:58
    to simply quit the fast.
  • 45:58 - 46:00
    The Lord says that's
    no good either because
  • 46:00 - 46:03
    you give the fast up and then you
    go back to eating and drinking.
  • 46:03 - 46:08
    You don't do that for Me either.
  • 46:08 - 46:11
    Our primary question about fasting,
  • 46:11 - 46:12
    because you get all the time:
  • 46:12 - 46:14
    How often should I fast?
  • 46:14 - 46:20
    How long should I fast when I do fast?
  • 46:20 - 46:22
    What should this look like?
  • 46:22 - 46:24
    Do I fast for a meal?
  • 46:24 - 46:26
    Do I fast for a whole day?
  • 46:26 - 46:29
    Three days? Seven days?
  • 46:29 - 46:30
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 46:30 - 46:33
    Look, I'll tell you this,
  • 46:33 - 46:36
    if you are Christian,
  • 46:36 - 46:40
    Jesus is clearly saying
  • 46:40 - 46:43
    that fasting can be beneficial to you
  • 46:43 - 46:47
    in order to receive the
    reward that God has.
  • 46:47 - 46:50
    The greatest reward that
    God can give you is Himself,
  • 46:50 - 46:53
    and greater manifestations of Himself.
  • 46:53 - 46:55
    That is the greatest thing
    He can give you.
  • 46:55 - 47:01
    He is the greatest treasure
    that He has to give.
  • 47:01 - 47:03
    And the thing is
  • 47:03 - 47:06
    When you try to concern
    yourselves with how long?
  • 47:06 - 47:08
    What should my frequency be?
  • 47:08 - 47:10
    What should this look like?
  • 47:10 - 47:13
    There is definitely benefit in it
  • 47:13 - 47:19
    if you are doing it for the sake of God.
  • 47:19 - 47:22
    If you are just doing it mechanically;
  • 47:22 - 47:24
    if you're just doing it because
    it has become tradition or habit,
  • 47:24 - 47:27
    because the rest of church does it
  • 47:27 - 47:29
    because GCC has this tradition
  • 47:29 - 47:32
    of starting out each year with
    a week of prayer and fasting.
  • 47:32 - 47:36
    Okay, you're going to do this because...
  • 47:36 - 47:43
    Look, the real issue in this is
  • 47:43 - 47:45
    you can eat and drink to the glory of God.
  • 47:45 - 47:53
    You can fast and do that
    to the glory of the Lord.
  • 47:53 - 47:54
    And then you can go back to eating
  • 47:54 - 47:57
    and you can do it to
    the glory of the Lord.
  • 47:57 - 47:59
    You don't have to feel a bit guilty.
  • 47:59 - 48:01
    But the driving motivator here
  • 48:01 - 48:03
    should be desire for God;
  • 48:03 - 48:05
    it should be desire for Him;
  • 48:05 - 48:07
    it should be doing it for Him.
  • 48:07 - 48:09
    He is saying you did not fast for Me
  • 48:09 - 48:11
    and when you eat and drink,
  • 48:11 - 48:15
    you do that for yourselves.
  • 48:15 - 48:17
    Our sights are set on the Lord.
  • 48:17 - 48:20
    This is all God-perspective
    here in fasting.
  • 48:20 - 48:23
    That's the real issue.
  • 48:23 - 48:26
    We don't want to get
    so hung up on ritual.
  • 48:26 - 48:28
    The Pharisee: "Oh, I
    fast twice in a week."
  • 48:28 - 48:32
    You can get to where fasting
    just becomes ritualistic.
  • 48:32 - 48:34
    You just do it to do it.
  • 48:34 - 48:36
    You do it because it is almost like
  • 48:36 - 48:39
    you feel there is some magic about it.
  • 48:39 - 48:42
    I fast and somehow I
    am twisting God's arm
  • 48:42 - 48:45
    to do this or do that for me.
  • 48:45 - 48:47
    That's not what this is about.
  • 48:47 - 48:49
    You have to remember,
  • 48:49 - 48:51
    Jesus is talking about when we fast,
  • 48:51 - 48:53
    there is a God who sees in secret.
  • 48:53 - 48:55
    What's He looking at?
  • 48:55 - 48:58
    Not just your fasting exercise.
  • 48:58 - 49:01
    He is looking at your heart!
  • 49:01 - 49:03
    Didn't Jesus come along and say,
  • 49:03 - 49:06
    "You know, Isaiah said the
    right thing about you guys!"
  • 49:06 - 49:08
    He was specifically talking about
  • 49:08 - 49:10
    where Isaiah said that these people
  • 49:10 - 49:11
    draw near to Me with their mouth.
  • 49:11 - 49:15
    But their hearts - they are far from Me.
  • 49:15 - 49:17
    God looks at the heart.
  • 49:17 - 49:20
    When you are taking about fasting,
  • 49:20 - 49:23
    (Incomplete thought)
  • 49:23 - 49:26
    there are times not to fast.
  • 49:26 - 49:28
    There are times when
    the bridegroom is there.
  • 49:28 - 49:31
    It is time not to fast.
  • 49:31 - 49:33
    But the bridegroom has been taken away.
  • 49:33 - 49:35
    We ought to be desperate.
  • 49:35 - 49:36
    There ought to be lots of times
  • 49:36 - 49:39
    when we're just desperate for
    having Him draw nearer.
  • 49:39 - 49:41
    Do you ever get just desperate?
  • 49:41 - 49:44
    It is like I don't have enough of God!
  • 49:44 - 49:49
    This is clearly the most important
    question we need to be asking:
  • 49:49 - 49:53
    "Are we doing this for God?"
  • 49:53 - 49:56
    As far as frequency, it is something
    you and I have to work through.
  • 49:56 - 49:59
    It's something we have
    to ask questions about.
  • 49:59 - 50:03
    Just the question about
    whether we fast or don't fast,
  • 50:03 - 50:09
    you can tell, God thinks that's
    not the most important thing.
  • 50:09 - 50:11
    It's a trifle.
  • 50:11 - 50:14
    They totally miss what's essential
  • 50:14 - 50:17
    when they are asking a question like that.
  • 50:17 - 50:19
    That's all we ask.
  • 50:19 - 50:21
    Brethren, we need to beware of ceremony,
  • 50:21 - 50:23
    tradition, and ritual in all of this.
  • 50:23 - 50:25
    We need to be guided by desire,
  • 50:25 - 50:27
    That's a good thing to fast for!
  • 50:27 - 50:30
    God, give me more desire for You!
  • 50:30 - 50:33
    You got this promise sealed
    with the blood of Jesus Christ,
  • 50:33 - 50:36
    that if you fast in secret,
    there are rewards.
  • 50:36 - 50:38
    I'll tell you this,
  • 50:38 - 50:40
    Jesus did not say you
    will get these rewards
  • 50:40 - 50:42
    whether you fast or not.
  • 50:42 - 50:44
    He did not say that.
  • 50:44 - 50:46
    He did not say that this
    whole thing of fasting
  • 50:46 - 50:49
    is just indifferent whether
    you do it or not
  • 50:49 - 50:52
    you get the same thing that you
    would have gotten anyways.
  • 50:52 - 50:55
    That's never said about prayer
    and fasting in Scriptures.
  • 50:55 - 50:56
    What you need to know is this:
  • 50:56 - 50:59
    there are people in this
    world, Christians that fast,
  • 50:59 - 51:01
    and they received rewards from the Father
  • 51:01 - 51:03
    that other people don't receive
  • 51:03 - 51:07
    because they don't seek
    the Lord the same way.
  • 51:07 - 51:09
    They are not as desperate.
  • 51:09 - 51:12
    They don't need Him.
  • 51:12 - 51:14
    And so they don't get.
  • 51:14 - 51:17
    Scriptures says you don't
    have because you don't ask.
  • 51:17 - 51:20
    We can easily say, you don't
    have because you don't fast.
  • 51:20 - 51:24
    There may be things that you will not get
  • 51:24 - 51:26
    unless you seek them
  • 51:26 - 51:29
    with real diligent prayer and fasting.
  • 51:29 - 51:32
    Again, there is a textual issue,
  • 51:32 - 51:34
    but there is a place where Jesus in Mark 9
  • 51:34 - 51:38
    talks about this kind only
    goes out by prayer and fasting.
  • 51:38 - 51:40
    He is talking about spiritual battles,
  • 51:40 - 51:45
    won or lost, that hinge
    on prayer and fasting.
  • 51:45 - 51:47
    The textual issue is that
  • 51:47 - 51:50
    some of the manuscripts have
    fasting and some don't.
  • 51:50 - 51:53
    But even that regardless,
  • 51:53 - 51:55
    prayer is there in all of them.
  • 51:55 - 52:00
    It is the fact that there is a kind of
    prayer that goes along with fasting.
  • 52:00 - 52:04
    It is an intensified way
    of seeking the Lord.
  • 52:04 - 52:06
    When you heart is towards Him
  • 52:06 - 52:08
    and you heart is yearning towards Him,
  • 52:08 - 52:10
    God sees us fasting like that,
  • 52:10 - 52:12
    it is very pleasing to Him.
  • 52:12 - 52:14
    Very pleasing when we're desperate.
  • 52:14 - 52:18
    When we're longing because the
    bridegroom has been taken away.
  • 52:18 - 52:19
    It is worship.
  • 52:19 - 52:22
    Do we not see that with
    Hannah? It is worship.
  • 52:22 - 52:24
    This is a way to worship.
  • 52:24 - 52:27
    God never wants you to worship
    when it's only with your lips
  • 52:27 - 52:31
    or it's only in a mechanical way
    performed by your body.
  • 52:31 - 52:34
    We can grit our teeth and not eat.
  • 52:34 - 52:37
    God does not want that.
    That's not true worship.
  • 52:37 - 52:38
    Worship is from the heart.
  • 52:38 - 52:41
    God wants us to worship with all our
    heart, mind, soul and strength.
  • 52:41 - 52:44
    That is what He is looking at.
    That's what is pleasing to Him.
  • 52:44 - 52:47
    That's not just a matter of
    "Should I fast or should I not fast?"
  • 52:47 - 52:50
    It is more about where
    the heart is in all of it.
  • 52:50 - 52:52
    If our heart is desperate for God,
  • 52:52 - 52:55
    you would think fasting
    is going to be something
  • 52:55 - 53:01
    that is going to be simultaneous
    to our desperation.
  • 53:01 - 53:04
    In this life, when we
    want, and we desire,
  • 53:04 - 53:07
    and we hunger, and we
    long for more of Him,
  • 53:07 - 53:12
    more of that reward that only He can give.
  • 53:12 - 53:15
    We know by faith He is watching,
  • 53:15 - 53:19
    by faith we know that He rewards us.
  • 53:19 - 53:22
    The big things are things
    you are desperate for in life -
  • 53:22 - 53:25
    those things you know if God
    does not give them to you,
  • 53:25 - 53:26
    you will not have
  • 53:26 - 53:28
    the salvation of people's souls,
  • 53:28 - 53:30
    the advance of the Gospel,
  • 53:30 - 53:35
    big things in life, major things.
  • 53:35 - 53:36
    You are trying to figure out,
  • 53:36 - 53:39
    you know, if you want to marry somebody,
  • 53:39 - 53:43
    or you're trying to figure out
    leadership for the church,
  • 53:43 - 53:45
    what missionary is going to be sent...
  • 53:45 - 53:47
    These are appropriate
    times to be fasting -
  • 53:47 - 53:50
    big decisions in your life where
    you need to lay hold on God.
  • 53:50 - 53:55
    You need an answer. You need Him.
  • 53:55 - 53:56
    You do it for Him.
  • 53:56 - 54:04
    Any approach to God that makes Him great.
  • 54:04 - 54:09
    Not that we do, but you know how
    we talk about magnifying the Lord.
  • 54:09 - 54:14
    That doesn't mean we make
    Him bigger than He already is.
  • 54:14 - 54:16
    When we magnify the Lord,
  • 54:16 - 54:19
    all we do is come closer and
    closer to a proper perspective
  • 54:19 - 54:24
    of what He is, who He is, how He is,
    what His attributes are.
  • 54:24 - 54:28
    But brethren, when we are
    going to God in desperation,
  • 54:28 - 54:31
    you know what that does?
    You know what it communicates?
  • 54:31 - 54:35
    I recognize, I am needy,
    I am desperate, I am helpless,
  • 54:35 - 54:37
    I am bankrupt, and He is
    the fountain of all good.
  • 54:37 - 54:39
    He is Jehovah Jireh. I need Him.
  • 54:39 - 54:41
    He is the provider.
  • 54:41 - 54:45
    He is glorified when
    we view Him like that.
  • 54:45 - 54:48
    If we really recognize how
    utterly desperate we are
  • 54:48 - 54:51
    and bankrupt we are in ourselves,
  • 54:51 - 54:53
    and just the riches that are to be had;
  • 54:53 - 54:55
    this treasure house of
    riches that are in Christ.
  • 54:55 - 54:59
    Like I say, the greatest riches that
    God can give us is His own Son
  • 54:59 - 55:03
    and His own Self, fellowship with Himself.
  • 55:03 - 55:07
    Brethren, you get overwhelmed
    by the presence of God
  • 55:07 - 55:10
    and you don't want anything
    else in this world.
  • 55:10 - 55:12
    There is nothing greater than that.
  • 55:12 - 55:15
    And for Him to sweep us
    ultimately up into His presence
  • 55:15 - 55:17
    where we can behold Him face to face
  • 55:17 - 55:19
    and be married to Him, be His bride,
  • 55:19 - 55:24
    walk with Him and talk
    with Him, behold His glory.
  • 55:24 - 55:29
    There will be nothing greater that just
    beholding the glory of Jesus Christ.
  • 55:29 - 55:32
    Don't you want more now?
    Aren't you desperate for that?
  • 55:32 - 55:35
    That's what it is all about
    when you hunger after that
  • 55:35 - 55:38
    and you actually fast
    because you long for that.
  • 55:38 - 55:40
    That is worship.
  • 55:40 - 55:44
    God is very pleased
    when your heart is in it.
  • 55:44 - 55:46
    If you get to the place
    where you feel like
  • 55:46 - 55:51
    my heart is not in prolonging this fast.
  • 55:51 - 55:53
    I feel like right now, I could
    sit down and eat a steak.
  • 55:53 - 55:55
    I could do that more to His glory.
  • 55:55 - 55:57
    Then do it. Eat your steak!
  • 55:57 - 56:00
    If there is nothing in your life that
    is that desperate at that moment,
  • 56:00 - 56:01
    go eat your steak!
  • 56:01 - 56:09
    And praise God for it!
  • 56:09 - 56:12
    That's a word on fasting.
    Brief theology on fasting.
  • 56:12 - 56:16
    Hopefully, that helps maybe
    bring a little more clarity.
  • 56:16 - 56:18
    Father, we pray that the reality of this
  • 56:18 - 56:22
    that we've seen in Scriptures might be
    true in our lives and true in our church
  • 56:22 - 56:24
    especially in this season
  • 56:24 - 56:30
    where we give ourselves just such fasting.
  • 56:30 - 56:34
    Make us desperate for You, Father,
    we pray in Christ's name. Amen.
Title:
A Theology of Fasting - Tim Conway
Description:

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Video Language:
English, British
Duration:
56:35

English, British subtitles

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