Monday, February 21, 2011
And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (Matthew 6:16)
During Old Testament times many faithful believers fasted-Moses, Samson, Samuel, Hannah, David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel, and many others. And the New Testament tells us of the fasting of Anna, John the Baptist and his disciples, Jesus, Paul, and numerous others. We know that many of the early church Fathers fasted, and that Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Whitefield, and many other outstanding Christian leaders have fasted.
But the only fast commanded in Scripture is the one connected with the Day of Atonement. On that day all the people were to "humble [their] souls" (Lev. 16:29; cf. 23:27), a Hebrew expression that included forsaking food as an act of self-denial. That was a national fast, involving every man, woman, and child in Israel. But it occurred only one time a year, and then only as an integral part of the Day of Atonement...