'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' (ESV)This attributes the verse in question to the Israelites rather than to God. He is the one who is actually saying this and speaking negatively of their grumbling. Notice the "they say" in the NIV , indicating that He is quoting their complaints. This is more accurate to the context:
'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?' (NIV)
Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant - the Ten Commandments. 29When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.Right off, Moses was with the LORD and ate and drank nothing while he was there. However, this was not a voluntary practice to show his dedication to God, but something that happened because he was there. Because we see his face as radiant, we know that something "supernatural" occurred, which may have been how he was able to go so long without food or water. Let's hold off judgment on this for right now until we have more information.
29"This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work - whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you -Well, here is an outright ordinance, but what is an ordinance? Google defines it this way:
26The Lord said to Moses, 27"The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. 28Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath."<Verse 29 makes this a command to the people of God to deny themselves (denying yourself includes fasting, but is not only about food) for the Day of Atonement. It is a sign of obedience. While this is the only day commanded for fasting, the Jews added others.
Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD's sight and so arousing his anger.Moses did this because of Israel's sins, including the creation and worship of the golden calf as well as other episodes mentioned in this chapter. He repented for the people, praying and fasting, and God listened.
Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD.Because of a brutal crime committed by some of the Benjamites, Israel determined to go to Bethel and make the guilty ones pay. They queried of the LORD who told them to go ahead with their plans. As a result, Israel lost 22,000 men in the battle. They entreated the LORD again, He told them to fight, and they lost 18,000 more men in a second battle. This time they wept and fasted before the LORD, and gave offerings as well. Again they asked Him, but this time He also told them that He would let them be victorious. That was the result of the prayers and fasting of this verse.
When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the LORD." Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.Here, Israel is convinced by Samuel that they have strayed from the real God. He convinced them to get rid of their "other gods" and return to the LORD. Their fasting showed their dedication to their promise to return to Him.
Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.In this case, their fasting was a sign of mourning for their king, a sign of respect.
They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.Again, this was a sign of mourning and respect for their king and his son. It evidently lasted only until evening of the day they were informed of the deaths.
Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, "May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!"This was, again, mourning for the death of Abner, and lasted only until evening.
15After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18On the seventh day the child died. David's attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, "While the child was still living, he wouldn't listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate."
19David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. "Is the child dead?" he asked.
"Yes," they replied, "he is dead."
20Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
21His attendants asked him, "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!"
22He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.' "
So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.This verse seems unfit for the purpose to understand fasting. This was not the result of voluntary fasting, as Elijah was running for his life and the journey took more energy than he had to give.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.As a result of some news from Elijah the Tishbite that the LORD was going to punish Ahab for the evil in which he was currently involved, Ahab repented and demonstrated his repentance, including fasting. The LORD noticed and decided to pass the punishment due to Ahab over to his son.
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.This verse does not mention fasting, but if you go to verse 17
2Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). 3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.After learning of a massive threat, Jehoshaphat declared a fast for Judah in order to show the LORD their dedication to Him. Then he prayed to God for protection. The LORD answered through Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, and subdued the invasion. This fast was to declare the strength of their faith. If the people had not been sincere in their display of dedication, the results would have been different.
21There, by 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. 22I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." 23So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.The story behind this passage is that these Israelites were returning to Jerusalem, but found themselves without any Levites to perform the activities in the Temple. They sent for some and many good men responded. This fast was to show their dedication in doing the LORD's work according to His ways, and as a result, He blessed their actions and gave them a safe journey.
Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.These people were exiles returning to Jerusalem. They had been exiled for their continuing sinfulness which had included inter-marriage with non-Israelite women. They were in the process of recognizing their sins and came together in chapter 10 to confess to the LORD. They made a covenant with God to correct the situation by sending away all the foreign women and any children to which they had given birth, in accordance with the Law. This and other acts of contrition were performed in order to show the LORD that they were penitent.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.Nehemiah was in Persia when he heard about the condition of Jerusalem when the exiles returned there. The distress he felt was the cause of his fasting and prayer. It was so visible that King Artaxerxes asked him about it. Whether the King's generosity to let Nehemiah return to Jerusalem was the result of the prayer, we are not told in the text.
On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.This appears to be a continuation of the description of the confession and contrition of Ezra 10:6 above. The references in following verses of separating themselves from foreigners according to the Law is a clue.
In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.Mordecai had discovered that Haman was behind a plot to discredit and destroy the Israelites. He put on sackcloth and ashes and began to roam the streets of the city, mourning the plight of his people. When the other Israelites saw him and experiences the reaults of Haman's plot, they began to do the same. Their only recourse in this strange land was to seek help by fasting and prayer. However, one strange note about this book, neither the LORD's name, nor His title, is ever mentioned. Even the request of Esther to Mordecai for fasting, shown in the verse immediately below on this page, does not mention God.
15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:16"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."Before this, Esther and her family had been indirectly threatened by Haman and his cohorts. Though she was queen at the time, any unbidden visits to the king would result in the death of the person who intruded, even the queen. She decided to ask the Israelites to fast and pray for her life to be spared, but was willing to take the chance to "impose" on the king, regardless of the consequences.
13Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14I went about mourning
as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
as though weeping for my mother.
When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn;Another Psalm of David. In this one, he describes the scorn he receives because of his love for God. When he follows the LORD's decrees, his neighbors reject him and make fun of him - even while he fasts to the LORD. We should not feel alone when we are rejected because of our following the Lord, as those who follow Him will be persecuted (Matthew 10:22
My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt.I have no idea of the meaning of this verse other than the plain meaning of the text.
3'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
8Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
11Then the LORD said to me, "Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague."
In the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, a time of fasting before the LORD was proclaimed for all the people in Jerusalem and those who had come from the towns of Judah.
Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.
3So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:
"Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws."
I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.
12"Even now,"" declares the Lord,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."
13Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing -
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
15Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
5The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6When Jonah's warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
"By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."
10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
"Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?' "
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace."
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' "
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
16"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
14Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" 15Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast."
20He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
21(Intentionally blank, see discussion)
22When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men."
18Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?" 19Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast."
He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."
and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
33They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."
34Jesus answered, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast."
'I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
Cornelius answered: "Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me"
1Now 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.2While 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." 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food - you haven't eaten anything."
1Now for the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." 2But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.