God’s Chosen Fast

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)

∙originally God’s Chosen Fast was the title of a classic on the subject of Christian fasting by Arthur Wallis

∙as per usual, the emphasis was upon the obedience of our humanity to the commands of God recorded in scripture concerning fasting

∙whilst this is helpful, it misses the foundational truth of fasting, God’s own fast

∙this is the meaning of the text cited above, 2 Corinthians 8:9; and it is a theme repeated throughout scripture, e.g. John 1:14 “the Word became flesh” (cf. Rom 1:3; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14; 5:7; 1 Pet 4:1; 1 John 4:2), where “flesh” means humanity in its weakened, fallen state; also, Romans 8:3 “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,  he condemned sin in the flesh”, the fast of God is especially clear in the Christological hymn of Philippians 2

∙ “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing…” (Phil 2:5-7)

∙all these passages teach that in taking human nature Jesus emptied himself of all tangible awareness of the eternal glory which he had with the Father in heaven (John 12:28;17:5)

∙this means that the whole of Jesus life was a fast!

∙this level of voluntary divine deprivation made possible the great fasts within Christ’s life, the 40 days in the wilderness (Matt 4), and particularly the passion

∙the passion is a choice to take the cup of the Father and endure the greatest of all fasts, the absence of the presence of God

∙when Jesus prayed, ““Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”” (Mark 14:36), he was receiving the cup of God’s wrath

∙hence the cry of dereliction, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34) means that the Son is completely starved of the experience of the Father’s love

∙ total self-emptying  death, opens up a new creation in which “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9 cf. 1:19) and is made available to us

∙these realities impact upon us directly in the following ways

∙they must inwardly motivate us to live like Jesus, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor 5:14-15)

∙to follow Christ’s example, to be disciples, we must be willing to fast from any area of rights whatsoever e.g. “houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands” (Matt 19:29)

∙this is deeply counter cultural and the climax of spiritual warfare, for our society teaches us, “Man does live by bread alone.”

∙the message of God’s own fast seems to be especially important in this hour when the Lord is seeking to bring times of spiritual refreshing to his Church (Act 3:20)

∙part of his plan to bring this restoration is through a renewal of fasting

∙within the framework of scripture this has to do with the role of fasting in “the last days”

∙with the coming of Jesus, “the last one” (Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13), “the last days “ began (1 Tim 4:1; Heb 1:2; Js 5:3; 2 Pet 3:3)

∙it is in these times, when the Bridegroom has departed from the earth and his people are awaiting his Return, that fasting is needed (Matt 9:15)

∙biblically, fasting accompanies an expectation of restoration e.g. Ezra 8:21; Neh 1:4; Dan 9:3

∙this is especially prominent in Joel where God promises in response to fasting (1:14; 2:12, 15), “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (2:28)

∙God once for all poured out his Spirit at Pentecost in fulfilment of the Joel prophecy (Acts 2:17) but the church continued to fast (13:2-3; 14:23) in anticipation of fresh outpourings of grace

∙the Church of today is constrained by godly wisdom to do likewise

∙hopefully, the above approach removes confusions about fasting as a means of “influencing God”, and motivates a deeper participation in Christ’s own emptying and filling for the salvation of humanity

Comments are closed.