Saturday, June 26, 2010

Worth Fasting For

What does a fast by King David in the Old Testament have to do with our fasting today?

In 2 Samuel 12 David was fasting--"And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground"--in hope that God would spare his stricken child, son of his adulterous union with Bathsheba. The elders of his house had tried to raise him up and get him to eat, but he refused. He remained prostrate before the Lord until the seventh day, when at last the child died. Then David did a surprising thing. Instead of displaying even greater grief and harming himself (as his servants feared), the son of Jesse "arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate" (2 Samuel 12:20).

His perplexed servants asked, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” It seemed backwards to them. David answered them, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me" (Samuel 12:21-23)”

And what struck me immediately was the remembrance of Jesus' words to some men who came to ask him about fasting, men who wondered why his disciples didn't fast like the disciples of the Pharisees and John the Baptist. Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day" (Mark 2:19-20).

We fast because unlike David's son, Jesus will come back again. And our prayers, with fasting, will play a role.

Like David, we fast for a son, but unlike David, we fast for the return of the "first born among many brothers" (Romans 8:29), the "first born from the dead" (Colossians 1:18), Jesus the preeminent Son! David's time for fasting was over at the death of his child; but in our case, upon the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the time for fasting had just begun.

Even so come, Lord. Stir your people to fast and pray and long for your return. Unlike David's child, you will return, your coming hastened by the prayers and fasting of your people (2 Peter 3:11-13, Revelation 8:3-5). When you come, you will raise up your people to new life again, in resurrected bodies, on a renewed and resurrected earth. David will, at last, hold that lost child close again. We will see King Jesus, who will rule and reign forever in justice and truth. It is worth fasting for.

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