As I read Zech 7, a couple of interesting thoughts came up while I was reading the commentary.
1. The concept of ‘synagogue’ came up while the children of Israel were in captivity. It was not an idea ordained by God. He had them build a sanctuary so He could dwell among them.
Today, our bodies are to be His sanctuary.
syn – together
ago – to drive
synagogue – The place where you come together.
The only time God commanded a fast was in preparation for the day of atonement.
Fasting actually came from a Hindu pagan belief that the body was the enemy and must be denied as much as possible.
In Isaiah 58, God talks about the type of ‘fast’ He prefers.
Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
In Zech 7: 9-10, we find what God wishes us to do.
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
In Zech 8:: 16-17:
These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.
Now, before I’m lambasted, I realize that there are times when we need ‘fasting and prayer.’ However, I believe that this should come because we are so deep in God’s word and communion with Him that we simply do not feel the need to eat.
I do not believe fasting should be done at the drop of a hat, as many do. It’s like people expect it to be the ‘Jeanie in the bottle’ type of thing where it’s a magic potion to have their prayers answered.
God promises answered prayers when conditions are met. Do you know the conditions? I went into detail on these in my prayer Bible study series.
We do need self-control. It is a fruit of the spirit, the result of God’s work of sanctification in our lives.
But, I just wanted to share that this fasting to afflict the body like many do today, came from a pagan background. I’m always finding practices that came from a pagan background. I would seek God’s will and examine our motives.
If we are meeting God’s conditions for answered prayer, then there is nothing to ‘afflict’ ourselves over.
Something to think about.