Matthew 6:16-18 16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Let’s go to the letters themselves in the Hebrew word for fasting in the original pictogram. What story do they tell?
- The first letter is the Tsade. It is the picture of a man laying on his side. The letter means need. In this case it would be a person in need for lack of eating.
- The second letter is the Vav. It is the picture of a nail. It means to connect and is often used as a conjunction in connection two ideas together.
- The third letter is the Mem. It is a picture of water and is the word for water. But not just any water. The water is troubled, stirred up. The letter can also mean chaos and stirred feelings deep within.
What are the two ideas that the Vav is connecting together? The person weakened by the lack of food and the stirred emotions.
Put this definition with Jesus’ description of what He suggests we do when we enter into the public during or following a fast, wash up and cover the smell, and it gives a picture of someone who is willing to spend the day or more before God in anguish rather than satisfy the personal need for food.
Fasting is not focused on what you give up as much as the anguish deep within you. What is stirring within you? What drives you to tears? What keeps you awake at night? What will never happen that you need so desperately unless God jumps in and takes control? It is that which burns within you that will determine what you are willing to give up in order to receive what you so desperately are interceding for.
Therefore, whether a partial fast, a water only fast, or a fast with nothing – all is determined by what you are able to give up for what you so desperately seek for.
What else is Jesus saying about fasting?
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