“This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Father. It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. Leviticus 16:29-31
To fast is tsum ( ) (H6684) or to anah ( ) (H6907)
I personally don't fast (tsum) because I don't have the strength to focus on my humility and spiritual affliction (anah) while my body is demanding me to focus on the flesh. I have fasted for extended periods of time, and I believe it is a powerful Biblical principle. However it’s all pain in the first 72 hours. I don't want to delude myself into thinking that my physical suffering is adequate or even contributing to my spiritual affliction. If anything I think it would distract from it. I have no condemnation for those who are strong in this, and can both humble their souls, and their flesh at the same time, I’m just not there. It’s kind of a question of “Humbled or Hangry”. Obviously not feasting, but sustaining the flesh so as not to hinder the focus on the matter at hand... the soul. In Islam they cut themselves with knives, and one could reason that laying all day on a bed of nails was afflicting their souls. In South America some people literally crucify themselves because of their convictions. A judeo-Christian pastor was explaining that when he realized his sin, and the suffering he caused other people he was feeling spiritual affliction. He was prayerfully seeking consolation. He realized he couldn’t give his arm. He had to give his life. I think that is the message of Day of Atonement for me. I seek to renew my vow to giving my SELF over to Him. Die to self. A verse comes to mind:
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23
It’s very easy to perform a formality such as not eating for a day and write that off as adequate affliction. It’s another thing all together to stare into the evil in your own heart. Better now than on THAT Day.
The Israel of Isaiah’s day unto the Pharisees of Simeon’s day, even unto the Jews today believe they can fast from eating one day, rolling around sobbing in a public display, and that is somehow sufficient humility before the Father. This is not so. Isaiah 58 is clear to anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear:
The Father is telling Isaiah to declare to Israel they are in sin.
“Cry loudly, do not hold back;
Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression
And to the house of Jacob their sins.
The Father is stating that Israel is seeking Him as though they are righteous.
“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their Yah.
The Father is stating that Israel is is expecting His closeness and approval.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of Yah.
The Father is stating that Israel is seeking supplication.
‘Why have we fasted and You do not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
The Father is stating that Israel is NOT seeking Him how He desires them to.
Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.
“Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
The Father is asking Israel if their form of fast is what He chooses.
“Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Father?
The Father is explaining what He expects as a fast of HIS choosing
“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Very interesting concept here)
The Father is explaining the fruit of His fast
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Father will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Father will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
The Father is explaining SPECIFICALLY what He wants you to do:
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
“And the Father will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
Yes we must keep the Day of Atonement as a permanent statute, but how? Resting that we may humble our souls… a solemn Sabbath. Reflecting on your sin and realizing the price Messiah paid would be a humbling experience. Reveal the sin and wickedness in your heart while seeking supplication in private, personal prayer as opposed to a ritualized theatrical display. Deny the SELF, not just the flesh as you seek to care for the hungry, and those in the bondage of sin.