Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the 𝘉𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘔𝘢𝘯 broadcast and the 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘜𝘯𝘱𝘭𝘶𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘥 podcast, focuses on fasting as taught by our Lord in Matthew 6. Fasting is the third strand of the triple-braided cord—almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Thus says Jesus, “When you fast [not if], do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men, they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But, when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your father, who is unseen; and your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” The purpose of fasting is to remind us of our complete dependence on God. Fasting has spiritual significance only if it is connected to a desire for fellowship with our heavenly Father. Consider one of the most wicked cities of antiquity. God commissioned the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh. There he proclaimed that the great city would be over-thrown—utterly destroyed. In sober response, the Ninevites “declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” Many nations throughout history have fasted and prayed for the mercy of God. America is one of them. In the midst of civil war, Lincoln called on all Americans to participate in a national day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Such days of national fasting find precedent in sacred Scripture. Twelve centuries before Christ, Samuel, the last judge of Israel, assembled the Israelites at Mizpah for a national day of fasting. In the days of Nehemiah, the seed of Israel separated themselves in the sanctuary and renounced their heathenism, “fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads.” Joel, who likened the invasion of foreign hordes that plundered Jerusalem and left her desolate to an apocalyptic army of locusts, likewise consecrated a sacred fast in Jerusalem. There the people of the promise begged the Lord to forgive their iniquities, “with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
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