The Ideal Fast

Exodus 34:28

Daily Bread #13

fastWhat would you say after reading all of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is the ideal fast? Probably the one that comes to mind is the lesson that Matthew gives in chapter four of his gospel concerning Jesus fasting. In all fairness to what Matthew and Luke wrote about our Lord fasting, one would have to agree that this fasting would be high on the list of what could be considered ideal.

However, the fasting that is uppermost in my mind in the realm of ideal was that of Moses. With more than half a million rebellious and ungrateful people following Moses out Egypt, no doubt he had his work cut out for him. After that frightening experience that he and Israel had at the foot at Sinai, it would almost be unbelievable to tell Moses that a better experience with Jehovah is yet to come. And while Sinai’s experience was still fresh on his mind, he heard these words, “Come up unto Jehovah… and Moses alone shall come near unto Jehovah.” (Exo 24:1-2 ASV).

This will be Moses’ greatest encounter with God. The last verse of chapter twenty-four says, “And Moses entered the cloud… and was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exo. 24:18). But this was no ordinary cloud; this was the glory of Jehovah. Why should this encounter, with God, be looked upon as Moses’ best experience ever? At the burning bush where Moses saw something he could not explain, he drew near to see the sight of it. But a voice cried out, “Do not come any closer, remove the sandals off your feet for where you are standing is holy ground ” (Exo. 3:5).  When Moses reached the end of his life of service to God, God allowed him to see the making of the tabernacle and the completion of it.  At the completion of the tent, Moses tried to enter it but he was denied permission.  The text reads, “Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle ” (Exo 40:35 NET).

But Moses entered Yahweh’s glory for forty days and forty nights in Exodus 24:18, and there he communed with God for that period of time. On Moses’ second journey up to the mountain, the Bible specifically says, “So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water  ” (Exo 34:28 ESV). This was the second of two forty-day encounter that happened almost back to back. This fast was not an ordinary abstinence for Moses. Jehovah God prepared him for this fast; this was a divine enabling. This encounter was a lesson about total dependence God. One could almost hear Jehovah as he communed with His servant Moses.

Your earthly convenience (food, drink, rest, sleep) cannot be compared with what I am about to do for you and all Israel. To impress upon you the importance of what is about to happen between Me and Israel, I will have to sustain you for forty days and forty night from your earthly desires; your every need will be supplied. I used only seven days to create the universe and everything in it. It will take Me forty days and forty nights to cut a covenant between Me and My people. Moses, it will take you all of eternity to contemplate the magnitude of this event; it is beyond human comprehension. The creation will last only for a time. The word of this covenant is an extension of who I AM, and anything that is an extension of who I Am lives and abides forever. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of My mouth.”

Our fast will have a great deal of human effort to it. We may decide when to fast, where to fast and how long our fasting will last.  But the divine enabling that we are seeking, the providential sustenance that we hope to get, and the power that we expect to come to us are not for a physical continuance with God, we engage in our fast with an understanding and longing for God to do something more for our inward man. When we rise from our fast, prepare to glow being filled with more of His grace.

  1. It is not the length of fast that will make a difference in me; it is the quality of fast I bring to God.
  2. It is not the strengthening of the outward man that we should seek; rather, it is inward man that needs a polishing. It needs to glow again for God.
  3. My fasting is not so much to get God to hear me; it is to enable me to listen to God.
  4. My fasting is not about going hungry – to be without food and water; it is to cause God to fill me again with the “bread of heaven.”

Remember, we have already come to our mountain – in Christ. Make your experience with Him means everything, and your fasting will help you accomplish that.


Nigel McPhersonNigel McPherson is a minister at the Beltway Church of Christ, 3600 Davis Boulevard, Camp Springs, MD 20746.

The Beltway Church of Christ is located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area in Prince George’s County, MD near Joint Base Andrews.

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