Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Scripture Short - Fasting

In THIS article, I discussed fasting and abstinence in Christian tradition and explained how this practice is NOT at odds with 1Tim 4:3. Here, I simply provide some of the Scriptural passages that pertain to fasting, and let the Bible speak for itself.

Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went back to Bethel and wept, sitting there before the Lord; they fasted that day until evening. (Judges 20:26)

So they gathered at Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted that day, and said, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. (1Sam 7:6)

Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.(1Sam 31:13)

They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.(2 Sam 1:12)

David therefore pleaded with God for the child; David fasted, and went in and lay all night on the ground...[21]Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while it was alive; but when the child died, you rose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’(2Sam 12:16,21-22)

When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. (1 Kngs 21:27)

[A]ll the valiant warriors got up and took away the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days. (1Chron 10:12)

So we fasted and petitioned our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. (Ezra 8:21-23)

At the evening sacrifice I got up from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle torn, and fell on my knees, spread out my hands to the Lord my God... (Ezra 9:5)

When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. (Neh 1:4)

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.[(Neh 9:1)

Prayer with fasting is good, but better than both is almsgiving with righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than wealth with wrongdoing. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold. (Tobit 12:8)

And every man of Israel cried out to God with great fervor, and they humbled themselves with much fasting...[13] The Lord heard their prayers and had regard for their distress; for the people fasted many days throughout Judea and in Jerusalem before the sanctuary of the Lord Almighty. (Judith 4:9,13)

She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the day before the sabbath and the sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and the day of the new moon, and the festivals and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel. (Judith 8:6)

In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. (Esther 4:3)

They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and tore their clothes. (1Macc 3:47)

When they had all joined in the same petition and had implored the merciful Lord with weeping and fasting and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing, Judas exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready.(2Macc 13:12)

But as for me, when they were sick, I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting. I prayed with head bowed on my bosom...(Ps 35:13)

When I humbled my soul with fasting, they insulted me for doing so. (Ps 69:10)

My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt. (Ps 109:24)

Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. (Is 58:4)

Then they wept, and fasted, and prayed before the Lord; (Baruch 1:5)

Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him. (Dan 6:18)

Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. (Dan 9:3)

I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth, and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks. (Dan 10:3)

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; (Joel 2:12)

Say to all the people of the land and the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? (Zech 7:5)

He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. (Mt 4:2)

And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:16-18)

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Mt 9:14-15)

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. (Mk 2:18-20)

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. (Lk 2:36-37)

Then they said to him, “John’s disciples, like the disciples of the Pharisees, frequently fast and pray, but your disciples eat and drink.” Jesus said to them, “You cannot make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? The days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” (Lk 5:33-35)

They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer. (1Tim 4:3-5)

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3)

And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. (Acts 14:23)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Scripture Short - Drinking Wine

Many Christians come to face the question of whether it is okay to drink wine/alcohol. The Bible is clear that, while some wine drinking is good and approved by God, drunkenness is not.

“Then he said, ‘Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.’ So, he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.” (Gen 27:25)

“In the presence of the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose as a dwelling for his name, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, as well as the firstlings of your herd and flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if, when the Lord your God has blessed you, the distance is so great that you are unable to transport it, because the place where the Lord your God will choose to set his name is too far away from you, then you may turn it into money. With the money secure in hand, go to the place that the Lord your God will choose; spend the money for whatever you wish – oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together.” (Deut 14:23-26)

“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden then human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.” (Psalm 104:14-15)

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)

“Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more.” (Proverbs 31:6-7)

“Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do.” (Eccl 9:7)

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.” (Is 25:6)

“Ah, you who rise early in the morning in pursuit of strong drink, who linger in the evening to be inflamed by wine…[22] Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink…” (Is 5:11, 22)

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Lk 7:33-34)

“Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’” (Jn 2:2-10)

“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit…” (Eph 5:18)

“No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” (1Tim 5:23)