I’ve always assumed that this covering of the mouth was referencing abstaining from food or drink. However, a recent reading of Isaiah 58 led me to another potential meaning that I think has important implications.
In Isaiah’s words, we discover God’s people desiring to draw close to him and say, “Why, when we fast, do you not notice? We afflict our bodies and you remain indifferent!” (vs.3*)
They assumed that making themselves hungry and thirsty would earn them God’s attention. Are we the same in that we feel like enduring a lack of food and water is pleasing to God in and of itself? While I do think that strength can be found in the denial of food and water for a time to help build the mind’s ability to subdue the natural man, I think there are other aspects of the principle that we may be ignoring.
The Lord continues: “Your present fasts are not such as to make your voice heard on high. Is this the manner of fasting I have required, just a time for men to torment themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and making one’s bed of sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day of Jehovah’s good graces?” (vs.5)
If your fasting is filled with sorrow and self-deprivation then the Lord seems to indicate that you’re doing it wrong. Read Full Post
I had a moment of insight a few days ago with a friend of mine that was and is going through some hard times. He was telling me about a fast he was engaged in and several experiences where he had run his mouth in a manner that had caused a great deal of contention and conflict.
I couldn’t believe that he would say such things and then act somewhat surprised when people retaliated against him. I told my friend that “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) I then asked my friend if he knew what the word “fast” meant in Hebrew and he said that he did not. The word is tsuwm, and it means “to cover over (the mouth).” (Strongs)
When you fast your mouth is “covered” in the sense that you are restricting whatRead Full Post