“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
A period of fasting can be analogous to our walk with God.
Day 1 - Excitement, hope and expectation
Day 2 - The weakness and challenges begin
Day 3 - Hump Day where it is darkest and the battle is most fierce, thoughts of compromise creep in, "Is it really worth it, does God really care, is this really doing anything?"
Day 4 - Don't give up now
Day 5 - Homestretch, running for the prize
Ephesians 5 - As you go along in life, it becomes the inward sins of heart, attitude and relating (i.e. - giving/sins of omission) that begin to prevail rather than sins of commission. This is where the deception is strongest and where we need Christ to shine on us with his Word and the counsel of others.
So the people of Israel came near against the people of Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed 18,000 men of the people of Israel. All these were men who drew the sword. Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And the people of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, “Shall we go out once more to battle against our brothers, the people of Benjamin, or shall we cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.” So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. And the people of Israel went up against the people of Benjamin on the third day and set themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times. And the people of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city. And as at other times they began to strike and kill some of the people in the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the open country, about thirty men of Israel. And the people of Benjamin said, “They are routed before us, as at the first.” But the people of Israel said, “Let us flee and draw them away from the city to the highways.” And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place and set themselves in array at Baal-tamar, and the men of Israel who were in ambush rushed out of their place from Maareh-geba. And there came against Gibeah 10,000 chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them. And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword. So the people of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah.
"I'm - I'm sorry, Father."...
"I wanted you to do it all for me. I wanted everything to be all easy and simple...so I tried to pretend that it was all your fault...because I was scared, and I didn't want to have to do anything myself."
-Meg Murry in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (p. 180)
Think of Abram beating off the vultures in Genesis 15
*It wasn't as if the Israelites hadn't inquired of the Lord the two days before when they had gone up against the Benjaminites and were defeated.
This time they fasted, and offered both burnt and peace offerings.
What did these represent?
Looking to Jesus and the gospel. A dealing with their own sin. Repentance....
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
The Lord never said prior to their fasting and verse 28 that he was going to give the Benjaminites into the Israelites' hands, he simply said who should go up. God is here giving the people the proper instruction regarding proper dependence on him in everything.
But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
The Israelites had to overcome the discouragement that it looked like things were going the same way unto their defeat even after God made the promise. They had to stand in faith and be nimble enough to do something different in the midst of the fight.
Fasting for Breakthrough
What have you known is good in God to have or do, but you've seemingly failed at time and again?
i.e. - Relationships
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
After the fast, they still had to go out and fight again, this time with God's supernatural backing for a breakthrough.
Try, Try Again
Second City Church - A New Hope Sermon Series - Rollan Fisher 2017