Topic: Nineveh’s Fasting Experience [Sunday 14, May 2017]
Memorise: So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. – Jonah 3:5
Read: Jonah 3:1-10 (KJV)
1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Bible in One Year: Deuteronomy 21-22, Jeremiah 31:1-14, Hymn: Sing hymn 6
Fasting is a spiritual exercise every believer should often engage in because of the several benefits that can be derived from it. When the Lord was teaching His disciples about fasting during His earthly ministry, what He said to them was “When you fast” and not “If you fast” (Matthew 6:16). The Lord’s choice of words shows that He takes it as a given that you will have to fast. However, if you engage in a spiritual exercise such as fasting but lack an understanding of the basis for doing so, you may not be able to optimise your gains from it. In other words, it is important to know why you should fast and to know what you stand to gain from fasting. Knowledge plays a key role here.
Why should you fast? Prayer and fasting can help to restore spiritual fervour in your relationship with God. You can fast whenever you feel estranged or separated from God, whenever your heart is spiritually cold or when you sense that you lack sincerity in your humility. You can also fast as a mark of repentance, and to seek pardon and restoration from sin. Sin separates anyone from God, but if fasting is properly engaged, the estranged fellow can be drawn into God’s presence for mercy. If you take a look at Nineveh, you will see the effect of fasting in action. The people of Nineveh lived a very riotous life. They were engaged in several atrocities and abominable acts they called for God’s fiery judgment, like it happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. However, because of His righteous and merciful nature, God sent Jonah to go and warn them of His intention to destroy them because of their wickedness. As soon as Jonah sounded the warning, the people of Nineveh received the word and immediately declared a national fast. Nobody was exempted from this fast: the king, the nobles and even all their animals joined in the fast. Besides the fast from food and water, they abstained from all those things that provoked God’s anger, humbled themselves and cried out to God for mercy, and He heard them. Jonah 3:10 says,
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
If you realise you are far from God, you can set aside the things that gives the body pleasure; fast and pray earnestly, asking God for His mercy and you will see His hand. If done according to heaven’s pattern, fasting is an exercise that can easily cause God to notice you as a candidate of His mercy. How often do you fast?
Key Point: Fasting is a work of faith because it takes faith to fast and pray to a God you cannot physically see.
Open Heavens Daily Devotional guide was written by Pastor E.A. Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, one of the largest evangelical church in the world and also the President of Christ the Redeemer’s Ministries.