Day Five – Declaration of Dependence
Fasting Date: Friday, February 09, 2018
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” (Ezra 8:21-24 ESV)
These verses were penned during a period in history when God’s people were returning to their homeland after having been exiled for the better part of a century. Their exile had been the result of their persistent rebellion against God and their refusal to turn from trusting in their idols. Now, God was bringing them back to their land and granting them the task of restoring his Temple. Ezra, a scribe known for being one who both studied and obeyed the Law of the Lord, was sent to accompany the returning Israelites and to teach them God’s Word and God’s ways. Rather than asking the king to provide them with protection for their journey, Ezra proclaimed a fast, calling the people to humble themselves before God and to seek from his hand safety for their journey.
In calling for a fast, Ezra reminds us that one purpose of this practice is to provide us with an opportunity to humbly acknowledge our own insufficiency and look instead to God’s all-sufficiency. It gives us a chance to examine ourselves and confess where we are prone to look to other places or other people for help instead of turning to God and trusting in him. Fasting gives us an occasion to declare our absolute dependence on God, and to exalt Him as being a good Father who faithfully takes care of the needs of his children. In fasting, we renounce our self-reliance and place our trust instead on our God who bids us to bring him honor and glory by seeking our help from his hand.
Reflection: Where have you been seeking help from the world instead of from the hand of your Father?