ANASAYFA Forum TURKISH CHRISTIAN FORUM (in English) Miscellaneaus Humility and Fasting in OT Scriptures

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    Humility and Fasting


    How does someone have a lifestyle of repentance?
    This question seems difficult at first because teshuvah, the scriptural process of repentance, is normally a private activity done while alone in the presence of Adonai.
    To better understand a lifestyle of repentance we must look a the steps of teshuvah. (Please see our vocabulary essay about teshuvah for more information, including a list of steps of teshuvah.)
    Some of the steps of teshuvah can be taught by being modeled. A few require some academic learning, such as what kind and amount of restitution God asks us to give when seeking reconciliation with someone we have wronged.
    The first and most teachable step of teshuvah is humility. Both Jewish and Christian culture have some wisdom and experience in how to develop humility, and how to help others do so.
    In Biblical Hebrew the relevant concepts are anah and kana, focusing on God as if before him on bent knees and doing acts that subdue our souls. (Please see our vocabulary essays about anah and kana for more information.)

    Activities of Humility

    How do we practice humility, as individuals or as a community of Yeshua’s disciples? Yeshua modeled several worthy behaviors that are central to Jewish life and can be taught by a congregation through discussion and example:

    • Pausing and focusing on God
    • Giving thanks to God when enjoying pleasures
    • Giving credit to God for his blessings
    • Following God’s guidance rather than making too many plans
    • Sharing stories and parables about the humble
    • Willingness to listen to constructive criticism
    • Not seeking revenge

    Christian culture has other ways to practice humility. Perhaps the most well known is the habit in Eastern Orthodox culture to “practice the presence of God” by continually repeating that faith’s Jesus Prayer very quietly. The most similar verse of scripture, appropriate for Messianic Jews wanting to try this exercise in humility, is Psalm 41:5(4).

    יי חנני רפאה נפשי כי חטאתי

    Adonai, chan-aynee, r’fa-ah naf-shee, kee (ah-nee) chata-tee.

    Adonai, be gracious unto me. Heal my soul, for I have sinned.

    Fast Days

    Even though humility is a type of focus we should always have, there are days that scripture mentions as appropriate for special devotion to humility, fasting, and prayer.
    These are appropriate occasions to study, discuss, and grow in humility, as well as occasions to focus on God for hours at a time without interruptions.


    As mentioned in the vocabulary essay about kana, fasting twice each week (probably skipping one or two meals each fast) was an established practice in the first century. This may or may not be an appropriate practice for Yeshua’s followers today, depending upon other aspects of their schedule and responsibilities.

    Yom Kippur

    Yom Kippur is a day that scripture asks the Jewish people to “anah their souls”. Traditionally this is done by fasting and abstaining from pleasures. (Please see our holiday essay on Yom Kippur for more information.)

    Remembering Tradgedy

    Zechariah 8:19 mentions four fast days that commemorate tradgedies related to the start of the Babylonian Exile.

    • The tenth day of Tevet (the tenth month), when Nebuchadnezzar began his seige of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:4, Second Kings 25:1)
    • The ninth day of Tammuz (the fourth month), when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:6-7, Second Kings 25:1-4)
    • The ninth day of Av (the fifth month), when the Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s captain of the guard (Jeremiah 52:12-14, Second Kings 25:8-9)
    • The third day of Tishri (the seventh month), when Gedeliah, the last governor of Judah, was assassinated, completing transfer of control to Nebuchadnezzar (Second Kings 25:22-25)

    These four days, although not required as fast days in scripture, are appropriate days to fast and pray for Israel’s protection.
    Of these four days, the most significant in Jewish culture is the ninth day of Av, Tish B’Av, on which many other tradgedies have also happened. (Please see our holiday essay on Tish B’Av for more information.)

    Rabbinic Fast Days

    Rabbinic culture has established two other fast days which may also be appropriate times for some of Yeshua’s followers to pray and fast.

    • The Fast of Esther happens on the thirteenth day of Adar. This is not the day Esther began her three-day fast; there are various Rabbinic traditions explaining why the thirteenth of Adar was chosen. It is an appropriate time to pray for Israel’s victory over its enemies and its relief from oppression.
    • The day before Pesach is called Tzom Bechorot, the Fast of the Firstborn. On this day firstborn male Jews traditionally fast and pray in gratitude for the firstborn of the Israelites being spared on that night during the Exodus.

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