Meaning of Daniel’s Fast
“And the King (Nebuchadnezzar) appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king,” (Daniel 1:5).
From my experience with fellow Believers and secular people alike, when they talk about the Daniel’s Fast I’m always confused. They are not speaking about the actual fast in (Daniel 10:2-3) but the situation recorded in, (Daniel 1:1-21). So to answer the question : “What is the Meaning of Daniel’s Fast?” I will examine both scenarios. We should always read Scriptures through the eyes of the original audience then apply any principle we learn to our contemporary lives not the other way. Do not “bend” the Scriptures to fit your present lifestyle.
First, in (Daniel 9:3), Daniel purposed in his heart to seek God “…by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” While he was praying, the Lord answered him for an angel, Gabriel, came and spoke to him. Gabriel explained to Daniel he had come to give him “skill and understanding”, (Daniel 9:22). Gabriel explained further that Daniel would receive from God “skill and understanding” in relation to Jeremiah’s writings. Specifically, he would understand the number of years when the “the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem,” (Daniel 9:2).
Daniel Explains the Meaning of Daniel’s Fast
First, we need to be aware of the mindset leading to an Old Testament fast. Fasting was “mourning”, “affliction”, “weeping”, “crying”, “sitting in ashes”, wearing “sackcloth” and done publicly or often times as a group, (2 Samuel 1:12; 2 Samuel 12:16,21-23; 1 Kings 21:27; Nehemiah 1:7; Joel 1:14; 2:12;Jonah 3:5; Ezra 8:21). It was a public show of repentance or repenting, (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13). The Jews never practiced “partial fasts”, that is of the world not the Church. Matter of fact, their fast circumstances and situation would not allow them to practice partial fasts. Let us not attempt to impose our fast practices on them for we will miss the whole point of fasting.
Daniel said, “I ate no pleasant bread,” by no means meant he ate unpleasant bread. The meal consists of meat(s), food other than meats and drink (wine). Matter of fact, “bread” is a generic way of saying he ate no food as distinct from meats. The statement Daniel made, “Neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth,” merely emphasized his first statement. He is making a distinction because bread is food and meat is food also so, no flesh meaning no meats. So Daniel is saying he had nothing to eat whether bread or meat or wine, nothing. This is similar to “fish and loaves” in (Matthew 14:17). Please understand the language and its connotations. “Neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled,” in Daniel’s words, he mourned for three “full” weeks. Is there such a thing as partial mourning? Then there is no partial fast either.
The Meaning of Daniel’s Fast Has No Connection to Your Interpretation
Secondly, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed a diet for three years for “certain of The Children of Israel” who were to “stand before him” including Daniel (Belteshazzar) and his three countrymen: Hananiah (Shadrach); Mishael (Meshach); and to Azariah (Abednego), (Daniel 1:3-4, 7). Is a diet the same thing as fasting?
Recall, these are Hebrew young men living in captivity in Babylon. The eating habits of the Jewish people are totally different from everyone else on earth because the Lord gave them instructions what to eat and not to eat, (Leviticus 11:1-47).
In the eyes of the Hebrew people the Babylonians are heathens and polytheistic. Daniel was cognizant of this and decided in his heart not to “defile himself” with the king’s food and drinks, (Daniel 1:8) because the food was not according to God’s commandment and it may have been offered to their many gods before being served to them.
Recall, the King had appointed his Master Chef to feed a selected group of young Jewish men for three years. At the end of this time of fattening up, he would present them to “stand before” the king. The king wanted those who would be working before him to look fat and well fed. There should be no confusion concerning the meaning of Daniel’s Fast and the King’s menu.
What Daniel and his companions did next was the ultimate in proving God by faith. They knew if they honor God’s Word He would honor them in return. God’s Word means more to Him than his names, (Psalm 138:2). Instead of the king’s menu Daniel and his friends requested “pulse and water,” Daniel 1:12. Pulse is a type of “edible seeds of certain leguminous plants, as peas, beans, or lentils”.
At first , the manager in charge of them, Melzar, was hesitant as he realize if these lads look leaner than all the others the king could order his execution for neglect of duties, (Daniel 1:10).
It is important to note there were other Jewish youngsters there who ate the king’s food defiled themselves and never saw anything wrong in disobeying God’s commandment. This is revealed in Melzar’s reply to Daniel’s request: “for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort?” (Daniel 1:10).
The Meaning of Daniel’s Fast Validated by a Test
In order to win Melzar’s approval for their scheme Daniel came up with a test. He and his three companions would eat pulse and water for ten days. At the end of that duration, all the youngsters who ate the king’s food features would be compared to Daniel’s and his friends’. Melzer agree to the test, (Daniel 1:14). How is a substitute meal a fast?
After the trial period was ended, the comparison was made between Daniel and his comrades. Daniel and friends looked better living on pulse and water, (Daniel 1:15), than all the others who ate the King’s food and drank his wine. This is the work of God. It was Christ that kept them, nourished, and sustained them. After the test was over Daniel and his friends ate this same menu for three years until it was time to be before the king. Daniel’s Fast is not about food but faith in the Almighty God. The Word of God kept Daniel and his friends. Daniel faith paid off. Today, what is known, as Daniel’s Fast has no Biblical origin. Daniel’s Fast of today is totally different from what is recorded in the Bible.
In closing, folks I submit to you that Daniel and his friends were not drinking regular water but Living Water. They were drinking the living water which is Christ himself (John 7:38). So Melzar, removed the king’s food and drinks and replaced it with pulse and water for three years, (Daniel 1:16).
If you were at a restaurant, would you be fasting if you change your order from steak to salad? In principle, that is what Daniel and his three friends did, they requested a change in menu. Who fast for three years!! Therefore, the Daniel’s fast is NOT to abstain from meats and consume only vegetables and water but is a complete abstinence fast as described in Daniel 10:2-3. Today, Christians need “skill and understanding” concerning Daniel’s Fast. Let us not join those who distort the Word of God ignorantly or otherwise for God will judge them for it. However, let us teach as the Bible teaches, as God enlightens us and not after man’s cunning for financial remuneration.
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