Preceding that special fast of four years ago, a sermon series was given that covered the story of Esther in which she told her uncle Mordecai to request of the Jewish people in Persia that they fast for three days for their deliverance. It is an incredible story of how God delivered them and the fact that they so humbled themselves in fasting for such a long length of time. That event is commemorated, even to now, in the Jewish holiday of Purim.
That two-day fast of four years ago began on the weekly Sabbath of January 31, 2009, and the sermon given that day was entitled, “A Great Fast.” The purpose of that special fast was covered in that sermon. The sermon included the story of Elijah and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. King Ahab had gathered people together, including those prophets of Baal, at Mt. Carmel. It is there that Elijah spoke out and challenged the people with a decisive question: “How long will you stagger between two opinions?” He continued by saying, “If the Eternal is God then follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kg. 18:21).
Elijah continued by demonstrating the difference between what God performed through him and that of the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal who were impotent and futile in all that they attempted. Yet even in all this, neither the King nor the people turned to God. The Church has long understood that God’s purpose in the Thunders and Trumpets of Revelation is similar to what Elijah desired to see in his day, that the people would indeed be moved to turn to God.
That sermon at the end of January in 2009, which explained the purpose of the “great fast” that the Church was engaged in, emphasized the desire that Elijah had, which would not be fulfilled until God intervened in the affairs of mankind toward the end of 6,000 years of man’s self-rule. That is exactly what God is going to do in order to humble this world once the greater power of the Thunders, along with the Trumpets, is released. God’s Church believes that will happen in this daylight portion of the Day of the Lord.
As was stated in that sermon, the purpose of that special period of fasting was to petition God so that far larger numbers of people be brought to repentance and acceptance of His truth through the timing, repetition, and power of both the Thunders and Trumpets. God has indeed honored that fast, just as He honored the three-day fast of Esther and the Jewish people in their time, and has revealed some of the power in the Thunders over the past four years. Yet as in the time of Elijah, the world has not responded in the slightest. It was God’s purpose that the greatest power reserved in the Thunders, and the power to be released through the Trumpets, not be unleashed during these past four years. God’s will was to give mankind great mercy and condense this time for the very purpose of bringing many more to be saved in this end-time.
Larger Numbers to be Delivered
Over the past four years, God has extended His mercy upon mankind. God had earlier revealed, before the final end-time began, that His judgment would be far more severe and more in proportion to the haughty sins of mankind in this end-time. However, it has been God’s purpose to reveal the importance of His Church on earth and to magnify His merciful nature in the depth of His love toward His creation by condensing the length and severity of prophesied end-time events.
As an example, God’s righteous judgment toward His own Church that became lukewarm during the period of Laodicea was “set” in prophecy. Following the death of Herbert W. Armstrong and the end of the period of Philadelphia, God’s own people during Laodicea became so weak that an apostasy (great falling away from the truth) came to pass. All Laodicea had failed to stay alert and on guard as commanded. As a result, they fell asleep spiritually. This sin was far greater than anything the Israelites had done, as they did not have God’s spirit dwelling in them, whereas the Church did. God separated the Church from Himself because of this sin. Yet in His merciful judgment toward Laodicea, God prophesied that He would deliver a remnant of about 3,000 people out of that scattering and bring them back into a relationship with Him.
However, God’s purpose has always been to more fully reveal Himself in His true character and nature in the end-time as part of the Seventh Thunder. One of the greatest attributes of God’s nature toward His creation is that of love. That is magnified in the very mercy He has always shown, yet others seldom have recognized. So toward His own scattered Church, whose sins have been great by becoming lukewarm and then falling asleep spiritually, He is going to magnify the 3,000 who were judged to become a remnant by twenty-one times over, to 63,000 who will be blessed to be awakened spiritually and given the awesome blessing of living on into the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. This subject matter was covered May 23, 2012, in a post entitled, “God’s Church Reunited.”
For the Church that was scattered after the apostasy of Dec. 17, 1994, this is “good news,” or at least it will become good news once individuals begin to experience this awakening and reuniting in One Body. As God’s plan has progressively been revealed over the past 6,000 years, it is truly coming to an incredible crescendo as the final events of this age become fulfilled and Jesus Christ finally returns in His Kingdom.
Not only will larger numbers of the Church that was scattered be blessed to survive the devastation of end-time events, so will larger numbers within the scattered nations of Israel survive, but that number has not yet been fully established as much will be determined (judged) during the final stages of the Day of the Lord.
The Completion of a Three-Day Fast
That fast of four years ago was founded upon truth that God has revealed concerning the very purpose of fasting that is found in the Book of Isaiah. The heart and overall purpose is given in one primary verse.
“Isn’t this the fast that I have chosen? Isn’t its purpose to loosen [open or undo] the bands [fetters, cuffs, shackles – that which “holds” captive] of wickedness, to undo [remove] the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break [tear down] every yoke [word used for oppression]?” (Is. 58:6).
The purpose of fasting before God is to humble oneself and to then seek repentance and change in our own life so that we can more fully live this verse in our relationship to all others, wherever we can bring about such change through God’s help. This obviously has much to do with addressing those things that hold us in bondage of which we must repent. This also includes our desire to change in how we otherwise fail to love others by our placing undue stress and oppression on others by how we treat them.
God’s great desire and purpose through this final end-time that is now before us is to perform a great fulfillment of this very verse upon all the world. God is going to deliver this world from the bondage, burdens, and wickedness of this world’s ways and bring it into a new age of peace, truth, and justice in Christ’s reign on earth. Man will not choose the way of humility before God in order that such blessings of life can be experienced, so God is intervening to humble mankind so that He can give such blessings of life to all who live on into that Millennial period. What a paradox! Yet this will fully reveal the kind of love, mercy, and great patience God has exercised toward all.
God’s Church has come a long way, especially over the past four years. It has gone full circle in order to more perfectly fulfill a purpose God has inspired in the very reason His Church has humbled itself to engage in such a fast that began four years ago. The spiritual type of what Esther and the Jewish people did in their time by a three day fast is exactly what God has inspired His Church to exercise in a very specific purpose that was entered into on that two-day fast of January of 2009. Now this week, a third day has been added to fulfill a spiritual type of the fast of Esther, in seeking deliverance for this world.