Then came the word of the LORD of hosts to me, saying,…
The inquiry of the text concerns the fast of the fifth month, which was observed as a sad remembrance of the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem. The exiles had three other fasts. Did they really serve any religious end and purpose? Did not the people content themselves with a mere external show and performance, without any inward affliction and humiliation of their souls, in order to a real repentance? Did they not still go on in their sins, nay, and add to them on these occasions, fasting for strife and debate and oppression? Were they not worse rather than better for them? And therefore God had no regard to them. Notwithstanding the outward solemnities of fasting and prayer, there was nothing of a religious fast; "Did ye at all fast unto Me, even unto Me?" The prophet Isaiah calls a true fast, the fast which God hath chosen, and an acceptable day to the Lord.
I. IN GENERAL, WHAT IS IT TO FAST UNTO GOD?
1. A truly religious fast consists in the afflicting of our bodies by a strict abstinence.
2. In the humble confession of our sins to God, with shame and confusion of face.
3. In an earnest deprecation of God's displeasure, and humble supplications to Him that He would avert His judgments, and turn away His anger from us.
4. In intercession with God for such spiritual and temporal blessings upon ourselves and others as are needful and convenient.
5. In alms and charity to the poor, that our humiliation and prayers may find acceptance with God.
II. IN PARTICULAR WHAT IS THE DUTY OF A DAY OF SOLEMN NATIONAL REPENTANCE AND HUMILIATION? Apply the above five essentials of a true fast to the particular circumstances of the day.
(J. Tillotson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,