By Bob Barney
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.” — Zechariah 8:19
Fasting in the Bible has been a longstanding practice, in some instances tied to the observance of key festivals and holy days, but also as a communal response to tragedies and a call to repentance. References to fasting can be found in the books of Samuel, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, and more. It was quite natural in ancient times for people to fast as part of their service to God. Spontaneous personal and communal fasts were also common.
Six official days, however, are also mentioned in the Bible as a time for fasting. So what are these fast days and why were they established to be observed for generations to come?
The first and most paramount of all fast days is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Of all the fast days, this day alone was prescribed by God in the Bible. In Leviticus 16:29 we are commanded to “deny yourselves” on Yom Kippur. This included eating or drinking, washing or bathing, marital relations, wearing leather shoes, and applying luxurious oils. As the name of the day would suggest, denying ourselves is part of the process of attaining atonement on Yom Kippur. This is a fast of repentance, and appropriately, the day is spent mostly in prayer and introspection.
Yom Kippur is considered a major fast day, it has only one other counterpart — the fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, which is the 5th month in God's year... This fast commemorates the monumental events of the destruction of both the First and Second Temple in Jerusalem — both of which occurred hundreds of years apart on the same exact day. In truth, this day was destined to be a day of calamity as, according to Jewish tradition, it was on this day that the 12 spies sent by Moses to see the Promised Land returned to the Israelites with a bad report, causing the people’s hearts to turn away from God. Because of that, God barred that generation from entering the Promised Land and sent them back into the desert to wander for another 40 years.
Both the First and Second Temples were destroyed on this day as well as a host of other Jewish tragedies throughout history: the defeat of Bar Kochba’s revolt, thus ending Jewish resistance to the Romans (135 CE); the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the onset of the Spanish Inquisition (1492); and more recently, the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camps (1942).
I often mention that God's calendar is NOT like any other calendar on earth today. It is not the Roman calendar that we follow, or the equally pagan Jewish calendar that many churches believe is the calendar of God. To read more about God's Calendar click here . There is a mistake that those who follow a Jewish calendar has made, and that refers to the word for new moon. That is a mistranslation, as the proper rendering should be NEW MONTH, as I did in The Plain Truth's Red Letter Bible.
The Hebrew word 'chodesh', which is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance simply means "new" or to "rebuild." Chodesh does not mean "new moon". It means 'new' with an implication that a month is about to begin again.
Originally, when the earth had a perfect 360 day rotation around the sun, and the moon's journey around the earth was exactly 30 days (today it is 29.5 days), new moons where on the new months. The calendar was in balance. However, probably after the flood, the weight of water slowed the earth rotational spin (this is NOT mentioned in the Bible) to 365.25 days a year and the moon's rotation to the present one of 29.5 days.
The ancients noticed that the months were no longer 30 days and the years were not 360 days, but now over 365. A calendar needed to be made to reflect this. Egypt made the first perfect calendar, one Moses was very familiar with, which had 12 - 30 day months and then 5 days at the end of the year that did not count. This is also seen in Enoch's calendar (see illustration on left).God's calendar was like the Egyptian one except that year no longer started on the first day of summer, but on the first day of spring. Springtime is the birth of the new year in nature, as morning is the start of the day as well. The term for new moon became "new month" as the new moons and new months no longer matched up. This is not hard to conceive as the English word for month comes from moon! Yet our months have nothing to do with new moons! The same applies to God's calendar.