Category: Bible Study

How long did Jesus fast?

How long did Jesus fast?

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Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. 

The Devil Tempts Jesus

In Matthew 4:1-11, this section of the chapter is titled “The Temptation of Jesus.” This chapter of the Bible tells a story of Jesus before he began his ministry. He was brought to a desert where he fasted for forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by the devil.

In verse 2, it notes that Jesus was hungry and that is when the devil came to tempt him. The devil tested Jesus’ hunger and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” In response, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 which says, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Jesus could have done what the devil asked him to do – as the Messiah, he was able to perform signs, miracles and wonders. But if he obeyed the devil, then Jesus would no longer belong to God. He would fall for the devil – just as Eve was tempted by the serpent – and would no longer be able to carry out the work he was supposed to. Jesus had the Word in his heart, depended on it like it was food, and was able to outwit the devil. After this, Jesus began his ministry. 

True Food & Time for Fasting

In John 4:31-34, Jesus continues to explain how the Word, or the work of God, is like food to him. John 4 is the chapter where Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. Worried about Jesus, as it mentions in verse 6 that he was “tired from the journey,” the disciples demand him to eat something.

But what was Jesus’ response?

“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” The disciples question what this food is or where he got it from (they think Jesus is referring to physical food!). Then, Jesus continues, saying, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

We can see that Jesus’ references to food in the Bible goes beyond mere physical food, but is regarding something spiritual. Of course, physical food is still important – we could not survive without it – but the greater of these things is spiritual because it will last for eternity. 

Other Biblical Figures Who Fasted

There are many other biblical figures who fasted as well. Moses also fasted for forty days and forty nights when God gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28).

Nehemiah also fasted. In Nehemiah 1, Nehemiah breaks down after hearing Jerusalem is in trouble. “For some days,” Nehemiah says, “I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

Daniel and his three friends also fasted from the food and drink that the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, offered them (Daniel 1) because they did not want to defile themselves. God was well pleased with Daniel and his friends who had refused the royal food from Babylon and granted these four men knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning, and Daniel was able to understand visions and dreams (Daniel 1:11-17).

Why Do Believers Fast Today?

Throughout these examples of fasting, we can see that it was done during a time of testing, mourning, or out of reverence for God. Today, Christians follow the same tradition.

There are many stories Christians have regarding times of fasting, when they did so, how long, etc, but many fast for forty days and forty nights to honor Jesus. To Christians, it is like a sacrificial offering to God.

Often believers will fast themselves of people or things that distract them from God as a show of devotion to God, but even in thinking of what can lead people astray from God, then it is also imperative to consider false teachings.

For what did Jesus first say in his response to the disciple’s question of what the signs would be for his second coming? In Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus responds, “Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” As these words were spoken as a warning to believers today, then what actions must be taken to heed and obey these commands?

Last Thoughts….

With the large amount of speculation regarding the mysterious called the Bible, there are copious amounts of books filled with commentaries and interpretations attempting to dissect the thoughts of God.

However, as said in 1 Corinthians 2:11, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Rather than relying upon the ideas of man to explain the higher thoughts of God (Isaiah 55:8-9), the standard for learning and understanding the word must come from the Bible which contains God’s heart and will for humanity. 

While fasting is a tradition that is carried out today by various churches and denominations all across the globe, are believers able to understand the reason in which it is done? What is the “food” that God desires us to fast from today?

Mysterious Beginnings of the Bible: Who Wrote Genesis? How Old is the Earth?

Mysterious Beginnings of the Bible: Who Wrote Genesis? How Old is the Earth?

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The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and often one of the books that most believers know better than many other books within the Bible. Every believer knows about the famous story of Adam and Eve, even the stories of Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Esau, and so on.

Many of such stories are taught to believers early on and serve as moral guidance on what believers of God should live like, apart from being fun stories to think about. I mean, who is placed in paradise by God and receives a command to be fruitful and multiply from God Himself just to end up being deceived by a talking serpent? Who gets commanded to preach for 950 years about an impending flood, builds a huge ark that will host two animals of every kind, and survives a 40-day long flood? These stories are not only pretty fun to read but also a good way to perceive more about God’s power and greatness.

What is the Purpose of the Bible?

As believers, we believe that God left Scripture for our benefit, for us to get to know Him, receive guidance, be strengthened, and be prepared for the time of Jesus’ Second Coming especially.

However, many times, we may wonder about how it is that we can use books like Genesis for this purpose. How can fantastical stories about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Esau, and more, help us become better believers? How concretely can we answer this question with tangible ways in which we can improve our lives of faith according to Scripture? In order to do this, we must first understand the nature of God’s Scripture.

In 2 Tim 3:16, we can see that the Scriptures of the Holy Bible are inspired by God. This is how we know that Scripture does not simply contain mundane accounts of world history, but rather accounts regarding God and His people, which are recorded with a specific purpose orchestrated by God. 

Who Wrote Genesis?

A big question that many believers ask themselves is regarding the author of the book of Genesis. There are many accounts that serve as evidence for Moses being the one who recorded the book of Genesis. The first five books, also known as the Pentateuch, have long been said to be recorded by Moses. The Pentateuch was originally one book, but it was divided into five separate books for the sake mere convenience. It is said that the amount of detail found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy is significant evidence for Moses being the one who recorded them, as he was the pastor that God chose to use in those eras.

Moses, the prophet

This still leaves us with the question regarding Genesis. The events recorded in Genesis, historically, took place about 2,500 years before the time of Moses. How could Moses then record the events of Genesis in such detail. Does this mean that the book of Genesis is all a lie? We can find the answer to these questions within Scripture. Among other verses, the verse mentioned previously gives us the answer to how Moses was able to record such events, which is by being inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16). As believers, we do not read or follow the Holy Bible because it is a book written by man, but because it is a book authored by God.

How Old is the Earth? 6,000 years? 4.5 Billion Years?

The earth has been around for millions of years now and there have been many claims regarding how old the earth is. A lot of scientific evidence has proven that the earth is at least 6 million years old. One of the ways this is proven is by using carbon dating, a method that allows carbon interacting with oxygen to determine the age of the world. Other evidence can be found through fossils and the discovery of extinct ancient species.

Though science is a relatively reliable method to assess the age of the earth, the discourse regarding the age of the earth is oftentimes not far from Christianity and what the Bible has to say about the age of the earth. Creationism for instance, was derived from fundamentalist sects of Christianity. 

Fundamentalists believe that the Bible should be interpreted literally and according to the Bible, the earth is 6000 years old. Of course this comes with numerous disputes from scientific evidence proving otherwise.

These exchanges of information between two different approaches to the age of the earth begs the question; how old is the earth according to the Bible, and how can we understand it correctly? Many people, even believers, do not give much thought regarding the creation story and what the purpose of it is.

Oftentimes believers choose to not delve into answering this question as it seems that science and Christianity do not go hand in hand. If the supporting evidence proves the earth to be millions of years old, then why does it say otherwise in the Bible? Well are different ways of actually making sense of the Bible and the way it explains the world

What is the Bible truly about?

The Bible is actually very accurate and true if we are able to understand it correctly. But first we must ask ourselves, is the Bible really talking about the creation of the physical world?

We have already established that the world is millions of years old, so how come the Bible only describes the world to be thousands of years old? Well the Bible actually talks about the creation of the world, but not in the way that we imagine it.

For example, in Jeremiah 4:23, it describes the world to be in the same condition as Genesis 1:2. So did the creation of the world happen again at the time of Jeremiah? Well if we take a look at the verses before, it actually talks about God’s people. 

The Bible in fact, talks about God’s people and their relationship with God Himself. Even at the very last book of Revelation, it says in Revelation 22:21 that it’s God’s people the Bible is concerned about. Understanding the Bible correctly will help us reason and perceive that science and God’s Word actually make perfect sense. In order to do so, we must first examine the way we understand both science and God’s Word.

Balak and Balaam: The Bible Characters

Balak and Balaam: The Bible Characters

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If you have ever scanned through Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Asia in Rv 2-3, you may have come across these confusing words spoken to the Church in Pergamum in Rv 2:14;

Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

Who are these characters Balaam and Balak? These historical figures did not exist at the time of Revelation’s writing, but actually lived around 1500 years prior. Let’s take a look at their story in Numbers.

Who were Balak and Balaam?

Balak and Balaam are the historical characters.

In Numbers 22, we see that Balak is the son of Zippor, the king over the gentile nation of Moab.

At this point in time, the Israelites had fled slavery in Egypt and moved through many territories in their journey through the desert to reach the Promised Land. All the while, totally defeating the foreign gentiles that lived in these territories along the way. In this chapter, they had just camped in the plains of Moabs after defeating the King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan in Numbers 21.

Balak and the Moabites, reasonably so, are terrified of these Hebrews. As any responsible prince would do, Balak sends messengers to a sorcerer, Balaam, to place a curse on these threatening people of Israel. Interestingly, although Balaam is a gentile sorcerer, he speaks with the God of Israel.

Balaam’s Talking Donkey

Hebrews are considered as the threatening people of Israel. So Balak tries to curse them.

God comes to Balaam to tell him not put a curse on the Israelites, and so at first Balaam dismisses Balak’s request. However Balak persists, and God allows Balaam to go with them, but instructs Balaam to only do what He tells him.

When Balaam is on his way to Moab, an angel with a sword blocks the road. Balaam’s trusty steed, a donkey, can see the angel and continuously moves off the road. However, Balaam cannot see this holy roadblock and beats his donkey three times in confusion and frustration. Finally the Lord saves the poor donkey from animal abuse and opens her mouth to rebuke her owner! After that, God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, who reminds Balaam once again to go with the Balak’s men but only do what God says.

Balaam’s Failed Curses

When Balam and Balak meet, Balaam utters five oracles from God, however, each time instead of cursing the Israelites, he blesses them instead. The oracles praise Israel and its people, prophesies of a heroic ruler and the destruction of Israel’s enemies. While Balak gets angrier each time Balaam blesses the people, Balaam reminds him that he can only do what the Lord tells him. After that each of the men went their separate ways.

The Enticing Moabite Women

At some point, Israeli men had relationships with Moabit women.

It seems like Balaam kept his word to God, and did the right thing in a tough situation. And the Israelites looked as though set up for success in their next campaign against Moab. But for some reason, the events turned south.

In Numbers 25, we see that the Israeli men started engaging in relations with the Moabite women, who also goaded them into worshipping and sacrificing to their Moabite gods. Again, the Israelites broke the First Commandment of the Ten; “do not worship other gods before me.” The worst offense occurred when an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman home to his family while the whole assembly was weeping because of this very situation. Imagine how that ‘first time meeting the parents’ went.

However, did this sexual immorality between the Moabite and Midianite women and Israeli men simply result from the irrationality of star-crossed lovers…the origin of the age-old Romeo and Juliet arc? No. It was all according to a plan.

Balaam’s Plot against Israel

After the Israelites reconciled with God once again, God told them to take vengeance on the Midianites. One may read with surprise that, in Num 31:8, Balaam was killed along with Midianites five kings. What happened?

As we read on, we see that God asks why the Midianite women were spared, when they followed Balaam’s advice to turn the Israelites away from Him. Thus we can conclude that while Balaam at first blessed the Israelites, he ultimately taught Balak the way to curse the Israelites, as mentioned in our first reference, Rv 2:14; to have the women seduce the Israelite men.

As such, before praising the name of Balaam and naming your next child after him, an important takeaway from this story is to always understand the context of the Bible, and to read the whole story. Would we have came to the conclusion that Balaam, in fact, was a man who opposed God instead of obeyed Him? Not if we fell asleep from Numbers 26-30, which recorded the account of the census and a repetition of the laws.

A question still remains; why would Jesus warn the early Christian church of Pergamum, established a millennia and a half later, about the teachings of Balaam, a man long dead? We must conclude that there is a deeper meaning in this letter than meets the eye, and in all the seven letters to all these seven churches in Rv 2-3 as well. Together let’s pray for God’s will in our lives to reveal to us the true understanding of Revelation, the promise that has been left to believers today.