So as we come to a new Day of Atonement this year, we can think about what we do and what it means. It is a day to fast, as stated in Leviticus 23:26–32. The New Century Version translates verse 27 this way: “The Day of Cleansing will be on the tenth day of the seventh month. There will be a holy meeting, and you will deny yourselves and bring an offering made by fire to the Lord.”
In Acts 27:9 we read about the Fast being kept by the early Church: “Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them” (NKJV).
So if you choose to keep this Holy Day and follow the command to fast, i.e. to go without food and water for the whole day, from sunset to sunset, what can we learn from that? And is fasting good for us?
There are many health gurus who advocate fasting as a great way to cleanse and detox the body. As the food we eat goes into our bodies, sometimes these foods contain toxins, and other impurities, which can harm us as they build up within us. Fasting causes the body to look for its energy sources from within, rather than taking it from the foods and nourishment entering the digestive system. The body stores indigestible matter, including toxins, inside fat cells in the body, or coats them with mucus. If we have a lot of toxins and indigestible stuff that the body cannot handle, it will build up and eventually the body gets sick because of it, and in some cases cancer can result.
Things like roughage go through the body rather than being digested, but that is by design which God put in place. The roughage helps to clean out the colon, to stop the build up of debris, mucus and toxins. This can come from the fibre in fruits and vegetables, things like brown rice and other healthy grains (although not all grains are good for us, due to genetic modification or cross-pollination).
So a fast is good for the body, as it causes the body to release fat for energy, which releases toxins, and allows the body to then process these to remove them from the body. Normally the body might be so busy eating, that it cannot detox at the same time, so it puts off detoxing to a later time. When nothing is coming in, then the body gets a rest from having to process all the food (or junk) it would normally have to deal with. Drinks can also contain toxins, unless you are drinking pure water (such as from a distiller or reverse osmosis water filter).
So why did God establish a day of fasting for the Day of Atonement? Is it beneficial for us? As I have stated, the body sometimes needs a rest from eating, so fasting is good for that. The Day of Atonement is a day when our bodies can detox, and get the toxins out. In a normal health-based fast, a person might drink lots of water to enable the detoxing to work without getting dehydrated. But if going without water on the Day of Atonement then that is harder to cope with, but still good for the body to rest from physical food and other drinks.
The spiritual aspect of all this is that the spiritual part of us also needs a detox from time to time. We take in all sorts of spiritual nourishment and harm, good and bad thoughts, various experiences which can provoke all kinds of reactions within us, some good, and sometimes we have carnal reactions to situations, such as anger, fear, worry, hate and hopelessness.
When God told us to fast, He also means that on the Day of Atonement we can be detoxed spiritually. This world around us is controlled and influenced by Satan and his demons. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:4 (New Century Version): “The devil who rules this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe. They cannot see the light of the Good News — the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is exactly like God.” The NKJV calls Satan “the god of this age”.
Satan puts out evil thoughts all the time. Look at Ephesians 2:2 (Living Bible): “You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord.”
One of the meanings of the Day of Atonement is that it pictures the putting away of Satan after Christ returns, as we read in Revelation 20:1–3, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.” (NKJV)
When we fast, we should remember that we should be getting close to God, away from Satan, and being spiritually detoxed. It can be a time of reflection and meditation, looking at what sins we might have within ourselves, what carnal thoughts still lurk there, and ask God to remove those spiritual toxins instead of remaining carnal. We can physically detox our bodies through fasting, and spiritually we ask God to detox us and remove sinful thoughts.
Of course, in the flesh we can never be perfect. We can never totally remove all the physical toxins or give ourselves perfect health. Spiritually we can never be perfect in the flesh — there will always be hidden sins, bad habits, and other spiritual defects, impurities and toxins that have such a strong foothold in us that they cannot be removed — until we are converted into spirit beings in the Kingdom of God. Only when we are composed entirely of spirit can we be perfect. So when we fast we can practice being spirit beings, not concerned so much with the things of the flesh nor the things of this world, but concentrating on being like Jesus Christ and having a close relationship with our Saviour and with God the Father.
And when the Day of Atonement is over, we go back to eating and drinking and our normal physical lives. But do not forget to continue to spiritually be detoxed and get close to God. It is a day of cleansing (physically) but we have to continue to be cleansed spiritually, which takes a lifetime. If we are not willing to be spiritually detoxed, then the spiritual toxins can lead to a spiritual cancer. Of course, we do not detox ourselves spiritually, it is God who works in us to do that.
The reward of following God now and getting close to Him, and having His Holy Spirit in us (for those who are blessed enough to have been called and chosen at this time) is given in Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (NKJV)
If we are Christians, let us get close to God now, spiritually detox and get ready for our glorious future as immortal spirit beings in the Kingdom of God.