SHOULD CHRISTIANS FAST ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?Back to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index
Should the elect of God who live during the gospel age fast on the Day of Atonement just as ancient Israel did?
There is no doubt that the elect of God who lived during the time when the temple existed practiced many of the rituals and observances associated with the agreement with ancient Israel. But, does scripture support mandatory fasting on the Day of Atonement for the elect of God today?
There are three basic things that must exist in order for fasting on the Day of Atonement to fulfill the purpose for which it was intended:
1. A temple in Jerusalem in which God's presence can dwell.
2. A Levitical Priesthood to officiate on the Day of Atonement.
3. A sacrificial system officiated over by the Levitical Priesthood.
A short survey of the Books of the Law will reveal that it is impossible for the elect of God, an Israelite, or a Jew to observe the Day of Atonement as directed under God's first agreement with national Israel. Without a temple for God's presence to dwell in, a Priesthood, and a sacrificial system, the conditions and the reasons for which this national fast was intended do not exist. Therefore, it is impossible for the elect of God to fast as those under the agreement with ancient Israel did.
WHERE DOES GOD'S SPIRIT DWELL TODAY?
The apostle Paul's writings leave no doubt about where the spirit of God dwells on earth today:
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone corrupts the temple of God, God will bring that one to corruption; for the temple of God is holy, which you are" (1.Cor.3:16-17 KJV Para.). See also 1.Cor.6:19-20; 2.Cor.6:16.
The New International Version translators use even stronger language in their translation of these verses:
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 NIV).
The ancient Israelites fasted in order to show their obedience and to beseech God not to leave his dwelling place among them. Today, the children of God are the temple of the living God and they have his spirit dwelling within them with the promise that he will never leave them; therefore, there is no need for them to fast for the same reasons as the ancient Israelites:
"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him" (Jn.14:23 KJV).
"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matt.28:20 NIV). See also Heb.13:5.
THE ELECT ARE RECONCILED TO GOD
The children of God are reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, repentance, and baptism, and they have the presence of God dwelling within them through the holy spirit (1.Cor.6:19). Because of this, they are kept in a continual condition of righteousness and purity before God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Because children of God have the presence of God dwelling within them and the promise that God will not leave them, there is no logical reason for a child of God to fast on the Day of Atonement, which is the day on which Israel as a nation fasted in order show their sincere desire for him to dwell among them.
THE END-TIME TEMPLE
Some people might wonder if it is important for the elect of God to fast on the Day of Atonement when the Levitical priesthood begins to officiate in a temple dedicated to God in the future.
The scriptures confirm that, before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., many of the elect did participate in some of the rituals and observances of God's agreement with national Israel, which demanded a priesthood and temple for their practice. See Acts 21:17, 26-27, which is dated approximately 57-58 A.D.. This example of the early Christians shows that, when the temple system is again established in Jerusalem, if a child of God who lives during this time wants to fast on the Day of Atonement out of respect for the temple system, they could do so with a clear conscience. However, because God's spirit dwells within the elect of God, his children cannot fast for the same reasons as the Israelites did under the first covenant.
Only if the temple is rebuilt, the sacrificial system is established again, and God's presence dwells within that temple, can fasting on the Day of Atonement be done for the same reasons it was done in ancient Israel. However, it can only be done for those reasons by people who do not have the spirit of the Father and the spirit of the Son dwelling within them.