Lent Reflection: Fasting Can Change History
In history, many Christians have used Lent as a time for fasting. Fasting is a biblical way for self-humbling, but it can also affect the destiny of cities, nations and empires. Our first example is from the book of Jonah. God called Jonah, the Israelite prophet, to go to Nineveh, a Gentile city and the capital of the Assyrian Empire:
On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.’ (Jonah 3:1–4 NIV)
The response of the Ninevites was remarkable:
The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. (Jonah 3:5–6 NIV)
The Ninevites not only fasted and covered themselves with sackcloth, they made a proclamation to ‘give up their evil ways and their violence.’
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:9–10 NIV)
Nineveh was spared for almost two hundred years before it was finally destroyed. During that time in Israel, God had various prophets, such as Amos and Hosea, who brought the message of the warning of judgment and the call to repentance to Israel, but they did not turn.
God’s judgment of Israel is a warning to the Church. Could it be that God has been speaking, but we have been as deaf as the people of Israel?
This reflection is taken from