In 2007, Susan Gregory started a blog about “The Daniel Fast.” In 2010, she wrote a book about it. Joel Osteen came across it, actively proposed it to his church and TV audience. Now, it’s all over the web, and the majority of churches seemingly participate. It’s exciting because it’s one size fits all, no matter your state of health. Children and teenagers are encouraged to give up TV, ipods, computers, etc, so they can also fast. It sounds biblical…just as every man marries a woman is biblical. But does this Daniel fast line up with the Word of God? Are there two or three scriptures supporting it?
The name Daniel means: judge of God. When the Israelites ignored God’s warnings, as judgment, He handed them over to the Babylonian’s. Jerusalem was besieged, the house of God looted, and captives taken (This happened around 600 BC). After returning home, Nebuchadnezzar commanded the master of the eunuchs, Ashpenaz, giving specific instructions in choosing his future servants and advisers. From among the captives, Ashpenaz was to pick out only those who were sons and princes of the Israeli king. They were to be attractive, without skin blemish (no zits, moles, eczema, or warts), wise, cunning in knowledge, understand science, and, know royal protocol so they can conduct themselves properly in the palace. Those who Ashpenaz chose, were to be taught the Chaldean language, law, and history. Nebuchadnezzar wanted only the best to serve him, so he planned on feeding them the best of foods—the same that was served to him. After three years of learning and eating the kings food, they were to be brought before the king for questioning—a final exam.
The Babylonian’s took Daniel from his family, took him from his home, took him from his country, took his princely Israeli clothes, took his language, took the Jewish traditions, took his name, then took his manhood. How do I know Daniel was a eunuch? Ashpenaz was master of all the eunuchs; under Ashpenaz, an un-named prince of eunuchs, who changed their names and appointed Melzar over the four Judean youngsters. There was a master and a prince of eunuchs, which means they were over, or had charge of…eunuchs. The king wouldn’t have given the titles of “master of eunuchs,” and “prince of eunuchs,” if the young men they had charge of were not eunuchs. So, continuing, there was only one other thing the Babylonian’s could take from him…his life. But Daniel had God. The Babylonian’s couldn’t take God from him—Daniel would’ve had to discard Him.
Now, as soon as Daniel saw what sort of food they were expected to eat, he “purposed in his heart” he wasn’t going to eat any of that garbage. That word purposed, means: to put. What did he “put” in his heart? God’s laws, according to the Pentateuch. God’s prophets often warned against strong drink, and the Babylonian wine wasn’t like the watery, grape juice that he was used to drinking. If you’ll do research on the type of wine the Hebrews drank, you’ll discover that it was extremely watered down.
When someone fasted, the bible states that they fasted, and there’s no word here about fast, fasting, fasted, fasteth, or fastings. Now, God had put Daniel in good favor “and tender love” with the prince of eunuchs. When I looked up “tender” in Strong’s Concordance, there’s a blank—which means it’s not in the original manuscript. Neither is “love.” Talk about taking liberties—I always thought that statement was weird anyway (why would God want a eunuch to have tender love for you?).
Okay, so he has favor with a man in authority (favor is good, tender love, not so much). So Daniel speaks to the prince of eunuchs about the food and drink they’re required to consume. But the man is deathly afraid of Nebuchadnezzar, mentioning the fact that it was the king who appointed this exotic food and drink. He also reminds Daniel he could lose his head. Daniel broke the chain of command when he went to the prince of eunuchs (probably because he sensed the favoritism), so he backs up, and speaks to Melzar, who has charge over himself and three others. Without mentioning the earlier conversation, he challenges Melzar to test them for ten days. He says; “Let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.” The word pulse, means anything planted—vegetables, and fruit. Ten days later, Melzar decided they looked healthier than the rest of the young men, so they ate a vegetarian diet for three years. How do I know it was three years? In Daniel 1:18, it says; “Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in…” End of what days? Look at Daniel 1:4,5—for three years they were to learn to speak, read, and write Chaldean, learn their history, and laws, while eating the king’s dainties.
As referenced above, every time someone fasted, the Bible said so—still no word that they fasted, because they were on a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet is not a fast. A fast is deliberately depriving yourself of food and/or water, for the purpose of petitioning God about a specific problem. And Daniel and his friends didn’t eat veggies for ten days while in training, it was three years. The Bible mentions one time, and one time only, that Daniel fasted, in chapter nine.
“In the first year of Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolation of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” Daniel 9: 1-3
The books referred to here were, centuries later, combined into one (the bible). Besides praying three times a day, he reads the word of God. While reading the prophecies of Jeremiah, he’s shocked to learn he’ll never again see his beloved country. For the first time in his life, he goes on a true fast, and wears sackcloth, while sitting among ashes.
That word fasting is a Hebrew primitive root word, tsûwm (tsoom); to cover over (the mouth). There’s absolutely no question that Daniel didn’t eat food. No lengthy descriptions of avoiding certain foods. He fasted. With all the articles online about the Daniel fast, none point to this, when Daniel fasted among the ashes, seeking an answer from God. Why are we not following this example of Daniel? Because it’s not easy! Living off nothing but water for days until we hear from God, is just too hard for Christians who’re busy at work, home, and church. And it’s not recorded how many days he prayed till Gabriel showed up with answers.
I’ve read some articles online, where chapter ten was mentioned as Daniel fasting. Nope. Let’s look at it. “In those days, I Daniel, was mourning three full weeks (Daniel 10:2).” That explains everything—he was mourning. That word mourning, `âbal, means: bewail. “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled (Daniel 10:3).”
This isn’t a fast, the Bible doesn’t say it’s a fast—he’s in mourning, he’s grieving. Someone near and dear to him had passed away. It’s also obvious that he’s not a vegetarian anymore. He’s held a high office for decades, so it stands to reason that he’s able to procure the sort of food he wants. But people are writing entire articles that this is a fast, even going into detail about giving up meat and juices, certain types of bread, and avoiding hand and body lotions (!). However…they are allowed to snack. This is foolishness. When a loved-one dies, among other things it affects your appetite—that word pleasant means, to delight in. He didn’t feel like eating ice cream and cake while he grieved. Putting oil on your skin and hair was part of keeping your appearance in those days. Ancient peoples would rub oil on the skin, then wipe or scrape it off—the oil lifted off dirt and left the skin soft. It was also quicker than a bath, and feasible, if one lived in an area where water was scarce. More expensive oils would be scented. A small amount in the hair helped keep it in place, and also combed out dirt.
Daniel mourned for three weeks, which is…twenty-one days…the exact length of the churches’ “fast.” It’s been a long-standing tradition in the Middle East, and the days of the Bible, that there are a certain number of days that one mourns. In modern-day Arabia, it’s forty days. In Genesis 50:3 when Jacob died, the Egyptians mourned seventy days for him. Then, when Joseph buried him in Canaan, he only mourned seven days. I understand seven days of mourning is still observed among the Jews to this day. In Daniel 2:17, we see that he and his three friends are living together in the same house. It would be no stretch of the imagination that the four remained close friends throughout their lives. Daniel 1:21 says that Daniel lived (or served in capacity of wise man or adviser) up to the first year of king Cyrus. Daniel 6:28 says he prospered during Darius and Cyrus’ reign. That word prospered is a Chaldean word, ts ͤ lach, and means, advanced. Whether or not he was retired, God was still looking after him. His friend died in the third year of Cyrus’ reign, and during the mourning, he was given a heavenly vision. He did not fast. Period.
There’s another word, listed once, but translated as fasting; ṭ ͤ vâth (tev-awth); hunger (as twisting); from a root corresponding to ṭâvâh; to spin.
Found in Daniel 6:18, it’s the incident where he’s thrown into the lion’s den. King Darius, who’d been manipulated in a scheme to kill Daniel, was so distraught, he lost his appetite, refused to be entertained, and spent a sleepless night, worrying. It’s listed as a Chaldean word, and perfectly describes an anxious condition. People will skip meals when troubled or worrying, but we don’t assume that we “fasted” in the biblical sense. Remember, the KJV was written in 1611—Old English usage of the word “fast” just meant that one was without food, but not by choice. We have the word “breakfast” from the Old English, because they used to say they were “breaking the fast” or “breaking fast” since they hadn’t eaten since the night before.
God is the Creator of laws, the Originator of the court system, and judges’ seat, who punishes and appoints an executioner for lawbreakers. Laws and rules are good for us, and will certainly not vaporize when this old world is destroyed by fire—otherwise, hell’s lawbreakers would afterward be allowed in His kingdom. I understand that church organizations have their own rules, especially concerning the governing of laity, and their education towards obtaining certificates and licenses of the gifts of the Spirit. But these (man-made) church rules can also be stumbling blocks and blinders. And it has proved to be so with this Daniel Fast, for the church has put its stamp of approval on something taken out of context, and wrongly divided.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2nd Timothy 2:15
The word study, means: use speed, be prompt.
In this particular scripture, shew, means: to stand beside, exhibit, recommend. Too many don’t bother looking up the definition of this archaic English word, and instead substitute “show”, which doesn’t make any sense.
Rightly means: in a straight manner—figuratively, correctly.
Dividing means: make a straight cut—or figuratively, dissect.
So…“be prompt to stand beside or exhibit yourself approved unto God, a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly making a straight cut to the word of truth.”
Matthew 7:7,8 tells us, ask and it will be given to us, seek, and we’ll find. Earth’s history overflows with hidden truths, secrets, undiscovered ancient things, and the Word of God holds un-found treasures to this day. Until these things are brought to the light of day, aren’t they non-existent in our minds? Aren’t they dead to us? Just as a gem cutter can make a wrong cut, this twenty-one day Daniel fast is a prime example of a wrong cut, and removing it from its context.
Fasting objects is also not found in the Word of God. Naturally, if some thing is taking up your time or coming between you and Jesus, hindering a relationship, wasting time, you need to be rid of it, and not for just twenty-one days annually. It’s foolishness to teach our children and teenagers to lay aside their laptops, TV’s, ipods, for twenty-one days a year, in lieu of fasting. My church still has people on crutches, canes, walkers—people are still getting cancer, the flu, viruses. I have yet to hear anyone call out: “Let’s have a Daniel fast for this!”
We have made a joke out of a serious, powerful, spiritual tool. When people fasted, they were facing death, or attack from enemies, or insurmountable odds that could only be solved by the Creator, the One true, Supreme God.