[The prophet] Zechariah speaks of four fasts practiced in ancient Israel in the
fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months (vs. 19). These ancient fasts were
initiated as times of national repentance for Israel's sins, sins that led to
the exile of Judah's monarchy, the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the
Temple of Solomon, and a murderous and futile uprising against the Babylonians.
Zechariah foresaw that one day God would restore and forgive and that the
need for repentance would end. Then fasts would become feasts - times of
Let us be attentive! God is urging us to conduct our Christian fasting in
the love of the Lord, in truth and peace. We are to fast now to prepare
ourselves to celebrate both the coming Feast of Holy Pascha, but also to be worthy of the eternal banquet of the Lamb, the heavenly feast of the age to come in Christ's Kingdom (Rev. 19:9) - when all fasting will be feasting.
In the age to come, Jew and Gentile servants of Christ alike will worship
and pray as one People, "inhabitants of many cities, peoples and nations" (Zech.8:22). The incorporation of the nations into Israel, into the Church, began in Apostolic times (Gal 3:28). Now, two thousand years of inclusion has made the Church largely Gentile, yet we are one in Christ, the new People.
Why, then, do we have Fasts now? Why Great Lent, the Apostles' fast, the
Dormition Fast and the Nativity Fast? These seasons are gifts to help us
prepare for our place in that great company of peoples from every nation who will walk in the Uncreated Light of the New Jerusalem in the age to come, when all tears and the need to fast will be wiped away (Rev. 21:4).
O Thou Who knowest the secrets of all hearts, prepare us through fasting to
feast with Thee in Thine eternal and glorious banquet in the age to come.