Symbolism of a Fast
Jeremiah 36:6
Therefore go you, and read in the roll, which you have written from my mouth…

I. It exhibits the duty of a wise self-restraint or self-denial, in receiving the good gifts of heaven. What could more exactly typify this than the temporary withdrawing from innocent pleasure, and even from the proper nourishment of the frame? It is temporary, and not absolute; an occasion, and not a permanency; a suspension, and not a renunciation. It admonishes us by an example, and does not crush us by a law. It reminds us of the obligation of sobriety in the use of the world s offerings. It bids us reflect that it is good for us to break away at times from what is plentiful, contenting ourselves with what is scanty; and to interrupt the course of the enjoyments that only do not reproach us, in order to make room for higher satisfactions. It exhorts us to be frugal, to be watchful, to be provident. It enjoins to be temperate in all things, and to let our moderation be known to all men; to learn how to lack as well as how to abound; and to show to others and prove to ourselves how well we can resign what we would fain keep, and refrain from what we desire to do, controlling tongue and hand, wish and passion, at the call of any holy commandment.

2. It typifies our weak and subject condition. When we pause in the midst of our blessings, and put them at a distance for a while that we may see them the better, we remember how precarious is our hold upon them, and how easily what we dispense with for a day may be withdrawn from us for ever. Fulness may shrink. Strength and activity may be crippled. Resources heaped up ever so high may be scattered to the winds. Opportunity and desire may perish together. It is good to be impressed with this at intervals, though it would not be good to dwell upon it perpetually; for you make a man none the better by making him habitually sad.

3. It presents an image of the sorrows of the world. These are a part of our subjection, and a peculiar part. While it is foolish and ungrateful to anticipate trouble, every day having enough to do with its own; and it is one of the worst occupations we can engage in, to torment ourselves with unarrived calamities, and paint the white blank of the future with woe; yet it becomes thoughtful persons, and has no tendency to make them less thankful, to consider She evils of humanity. They may be thus preserved from presumption, thus guarded against surprises, thus furnished with a fellow-feeling for the sufferings of others, and thus better prepared for their own trial when God shall send it.

4. Fasting represents penitence. It does so on the principle already mentioned, since penitence is one kind of grief. It does so on another ground. When a man is thoroughly stricken with the sense of sin, and seeks to express that consciousness, he describes his unworthiness to receive the bounties of heaven by declining to partake of them.

(N. L. Frothingham.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD'S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.

WEB: therefore you go, and read in the scroll, which you have written from my mouth, the words of Yahweh in the ears of the people in Yahweh's house on the fast day; and also you shall read them in the ears of all Judah who come out of their cities.

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