In Part 1, we saw the Father’s heart in the Bridegroom fast was to close the gap between us and Jesus. That may seem like a strange statement in light of the fact that when you get born again the Spirit of God comes into and lives inside your human spirit. So how can there be a gap?
Deep within every heart is the longing, the cry for intimacy with God. God IS love, and the one cry from every heart is to know that love. The problem is we have lived so much of our lives OUTSIDE of that love and APART from that love that we grow accustomed to living without it. Then when we come to Christ we live more out of our HEAD than our HEART. For years it has been my contention that most of us miss heaven by about 16 inches. The distance from your head to your heart. By missing heaven I don’t mean in the sense of going to hell(although certainly, some will miss heaven because they stumble intellectually over the Gospel 1 Cor.1:22-24). I mean how much more of the heavenly reality could be ours, more love, more peace, more joy, if we just knew how to live from our hearts instead of our heads.
This is why fasting is difficult for most in the first case. Because logically, how can skipping meals, or refraining from television, or any other discipline bring transformation and bring us closer to GOD? Isn’t that works? Isn’t that human effort and self-abasement?
But the simple truth is if we want to be like Jesus, think like Him, speak like Him, and walk like Him, we must do what He did. He walked in close and intimate relationship with the Father. He prayed regularly, fasted often, and loved with abandon. He was fervent in His devotion, fiery in His love, and fully surrendered in His passion for oneness with the Father. Listen to this:
Thus says God the Lord—He Who created the heavens and stretched them forth, He Who spread abroad the earth and that which comes out of it, He Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 I the Lord have called You [the Messiah] for a righteous purpose and in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and will keep You; I will give You for a covenant to the people [Israel], for a light to the nations [Gentiles],
7 To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness from the prison.
8 I am the Lord; that is My name! And My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.
The Lord will go forth like a mighty man, He will rouse up His zealous indignation and vengeance like a warrior; He will cry, yes, He will shout aloud, He will do mightily against His enemies.
14 [Thus says the Lord] I have for a long time held My peace, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry out like a woman in travail, I will gasp and pant together.
15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their herbage; I will turn the rivers into islands, and I will dry up the pools.
16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known. I will make darkness into light before them and make uneven places into a plain. These things I have determined to do [for them]; and I will not leave them forsaken. Isa.42:5-9;13-16
This speaks of a man who is completely given over to His mission. But the reason He is so possessed by the mission is because He is possessed by the Mission Giver! This is what the Bridegroom fast really accomplishes. If you’re looking for a quick fix, a quick answer to a dilemma, a way to avert a disaster in your life, this is not the fast for you. This is the deep cry of a heart that knows in your head the vastness of God’s love, but also realizes the actual experience of it is lagging behind and is crying out to see it in your life daily.
Before the cross, Jesus gave a very powerful parable to describe just how deep and passionate His love was for His church. It is found in Matthew 22:1-14. Here we see the burning desire of HIs heart.
“ The kingdom of heaven is like a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son”
The kingdom of God is like a wedding, and the Father has arranged a marriage, a feast, and a celebration for His Son. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible:
The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty” Rev.22:17
How beautiful is your love, my sister, my [promised]bride! How much better is your love than wine! And the fragrance of your ointments than all spices! Song of Solomon 4:10
For as a young man marries a virgin [O Jerusalem], so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Isa. 62:5
These are but a few of verses that speak to the Church’s bridal identity. Jesus IS the Bridegroom and the Church is the BRIDE! He has a ravishing love for her! He is passionate for her and is even JEALOUS over her! Your intellect cannot grasp this, but your heart can! His fiery love so consumes the Bride that they speak the same…both saying COME!
Which leads us to the real battle going on today for the Church. I don’t think the battle is our THEOLOGY, our ESCHATOLOGY, or our ORTHODOXY. Those are all head issues–things that relate to our intellect. In Matthew, Jesus reveals the real battle is something entirely different:
And sent his servants to summon those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they refused to come.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have prepared my banquet; my bullocks and my fat calves are killed, and everything is prepared; come to the wedding feast.
5 But they were not concerned and paid no attention [they ignored and made light of the summons, treating it with contempt] and they went away—one to his farm, another to his business,” Mt.22:3-5
It was not that they were uniformed, uneducated, or unaware. They were unconcerned! Totally unmoved, unaffected, and wrapped up in their own world. This beloved is what the Bridegroom fast is designed to fight. It is getting your focus on this revelation and not allowing our hearts to miss this most important truth. It is seeking the Groom for fresh, deep personal encounters of love so this passion takes root down inside us. If I understand John’s prophecy in Revelation, then the Bride and Bridegroom last days message is one of UNITY where the Spirit AND the Bride are moving together to hurry the Groom’s coming! She is crying out, “COME!” in deep intercession and she is walking in her full Bridal identity!
This fast is to awaken this longing in us! So much of the church has been lulled to indifference. We have become very ‘busy’ but very cold and/or lukewarm in our love for Jesus. The Spirit is moving! He is calling to an awakening of love. He is trying to ignite hearts with a Holy passion. But many are just ignoring and going about with a business as usual approach. Read Matthew 22 , pray over it, see if you find yourself in there somewhere.
If there is not a deep longing, an intense desire in your heart for Jesus, perhaps you are backslidden and in need of restoration. Cry out to God and repent and DO your first works again. IN other words fall in mad crazy love with Jesus all over again!
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not be Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” Rev.2:1-5
This is a church who has it right in their heads but has lost it in their hearts. The only way to fight this is to CLOSE the gap between us and our Bridegroom and let the revelation of His identity be rooted in OUR identity. Ephesus was a church whose theology was sound, their eschatology in alignment, and there orthodoxy in order. But their heart had grown cold and their love indifferent. Unmoved by the Bridegroom, unaffected by His love, and untouched by the flame of His passion. His counsel for them is His counsel for us–“COME BACK TO ME! REPENT! I LOVE YOU!”
Father:I pray for hearts to be encountered right now and the passion of Your love for them to break through. No more being unconcerned, unaffected, and unmoved. Light the flame of Your desire in every heart right now Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name AMEN!