Dustin and I were cleaning up the kitchen last night and talking about the fast and how the lack of our chosen "trinkets" continually reminds us of God each meal. We were joyfully bemoaning together; I know that is an oxymoron. In any case I made a remark that I will be glad when I am free of this restriction. And I was reminded that before this poor helpless babe was born, those who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were constantly trying to fulfill the requirements of God's Laws through offerings and commands. I have the anticipation and hope of an end. But the Israelites could not see the bigger picture and see the end. They had the hope of the Messiah but did not know the time in which He would come. I have the blessed assurance that Christmas morning, the things I have given up while be restored to me. They were slaves to the Law but I have been set free.
The writer of Galatians put it this way- "Why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. But this system of the law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God's promise was made...... If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God's promise is to believe in Jesus Christ. Until faith is Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior." (chapter 3, verses 19, 21-23)
Symbolically in this fast we are in the time of "protective custody" and there is a day coming when we will be set free just like the ancient believers. Glory! But for us it is the hope of His return that we long for. We no longer shout Noel in anticipation of His arrival. We now shout Thy kingdom come! in anticipation of His Reign.