Ten days ago, we began a twenty-one day fast with our church family. We are well into the book of Genesis in our daily reading plan as well. Last week we read again, another story of food being used as a prop in an act of deception.
In chapter 27 we read the story of Rebekah and Jacob deceiving Isaac so that Jacob could receive the blessing of the birthright he had taken from his brother. The story begins with Isaac as an old man and nearly blind. He was moving closer to his death and told Esau to go out and hunt some wild game (Genesis 27:1-3). "Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die." (Genesis 27:4)
Rebekah had overheard the conversation and because Jacob was her favorite son, quickly came up with a scheme for him to receive the blessing. She said beginning in verse 8, "Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies."(Genesis 27:8-10)
Jacob questioned his mother by replying that his brother was a hairy man and that he had smooth skin. How could he convince his dad that he was Esau if he touched him? He feared that a curse would fall upon him rather than a blessing if his father caught on. That was when Rebekah told him to put on the best of Esau's clothes and then put goat skins on top of his hands and the back of his neck. She prepared the tasty food, along with some bread and had Jacob take it into his father. (Genesis 27:11-17).
In verse 18, Jacob went to his father and claimed he was Esau. Isaac questions Jacob because his voice is that of Jacob. After touching his hands, Isaac believed he was Esau and gave him his blessing. After Esau returned from hunting, he prepared his father tasty food and went to him to receive his blessing. It was then the secret was out and Isaac realized he had been deceived. Both Isaac and Esau were upset by this, so much so that in verse 35 Isaac says to Esau, "Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing." (Genesis 27:18-40)
Esau began to plot to kill his brother after his father passed. Rebekah got wind of his plan and told Jacob to flee to her brother Laban in Haran because the Hittite women disgusted her and she did not want him to marry one of them. (Genesis 27:41-46). I did discovered that Rebekah wasn't such a nice woman, she was much like her brother Laban, deceiving.
What I find truly interesting in this whole story is Jacob didn't know God yet. Back in verse 20, when Jacob went into Isaac he says to him after Isaac asks him how did he find the game so quickly, Jacob replies, "The Lord your God gave me success."(Genesis 27:20) This suggests to me that Jacob didn't know God. It actually didn't happen until he finds himself in the desert on his way to Haran that he has his own encounter with God and makes a vow to God. (Genesis 28:21-22)
I share this story because, it is helping me to understand the importance of why we are to fast. Food, although necessary, can be used as a stumbling block in our lives. Because we need food to live, the enemy likes to use it to lure us by telling us, "you've gotta eat anyway." What I mean by that is we give ourselves permission to eat what we want. We subtly then give ourselves permission to "do" what we want. We each face our own "temptation in the garden" when we have the option to choose food or God. Jesus said when he fasted for 40 days "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." (Matthew 4:10)
There was a reason Daniel chose not to eat from the king's table. There he could have eaten royal food and wine, but he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Instead, for ten days he ate only fruits and vegetables. It says that he and the other boys looked healthier than those who had eaten from the king's table and it says God gave them knowledge and understanding. (Daniel 1:1-17)
I heard a pastor say that food is our connection to the world. When we fast and pray, we change that by connecting with God through prayer and disconnect with the world through fasting.* That makes so much sense to me.
There was something very significant about Jesus fasting for 40 days before he began his ministry. Jesus was telling us and the devil that he is not of this world and did not have to live by the world's ways. His fast was proof that he was not connected to this world. Instead that he overcame the world (John 16:33). He came to tell us that "Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
Jacob's blessing didn't come immediately. As the saying says, "what goes around, comes around." For twenty-some years Jacob had been deceived by his Uncle Laban, but in God's goodness Jacob's life turned around and he even made peace with his brother Esau.
As we move into the end of our fast, I pray that we will begin to see things turn around. I pray specifically for health issues that have been caused by tasty food. That we will see and hear of healing miracles because we have been willing to disconnect from the world and connect with God. Through prayer that we would see a new and better connection to the Lord than ever before. That His power and presence would be sensed in every area of our lives. So I encourage you to press through on this fast. As Jacob said, "Let OUR God give us success."