Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.”
Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it,
Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.
So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said,
“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you of the dew of heaven,
and of the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
Psalm 135: 1-6
Praise the name of the Lord;
give praise, O servants of the Lord,
you that stand in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of the house of our God.
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for he is gracious.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.
For I know that the Lord is great;
our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
In the gospel today, Jesus instructs the disciples of John about the different seasons in the spiritual life. While the bridegroom, Jesus, is with them, they are not to fast. When he is gone from them though, it is the time to fast. today, although Jesus has ascended to the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to us to be with us always. While the liturgical seasons of the church indicate to us when to fast and celebrate, we also rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit to put it on our hearts when to fast and pray and when to celebrate and praise him.
Fasting is a powerful tool in prayer as it mortifies the flesh and by putting one’s desires, cravings, and tendencies to death. When we are not just listening to ourselves and thinking about what we want, we make ourselves more open to hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Then, we allow ourselves to be used by him more to minister to others. Fasting helps a person to surrender their entire life and their desires to God. When we are surrendered to God, we do not have to worry about our lives or our futures, but we trust that God’s will is going to be done. As the psalmist declares “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth.”
As the Lord chose Jacob to receive Isaac’s blessing, he led Rebecca to send Jacob in to his father before Esau could fulfill his wishes. While it may look dishonest how Jacob usurped his brother out of his father’s blessing, God allowed and ordained it to be so. As followers of Christ, it is our job to subject ourselves to the will of Christ and be surrendered to it. We practice putting our desires and our lives under the rule of Christ by spending time listening to the Holy Spirit and making fasting part of our prayer practice.
Today, spend time in prayer and ask God to show you how to subject your will more fully to Christ. Is he leading you to fast for a time or are you in a season of praise and celebration for what the Lord has done for you? Regardless of where you are in your prayer life and spiritual seasons, trust the Lord to do as he pleases.