Why did I name this series Exodus? Of course it’s about liberation from the idolatry of food and the hold it can have over your life. But when you look at the story of Exodus more closely it’s not a straight path through the Red Sea to the Holy Land. And anyone who’s struggled with weight loss and over eating can relate to this.
God has worked wondrous miracles in freeing the Israelites from their captivity. After 400 years, a diminished people who were enslaved and endured violence even against their children had been released; ten plagues, an opportunity to flee, a column of fire to deter their hunters, a pathway through the river and the final destruction of their relentless persecutors.
And yet after that initial liberation, when these enormous events were no longer happening but were still in their memory, they complained; “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3).
Notice it’s their stomachs they think of! This may be because they are starving, however when God provides manna and even quail, in spite of the instructions they received they take too much. They don’t trust God to provide. Still.
The manna rots. What was good rots.
In spite of all that God has provided, and the evidence before their eyes that when God warns them it’s true that bad things will happen if they should disobey Him, they still continue to forge a golden calf and worship that instead of the living God. They had just consecrated themselves to Him (Exodus 24:3), and then they remove their earrings to make an object that they know is not a God – its made out of their jewellery!!! – but worship it as if it is. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they choose to worship an animal that we get meat from. Lets face it, Genesis has already taught us that our stomachs, our physical appetites, get us in trouble. We’re always looking out for lust, but the amount of times the Bible shows the stomach leading people into trouble is underestimated.
Again God forgave them and sent an angel ahead of them to lead them to the promised land. Yet once they reached it they refused to enter. Despite god’s assurance that He would give this land to them , and despite the scouts seeing that the land was good – flowing with milk and honey – the people lamented and….refused to go!
They were scared at what was ahead of them. the people who inhabited the land were giants, strong….the Israelites faith was weak (Numbers 13). Again their response was to go back to Egypt. Back to captivity.
Why do I bring all of this up?
It’s easy to not trust God enough. Not to trust Him to provide for our good. Sometimes I don’t trust Him to liberate me, and when He still delivers liberation anyway I look ahead at the promised land and see the fight still ahead of me, I forget the victory behind me and I want to go back to what is safe and secure. Even if that security is one that leaves me in chains. I want to build my idol, a god of food that gives me comfort, even when I know it’s a lie and that puny god cannot act to save me. It will only bring my destruction.
Having walked this path many times I can tell you without doubt that on the days when I rest in Him, focus on Jesus – those days are better. Yet when my gaze moves, the ground beneath me becomes unsteady again and I fall once more.
As I said the amount of time that the stomach leads people to sin and separation from God in the Bible are numerous. A battle is being waged within our souls. When I realised this, it was my D-Day. Between now and victory there will be hardship and I have no doubt about that. But when I fix my gaze on Him my victory is assured.
I’m coming to the end of my first week of putting myself once again in Jesus’s hands to take a simple step away from the puny god of food and towards The God. I just decided that I was going to reintroduce intermittent fasting back into my daily life again, but adapt it to those red letter days I spoke of. It meant there has been a constraint on my eating – I could eat from all the trees in my eating time zone, just not when I’m fasting.
It helps because the journey is manageable. It helps when I pray and ask for Gods help the next day when I drift off to sleep. These are my first, simple steps and I will add more steps or commitments as I continue.
Prayer before sleep and when I wake up to ask for God’s help.
Intermittent fasting each day.
I will write one more post tomorrow to introduce my next step, but I would really like you to join me on this journey. We are on a pilgrimage to the promised land. Let’s leave this idol behind. I have started to walk ahead of you and you may want to follow in my footsteps. I have no doubt I will stumble though. Perhaps we can encourage each other?