Genesis – First, God
In any group situation, family, church or work, when you scheme to get your own way, for your own benefit it will probably blow up in your face. God’s will and purpose will still be accomplished, because HE is God, but will we be blessed by how we behave in the process? Or will we face consequences that we never planned to encounter on our journey?
Philosopher George Santayana called the human family “one of nature’s masterpieces.” If that’s true, then many of these masterpieces have become nothing but pieces because they forgot the Master. Genesis 27 describes such a family.
Genesis 27, The Message
When Isaac had become an old man and was nearly blind, he called his eldest son, Esau, and said, “My son.”
2-4 “I’m an old man,” he said; “I might die any day now. Do me a favor: Get your quiver of arrows and your bow and go out in the country and hunt me some game. Then fix me a hearty meal, the kind that you know I like, and bring it to me to eat so that I can give you my personal blessing before I die.”
5-7 Rebekah was eavesdropping as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. As soon as Esau had gone off to the country to hunt game for his father, Rebekah spoke to her son Jacob. “I just overheard your father talking with your brother, Esau. He said, ‘Bring me some game and fix me a hearty meal so that I can eat and bless you with God’s blessing before I die.’
8-10 “Now, my son, listen to me. Do what I tell you. Go to the flock and get me two young goats. Pick the best; I’ll prepare them into a hearty meal, the kind that your father loves. Then you’ll take it to your father, he’ll eat and bless you before he dies.”
11-12 “But Mother,” Jacob said, “my brother Esau is a hairy man and I have smooth skin. What happens if my father touches me? He’ll think I’m playing games with him. I’ll bring down a curse on myself instead of a blessing.”
13 “If it comes to that,” said his mother, “I’ll take the curse on myself. Now, just do what I say. Go and get the goats.”
14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother and she cooked a hearty meal, the kind his father loved so much.
15-17 Rebekah took the dress-up clothes of her older son Esau and put them on her younger son Jacob. She took the goatskins and covered his hands and the smooth nape of his neck. Then she placed the hearty meal she had fixed and fresh bread she’d baked into the hands of her son Jacob.
18 He went to his father and said, “My father!”
“Yes?” he said. “Which son are you?”
19 Jacob answered his father, “I’m your firstborn son Esau. I did what you told me. Come now; sit up and eat of my game so you can give me your personal blessing.”
20 Isaac said, “So soon? How did you get it so quickly?”
“Because your God cleared the way for me.”
21 Isaac said, “Come close, son; let me touch you—are you really my son Esau?”
22-23 So Jacob moved close to his father Isaac. Isaac felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He didn’t recognize him because his hands were hairy, like his brother Esau’s.
23-24 But as he was about to bless him he pressed him, “You’re sure? You are my son Esau?”
“Yes. I am.”
25 Isaac said, “Bring the food so I can eat of my son’s game and give you my personal blessing.” Jacob brought it to him and he ate. He also brought him wine and he drank.
26 Then Isaac said, “Come close, son, and kiss me.”
27-29 He came close and kissed him and Isaac smelled the smell of his clothes. Finally, he blessed him,
Ahhh. The smell of my son
is like the smell of the open country
blessed by God.
May God give you
of Heaven’s dew
and Earth’s bounty of grain and wine.
May peoples serve you
and nations honor you.
You will master your brothers,
and your mother’s sons will honor you.
Those who curse you will be cursed,
those who bless you will be blessed.
30-31 And then right after Isaac had blessed Jacob and Jacob had left, Esau showed up from the hunt. He also had prepared a hearty meal. He came to his father and said, “Let my father get up and eat of his son’s game, that he may give me his personal blessing.”
32 His father Isaac said, “And who are you?”
“I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”
33 Isaac started to tremble, shaking violently. He said, “Then who hunted game and brought it to me? I finished the meal just now, before you walked in. And I blessed him—he’s blessed for good!”
34 Esau, hearing his father’s words, sobbed violently and most bitterly, and cried to his father, “My father! Can’t you also bless me?”
35 “Your brother,” he said, “came here falsely and took your blessing.”
36 Esau said, “Not for nothing was he named Jacob, the Heel. Twice now he’s tricked me: first he took my birthright and now he’s taken my blessing.”
He begged, “Haven’t you kept back any blessing for me?”
37 Isaac answered Esau, “I’ve made him your master, and all his brothers his servants, and lavished grain and wine on him. I’ve given it all away. What’s left for you, my son?”
38 “But don’t you have just one blessing for me, Father? Oh, bless me my father! Bless me!” Esau sobbed inconsolably.
39-40 Isaac said to him,
You’ll live far from Earth’s bounty,
remote from Heaven’s dew.
You’ll live by your sword, hand-to-mouth,
and you’ll serve your brother.
But when you can’t take it any more
you’ll break loose and run free.
41 Esau seethed in anger against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him; he brooded, “The time for mourning my father’s death is close. And then I’ll kill my brother Jacob.”
42-45 When these words of her older son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she called her younger son Jacob and said, “Your brother Esau is plotting vengeance against you. He’s going to kill you. Son, listen to me. Get out of here. Run for your life to Haran, to my brother Laban. Live with him for a while until your brother cools down, until his anger subsides and he forgets what you did to him. I’ll then send for you and bring you back. Why should I lose both of you the same day?”
46 Rebekah spoke to Isaac, “I’m sick to death of these Hittite women. If Jacob also marries a native Hittite woman, why live?”
THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY
(Warren Wiersbe, Commentator helps us to understand the family dynamics…)
Had we been alive during patriarchal times, we probably would have predicted great success for Isaac and Rebekah. After all, Isaac was a dedicated man who had put himself on the altar in obedience to the Lord. He trusted God to choose his wife for him, and the wife God sent, Jacob loved. Both Isaac and Rebekah knew how to pray and seek the mind of the Lord for their home. What more could a married couple want?
But in spite of these advantages, the family self-destructed rather quickly when Isaac became old. Why? Because the members of the family substituted scheming for believing so they could each have their own way.
As we look at the scenes in this tragedy, let’s study each of the family members and see what they contributed to the problem or to the answer.
ISAAC – Isaac was sure he was going to die, and yet his greatest desire was to enjoy a good meal at the hand of his favorite son and cook, Esau (25:28). When Isaac’s father, Abraham, prepared for death, his concern was to get a bride for his son and maintain the covenant promise. When King David came to the end of his life, he made arrangements for the building of the temple, and Paul’s burden before his martyrdom was that Timothy be faithful to preach the Word and guard the faith.
Instead of seeking to heal the family feud that he and his wife had caused by their selfish favoritism, Isaac perpetuated the feud and destroyed his own family. He disobeyed God. God told him to give the blessing to Jacob, “the older will serve the younger”, when the twins were born. Did Isaac really think he could fool God and give the blessing to worldly, unbelieving Esau?
Isaac was a declining believer, living by the natural instead of the supernatural, and trusting his own senses instead of believing and obeying the Word of God. He was blind and bedfast and claimed to be dying, but he still had a good appetite. With a father like that leading the home, is it any wonder that the family fell apart?
REBEKAH – Sir Walter Scott wrote in his poem “Marmion”: “O what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.” Remember, faith is living without scheming, and faith means obeying God no matter how we feel, what we think, or what might happen. The obedience of faith was the secret of Abraham’s life (Heb. 11:8), but the absence of obedient faith brought trouble to the home of Isaac and Rebekah.
When Isaac sent for Esau to come to his tent, Rebekah noticed it and stayed close by to learn what was happening. Later, when Esau revealed that he planned to kill his brother, Rebekah also heard that, so she must have been adept at eavesdropping and keeping abreast of family affairs.
However, it’s tragic when a husband and wife, once so dedicated to the Lord and each other, have excommunicated each other and no longer discuss God’s Word or pray together.
Knowing that Jacob was chosen to receive the covenant blessing, Rebekah immediately took matters into her own hands to make sure her favorite son got what the Lord had promised him. Had she and Jacob talked with Isaac while Esau was out hunting, perhaps he would have seen the light and agreed with them. Instead, however, Rebekah chose to control Jacob and deceive her husband.
Isaac was depending on his own physical senses, but Rebekah was depending on the wisdom of the world. However, the world’s wisdom always leads to trouble. “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” .(James 3:16 NIV).
JACOB – Jacob’s concern wasn’t “Is it right?” but “Is it safe?” He was worried about the eleventh commandment: “Thou shalt not get caught.” Interesting to note…“My son, let the curse fall on me” was her word of encouragement to Jacob, but little did she know what she was saying. For after Jacob left for Haran, she never saw her favorite son again.
What he learned from his parents:
Isaac’s philosophy was “If it feels good, it is good,” but Rebekah’s philosophy was “The end justifies the means.” She couldn’t trust God to fulfill His plan; she had to help God out because it was for a good cause. But there’s no place for deception in the life of the believer, for Satan is the deceiver (2 Cor. 11:3), but Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6).
In cooperating with the scheme, Jacob was only obeying his mother, but he could have refused and suggested that they just face the situation honestly and confront Isaac. But once Jacob donned Esau’s clothes and took the savory meal in his hands, the die was cast and he had to play the part successfully. See how one lie led to another, for deception can be defended only by more deception. Jacob was weaving the tangled web.
Jacob becomes a skilled liar:
1. He lied about his name.
2. He claimed he was obeying his father’s wishes.
3. He lied about the food. (Goat instead of venison)
4. He even gave credit to the Lord for helping him find it so quickly. He not only lied about himself, but he also lied about the Lord! To use the Lord to cover up sin is a step toward blasphemy.
5. Jacob assured Isaac that he was indeed Esau.
6. Jacob delivers the greatest dishonor of all, the kiss of hypocrisy.
Isaac assured Jacob, (disguised as Esau) not only of God’s blessing, but also of God’s protection, and he quoted the Lord’s original promise to Abraham (12:3). The deed was done. Isaac couldn’t revoke the blessing, and nobody in the family could alter the consequences.
Isaac had lied to Abimelech in Gerar (chap. 26), and he had tried to lie to God by disobeying the Word (25:23), but now his own lies had caught up with him. Jacob is on the run from his own family.
ESAU – The man who despised his birthright and married two pagan women now wept and cried out for his father to bless him. It wasn’t his fault, he told himself; it was his crafty brother’s fault. When in doubt, always blame somebody else.
Hebrews 12:16-17 is God’s commentary on the event. Esau tried to repent, but his own heart was too hard, and he couldn’t change his father’s mind. Esau’s tears were not tears of repentance for being an ungodly man; they were tears of regret because he had lost the covenant blessing. Esau wanted the blessing but he didn’t want to be the kind of man whom God could bless! We may forget our decisions, but our decisions don’t forget us.
“Don’t get mad, get even” is a popular philosophy, especially among politicians, but Esau practiced both: He carried a hateful grudge against his brother and planned to kill him. After all, if Esau couldn’t enjoy the blessing, neither would Jacob. The man who was destined to live by his sword would start by using it first at home.
EPILOGUE – Now that Jacob had the covenant blessing, it was important that he marry the right woman and not one of the pagans in Canaan.
Isaac agreed and called Jacob to tell him their decision. When the summons came, Jacob may have expected his father to scold him for what he’d done, but Isaac didn’t do that. The old man had been caught in his own net and knew that God’s plans were better than his.
Not only did Isaac speak kindly to his son, but also he gave him an extra blessing as he left to go on his long journey to Haran. This time it was “the blessing of Abraham” that was important, the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless all the earth through Jacob’s descendants (Gal. 3:14).
Esau’s response to this news was further evidence that he despised everything spiritual, for he went out and took another wife. Because Jacob was looking for a wife among his uncle Laban’s children, Esau chose a wife from the family of his uncle Ishmael. Perhaps he thought that this would qualify him to receive some kind of blessing from God, but it only added to the irritation in the home.
Whew, and we think our families are messed up! Maybe they are in different ways. What we learn from this dysfunctional family is that scheming, deceiving, lying and manipulating are not characteristics that build family relationships. Put God first. Love, trust and obey God no matter what. Let HIM control the situation so HIS will is accomplished in ways that bring out the BEST in us, not the worst. Then love your family as God loves you, unconditionally, honestly, putting their interests above your own, like Jesus taught us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for life. Thank you for creating us in unique ways for your glory and honor. Thank you for our families. Help us to always be honest and God-led in our relationships. Bless us as brothers and sisters in Christ at your church to also be led by you as we grow in you together. Give us wisdom, insight and understanding in all our relationships. Keep us close to You first, then others.
In Jesus Name, Amen