February 2009
Dear Friends,                                                                   
    We now transition from the life of Abraham to his descendents Isaac and Jacob. Before we look at this sad account of God's people disobeying Him and deceiving others we must look at our own lives and see how we can try to make things happen in our own steam versus trusting and obeying the Lord. We might think, "I can do my will through my strength" or  "I can try do God's will in my own way, in my own time and my own strength" rather than "I can do all things (God's will, not mine) through Christ who strengthens me (in God's power, not my strength)." (Phil. 4:13)

    These six sad scenes of four sinful people show them using their own wit and will to get what they want – and in Jacob's and Rebekah's case, even what God said would happen. We get a little hint of this before we move into the story in 26:34: Esau married outside the faith and shows how unfit he is for God's plan to flow through him. But in Chapter 27 we see that all of the others have clay feet too.

    Scene One: 27:1-5 – Isaac disobeys the oracle of God (25:23) that the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob) because he favored Esau and especially his tasty food made from wild game. Also Esau knew that he had sold his birthright to Jacob (26:33) and thus forfeited the blessing that he now wrongly sought after. Isaac used all five senses and still was deceived by Jacob. Likewise, the world, the devil and our flesh can and does deceive us. (1 John 2:15-17) Scripture calls us to see with eyes of faith (Eph. 1:18), hear the voice of God (Rev. 2:7), taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8), be able to discern the aroma of Christ (2 Cor. 2:14), and lay hands (touch) on others to impart spiritual blessings (Acts 13:1-4; James 5:14).

    Scene Two: 27:6-17 – Here we see the deception of Rebekah and Jacob after Rebekah heard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau. Rebekah and Isaac's relationship may have been strained over the fact that they each favored a different son. Otherwise Rebekah could have confronted Isaac on disobeying God's plan. Favoritism is a recipe for family troubles. Look at the life of Joseph. So now mother and son plot to get the blessing by tricking Isaac into thinking Jacob is Esau. She whips up some tasty food and steals Esau's clothes and then even pasted some goatskin on Jacob so he would feel and smell like Esau. Jacob's only concern was not that it was wrong to do this but that he might get caught and cursed. Remember the blessing of God belonged to Jacob by God's decree at birth. If they had not tricked Isaac, Jacob would have still received God's blessing in some other way. "The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable." (Rom. 11:29)

     Scene Three: 27:18-29 – With his mother's deception Jacob steals the blessing. Jacob blatantly lied to Isaac ("I am Esau your son") and even blasphemed God as Isaac asked him how he got the game so quickly ("The LORD your God gave me success," he replied). He got the blessing but in a deceitful way and gained nothing that God would not have given him, and lost a great deal.

     Scene Four: 27: 30-40 – Here we see the distress of Isaac and Esau in the loss of the blessing. Maybe Isaac's trembling (v.33) came from his conviction of sin at how he had tried to give his blessing to Esau in spite of God's Word that the elder would serve the younger. Otherwise he probably would have rebuked Jacob and done just that. Esau finally sees the real meaning of Jacob's name – the supplanter or deceiver, and he realizes his great loss that he gave away earlier for a pot of stew. But it was too late. Although it seems he was repentant, he was not sorry for his sin but only for the consequences of his sin. (See Heb. 12:16-17 and 2 Cor. 7:8-11)                                                               

     Scene Five: 27:41-45 – The consequences for Rebekah and Jacob's sin begin quickly. Esau threatens to kill Jacob so he has to flee. The mother probably never saw her favorite son again and Jacob lost all the comforts and blessings of home and had to run for his life with nothing but a staff, and then runs into a buzz saw – uncle Laban who out-tricks the trickster.  And it seems that even his mother put all the blame on him for these painful consequences: "When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him I'll send word for you to come back from there." As Scripture says, sooner on later "be sure your sin will find you out" (Num. 32:23) and in Jacob's case it was sooner.                                                            

     Scene Six:  27:46- 28:5 – Rebekah seems to manipulate Isaac once again by complaining about the Hittite women that Esau married to get Isaac to send Jacob away so Esau couldn't kill him. So Isaac does that and then this time knowingly gives Jacob the blessing of Abraham and sent him away to find a wife outside the land of Canaan. Even though Jacob finally repented when he was old, he summed up his life this way as he later told Pharaoh his story: "Few and evil (or difficult) have been the days of the years of my life." (Gen. 47:9) Crime doesn't pay and neither does sin.                               

     Second Corinthians 4:2 in The Message is a good summary and application of what to learn from this: "We refuse to wear masks and play games (as Jacob did). We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes (as Rebekah and Jacob did).  And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves (as Isaac and Esau did).  Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God." Like David who prayed, "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts" (Psalm 51:6), we should pray for integrity with God and ask Him to affirm our right motives and convict us of any wrong motives in our relationship with Him and people. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Questions for reflection/application

What did the Lord say to you through this message?

In the past, where have you seen yourself try to make things happen your way, in your power and in your own time frame and what did you learn that is helpful to you and may be to others?

Isaac used all five senses in relating to Jacob but was still deceived. How can we "train" our spiritual senses to know good from evil per Hebrews 5:12-14?  "For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God's Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice (obedience to God's Word) to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law."

According to 2 Corinthians 4:2 above, how can people wear masks and play games and how can we avoid doing that as God's people?

                    Until He comes,

                    Len and Kristen

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