Do you have a favorite in the family? Favorite child, grandchild, sister, nephew?
Play video. Isaac’s family had favorites and we’ll see how that played out in their story.
I. Birthright sold to Jacob - Genesis 25:27-34
II. Blessing stolen by Jacob - Genesis 27:1-46
III. Blessing is given by Isaac - Genesis 28:1-9
IV. Blessing is confirmed by God - Genesis 28:10-22
A. Favorites READ Genesis 25:27-28. Last week we looked at their birth, scripture seems to skip over their childhood, pick up the story when they are young men. By this time, Esau is an outdoorsman, loves to fish, hunt, shops at Bass Pro and REI while Jacob is a homebody, like to cook and read books, orders on line from Williams Sonoma and Amazon. These men are vastly different, and isn’t that way with your children, nieces, nephews, so different. That’s the uniqueness of each of us but tragic problems in this family stem from the fact that Isaac and Rebekah each favored one child over another.
The parents fail to provide the background of justice on which all true community and family life must be founded. They each champion a favourite; they allow the boys to divide them. As a result they further divide the boys and break apart what they are meant to unite.
Ronald S. Wallace1
This favoritism will result in marital discord, sibling rivalry, hatred, distrust. Sadly this learned trait will be passed on to the next generation.
If you have ever taken favoritism lightly, laughed at it in your family, I encourage you to re-examine the potentially disastrous consequences on everyone. If you have been the favored or the non-favored in a family, I want to remind you that God loves us all equally, that is so comforting.
Romans 2:11 For God does not show favoritism
God chooses people for certain callings, he places us in different families for His purposes, but He loves all His creation, sent his Son for all to be saved.
I Timothy 2:5,6 There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…
Knowing that family tension between the two sons, let’s look at the story of the birthright. Picture the scene: Imagine Jacob in the kitchen, smell the bacon and onions cooking, lentil stew is simmering, corn bread and butter. In walks Esau who hasn’t eaten anything all day. READ Genesis 25:30-34. You read in your lesson the significance of the birthright. It was basically the inheritance rights of the eldest son: headship of the family, major share of the family’s property, and the right to the parental blessing. But Esau was hungry! Starving! Also very foolish. This casual attitude and lack of respect for the birthright shows how little Esau valued the Covenant. They had grown up knowing about the blessing, twins were 15 years old when Abraham died, so there were probably many years of grandparenting/parenting, of investing in these boys, of telling them about the Promises of God, sharing his experiences with God. It would seem that Jacob somewhat understood the value of this Covenant but Esau did not. Esau later regretted his decision, he even tries to put all the blame on Jacob but in fact he had a choice, he chose instant gratification over spiritual blessings.
Application: We have a birthright too if we have trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior. We have been promised eternal security that begins now and is forever. We also have the reality of our inheritance right now through the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit. New Covenant is written on our hearts. Are you making any “Esau choices” right now? How did you answer that question? Is there an area of your spiritual inheritance that you’re neglecting or ignoring? Are you making wise decisions regarding your spiritual health? How awake is your soul? In this story we are warned: watch out what choices you’re making, they reveal your heart’s treasure.
The Birthright is sold to Jacob and sometime later The Blessing is stolen by Jacob
A. Isaac’s decision. READ Genesis 27:1-4. Isaac is approx 137 yrs, boys are 77. Perhaps Isaac is thinking of his older half brother Ishmael who had died at 137. Seems his thoughts were full of his own death, decided to take care of his will=for him was the Patriarchal blessing. It was customary for his time/place, in basically an nonliterate world, to give this orally, an oral blessing, legally binding. Isaac is ready but he has a problem. He wanted to give the blessing to Esau, his favorite son, but he knew God’s will was to have Jacob the heir through the prophecy given to Rachel. Maybe he didn’t know that Esau had sold the birthright, he did know about the pagan wives Esau had foolishly chosen. How could this blessing be passed on to Esau? Only one way, secretly. It was also customary to gather all the family together for the blessing to be transferred (Genesis 49). Isaac knew that if he told the household of his intention of blessing Esau there would be a great uproar. Rebekah would loudly protest, nag him about the prophecy, probably make him feel guilty and miserable- only way to avoid that would be to secretly, hurriedly arrange the blessing just between Esau and himself. Isaac determines to give the blessing to the wrong son.
Application: Do you ever see yourself doing that? I remember a time in my life where I said to myself “I want this so bad, it’s a good thing, I’m sure God would want it for me too” and I can’t truly say I ever asked “God is this what You want for me?” Consequences of that are sometimes God will give you what you want, and it’s not at all good, not really want you wanted. Psalm 106:15 Israelites in the wilderness craved food, grumbling, I want what I want, God gave them “overgave” them, caused “leanness of their soul” “wasting disease”
B. Rebekah’s been listening READ Genesis 27:5-10. She devises a daring plan instructing Jacob to impersonate Esau to get the blessing. Rebekah is the instigator, Jacob is the accomplice.
He’s not thrilled about the plan, objects READ Genesis 27:11-13. So Jacob leaves and gets the meat and Rebekah makes stew, while it’s cooking she goes in Esau’s closet, gets his best clothes, still smell like outdoors, dresses Jacob in them, disguises him, gets the tray ready and sends him in to Isaac, who by now probably has cataracts so bad he can hardly see anything, certainly nothing clearly.
C. READ Genesis 27:18 Jacob tells one lie after another, last is the worst. READ v19-20 I succeeded because God helped me. Wonder if he didn’t worry that thunder and lightning might strike him. Tension builds, Isaac still has some doubts and wants to examine him, come over and let me touch you. “At this point” says Martin Luther, (if I were Jacob) I would have let the dish fall and would have run” but Bishop Hall responds and says no doubt Rebekah was standing at the door, and wouldn’t have wanted to run into her, stays let’s dad touch him, voice almost gives him away. He has one last opportunity to make things right READ Genesis 27:24. Lies again. Isaac eats and gives the
D. Blessing Genesis 27:27-29 to Jacob. a. Material Genesis 27:28 dew, grain, wine. b. Spiritual Genesis 27:29 Jacob will be lord over his brethren and the nations, God’s blessings are upon him. God’s choice is blessed but the consequences of this deception are tragic.
1. The motivation for scheming was unbelief. Rebekah panicked when she heard about Isaac’s plans. She believed the promise but she didn’t believe that God could accomplish it without her help. Impatient, didn’t pray, took matters into her own hands.
2. The ends never justify the means. God will not bless you for doing wrong to achieve good. God’s covenantal blessing of Jacob was because He sovereignly chose him to inherit the promises but there were great severe tragic consequences from this deception.
Proverbs 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and the one who spouts out lies will not escape punishment.
The whole family suffered in the strife it brought the household, Rebekah suffered-as far as we know she never saw her son again, she was burdened with daughter-in-laws who gave her great grief. Jacob had to leave home, deal for 20 years with Laban who abused and cheated him, Jacob ultimately was deceived by his own sons, all the consequences of not trusting God to work out His promises His way
Application: Deception is one of the repeated generational sins in this family. Is it in yours? Can you see where it shows up? Is unbelief in God’s promise to take care of you, meet your needs, provide for you, is that causing you to run ahead of Him? Have you ever panicked like Rebekah thinking God is not coming through for me, I need to do something!
Jacob leaves, Esau enters. Hey dad, sit up, just got home from hunting, made your favorite stew, let’s eat and you can bless me. ”Who are you” What do you mean, I’m Esau.
E. Isaac’s discovery READ Genesis 27:33. Isaac trembled violently, shook all over, Turning point in the story, in the life of Isaac. Isaac realizes he’s been up against the will of God, he can’t revoke Jacob’s blessing, not culturally allowed. Esau is crushed and begs his father for some kind of blessing.
F. Esau’s determination is a warning to us.
a. READ Genesis 27:34 bitter cry= angry and mad b. blames others Genesis 27:36 doesn’t see his own part, own wrong choices c. demanding, badgers dad “do something for me too” Genesis 27:38 bless me too..weeps. We might feel some sympathy for him but his tears were simply frustrated selfishness. READ Hebrews Genesis 27:39-40.
Esau and his descendants would live in the mountains of Edom, some of the most desolate and barren places on earth, southeast of the Dead Sea. MAP and picture of area.
Esau held a grudge that turned into a murder plot.
G. Rebekah heard about it, determined to protect Jacob at all costs, calls for him. Jacob, dear, your brother’s angry, in fact I’ve heard he wants to kill you, so go away for a few days until he gets over it. In that culture, she didn’t have the authority to send him away, the head of the household would have to make that decision, there would be a formal send-off, so she needed a reason. Again, she uses deception and goes to Isaac says “now look, Jacob’s not getting any younger, needs a wife, we don’t want any more Canaanite girls, godly wife, send Jacob back to my relatives for a god-fearing girl. Why? Commentators: 1. foreshadowing of OT LAW Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3. 2. marriage w/in a clan was culturally favored custom of the time. 3. stay within own ethnic group. She discreetly doesn’t say anything about the death threats on Jacob’s life. I wonder how much Isaac really knew of Rebekah’s part in the deception, he doesn’t seem to get angry with her, agrees with her suggestion about seeking a godly wife. Although he may have been mad at Jacob, he recognizes and affirms God’s preference for him as heir of the Covenant. Family gathers together, Jacob’s bags are packed, ready to go.
READ Genesis 28:1-5 Isaac confirms the Covenantal Promises given to Abraham, blessings, great nation, land, these promises are for Jacob. What Isaac wanted for his child is what all believers want for theirs: he wanted Jacob married to a fellow believer who walks with God and values spiritual truths. Isn’t that what you want for your loved ones? Whether or not they have a lot of money, a great education, social standing, it all pales in comparison to their spiritual walk with God, doesn’t it? Question becomes: If that’s what we want, is that the message we are sending out to our family? Is that the way we live our lives? Does our spiritual life, our walk with God, is it real? Is that what we are known to value most of all? Ie story: lunch “does anyone want to talk about what God is doing in their lives?”
A. Jacob leaves, gone about 45 miles north of Beersheba, 45 miles from home, night, alone, homesick, fearful (what would keep Esau from following him) robbers, wild animals, perhaps he was thinking of his past: what a mess, feel like a failure, hate what I did. Perhaps thinking of his present: what am I doing here? basically running away from home when I’m supposed to be the heir, what if dad dies while I’m gone? Maybe thinking of his future: long journey ahead, could be hazardous, how am I going to find a wife, what if I don’t like her? How long am I going to be away from home? Whatever his thoughts were as he went to sleep, God knew his needs, he needed a word from God.
God does that for us too, when we’re at the end of ourselves, when we’re facing something new, when we have no strength left, God comes.
B. Dream Genesis 28:12-15 READ
Well-known story. Ladder,stairway=“sullam” Hebrew only occurs here, unique appearing of God, first of 7 times recorded God appears to Jacob (Genesis 31:3; Genesis 32:1,2,24-30;Genesis 35:1,9-13;Genesis 46:1-4). God reaffirms the Covenant, we wonder what does this unique ladder, stairway with angels going up/down mean? Clue=v15 God says “I am with you” “I’m here in everything that happens to you, with you” No matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself in, no matter what consequences you’re living with because of your own choices, no matter how fearful you might be, no matter what, I am with you, going to take care of you and accomplish My purposes for your life.
Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20 I am with you always
Application: There may be times that God seems to be far off; those are the times we walk by faith and not by sight, but if we are determined to trust, follow even in the darkness- one day you, like Jacob, you’ll probably wake up, look back and say “surely the Lord is in this place” Genesis 28:16. I know God is with me, God has been here even when I didn’t see Him. Jacob’s response is worship and a vow, commentators differ interpreting these verses, I personally don’t think Jacob is bargaining here, I think he’s taking his first steps with God, testing out if this faith thing is really real. Ie My conversion story. Here the God of Abraham and Isaac becomes the God of Jacob.
Application: In our story, who do you identify with?
If I were honest= Esau, really want what I want when I want it, don’t like to wait.
Isaac= I want what I want too, I want my favorite things, favorite people, my way, ok it may mean I have to be a little secretive but who’s going to know?
Rebekah= I too want what you want, my favorites too and by the way I know what is best, I know how to get it even if I have to tell a little white lie, re-arrange circumstances, I don’t want anyone to be hurt, but really, haven’t you read the statistics: nobody tells the truth all the time.
Jacob= times I just go along to get what I want: lie, deception, I don’t want to get in trouble but I do want what I want
Our struggle is not so much discovering the will of God but in doing it. It is NOT God’s Will that we have favoritism, deception, manipulation, hatred, lying in our lives, they come with unavoidable consequences. It IS His Will that we listen, obey and follow His leading, His Words. Learn these lessons, choose to be a Covenant Keeper.
1 Ronald S. Wallace, Isaac and Jacob (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982) 30.