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3. Signs of Not Trusting God (Genesis 27)

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…Now Rebekah had been listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the open fields to hunt down some wild game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father tell your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare for me some tasty food. Then I will eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now then, my son, do exactly what I tell you! Go to the flock and get me two of the best young goats. I’ll prepare them in a tasty way for your father, just the way he loves them. Then you will take it to your father. Thus he will eat it and bless you before he dies.” “But Esau my brother is a hairy man,” Jacob protested to his mother Rebekah, “and I have smooth skin! My father may touch me! Then he’ll think I’m mocking him and I’ll bring a curse on myself instead of a blessing.” So his mother told him, “Any curse against you will fall on me, my son! Just obey me! Go and get them for me!” So he went and got the goats and brought them to his mother. She prepared some tasty food, just the way his father loved it. Then Rebekah took her older son Esau’s best clothes, which she had with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She put the skins of the young goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the tasty food and the bread she had made to her son Jacob. He went to his father and said, “My father!” Isaac replied, “Here I am. Which are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau, your firstborn. I’ve done as you told me. Now sit up and eat some of my wild game so that you can bless me.” But Isaac asked his son, “How in the world did you find it so quickly, my son?” “Because the Lord your God brought it to me,” he replied. Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you, my son, and know for certain if you really are my son Esau.” So Jacob went over to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s.” He did not recognize him because his hands were hairy, like his brother Esau’s hands. So Isaac blessed Jacob. Then he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?” “I am,” Jacob replied. Isaac said, “Bring some of the wild game for me to eat, my son. Then I will bless you.” So Jacob brought it to him, and he ate it. He also brought him wine, and Isaac drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here and kiss me, my son.” So Jacob went over and kissed him. When Isaac caught the scent of his clothing, he blessed him…

Genesis 27 (NET)

What are signs of not trusting God? In one sense, not trusting God is the root of all sin. When Satan tempted Eve, he told her that God’s Word wasn’t trustworthy and that God was holding back the best from her. Consequently, when she doubted God, she ate of the tree.

In the same way, when we don’t trust God’s Word, his character, or his plan, we’ll be prone to sin and its various consequences. That’s what happens in the Genesis 27 narrative. We see Isaac, who doesn’t trust God’s plan to bless Jacob, choose to, instead, bless the oldest son, Esau. Rebekah and Isaac don’t trust God, who prophetically told them that Esau would serve Jacob, so they came up with a deceptive plan to secure the birthright. Esau, who seems like a victim, Scripture calls a godless man who despised his birthright (Heb 12:16)—he didn’t trust that God’s plan to bless Jacob was best. Nobody in this family trusted God, and therefore they hurt one another and themselves. Not trusting God always leads to harmful consequences.

However, trusting God always leads to blessings. Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV) says:

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 says,

My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me. They will be like a tree planted near a stream whose roots spread out toward the water. It has nothing to fear when the heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought. It does not stop bearing fruit.

God blesses those who trust him and disciplines those who don’t. In this narrative, we see God’s discipline, as the family experiences the terrible consequences of not trusting in God. In the end, we see Esau planning to kill Jacob and Jacob being estranged from his family for some twenty years (Gen 27:42-44). Not trusting God only leads to consequences both individually and corporately.

In this narrative, we’ll study signs of not trusting God—to discern if we don’t trust him, to inspire us to trust him more, and also to protect us from the harmful consequences of mistrust.

Big Question: In the Genesis 27 narrative, what are some signs (or consequences) of not trusting God, as displayed in Isaac’s family?

When We’re Not Trusting God, We’re Prone to Idolatry

When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he was almost blind, he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son!” “Here I am!” Esau replied. Isaac said, “Since I am so old, I could die at any time. Therefore, take your weapons—your quiver and your bow—and go out into the open fields and hunt down some wild game for me. Then prepare for me some tasty food, the kind I love, and bring it to me. Then I will eat it so that I may bless you before I die…

Genesis 27:1-4

At this time, Isaac is about 137 years old.1 He is bedridden, almost blind, and seems to have hearing loss (cf. Gen 27:22). Since Isaac believed that he would die soon, he decided to bless Esau, even though God had clearly chosen Jacob and made it clear through a prophecy. Though he thinks he is about to die, Isaac lives for another forty-three years (Gen 35:28).

As Isaac aged, his spirituality declined, as he developed idols in his heart that came before his relationship with God. His two idols were his firstborn, Esau, and comforts, like tasty food. Therefore, when Isaac was about to die, he asks Esau to prepare him a delicious dish.

What one thinks about or does before death often shows his or her priority. It’s interesting to consider that when David was about to die, he makes preparations to build God’s temple (1 Chr 22). When Paul was about to die, he asks for Timothy and Mark to come see him and bring scrolls so he can read God’s Word and write (2 Tim 4). However, when Isaac is about to die, he asks his son to bring him delicious food. This shows how consuming his love for food and comfort was.

However, Isaac is not the only one in this family with idols. Esau developed the same idolatry as Isaac; he loved creature-comforts, like food, more than God. Previously, he sold his birthright to gain a bowl of soup (Gen 25). In addition, Rebekah’s idol was her son, Jacob. In this narrative, she was willing to deceive her husband, estrange her oldest son, and even bare any potential curse on Jacob, in order that he would receive Isaac’s blessing. Finally, Jacob’s idol was the blessing, which he was willing to repeatedly deceive his father for.

This is common when we are not trusting God—our hearts will become idol factories. Many things, including good things, will take God’s place in our lives and the devotion that belongs to him—career, academics, family, sports, video games, coffee, etc. Many choose these over God, and therefore, God is neglected and often disobeyed.

Finishing Well

In addition, as we consider Isaac specifically, we must recognize how hard it is to finish our spiritual lives well. When Isaac was a boy, as much as we can discern, he was willing to die on Abraham’s altar because he believed God would raise him from the dead (cf. Gen 22, Heb 11:19). When his wife, Rebekah, couldn’t bear children, he prayed and she became pregnant (Gen 25). He was a man of great faith! But here at the end of his life, Isaac disregards God because of his love for his firstborn and creature-comforts. Sadly, this is common throughout biblical history. Many don’t finish well. The last we see of Noah, a great man of faith, is him being drunk, naked, and cursing his grandson, Canaan (Gen 9). Moses, who led Israel out of Egypt, dies outside the promised land (Deut 34). Demas, a missionary associate of Paul, left him and possibly Christ because he loved this present world (2 Tim 4:10). Many begin well but don’t finish well. Certainly, this must challenge us to be careful of anything that might slowly erode our faith—like the love of idols.

When we are not trusting and worshiping God, we will develop idols that pull us away from him and also hurt our relationships with others. What are your idols—what is keeping you away from giving time and devotion to God and loved ones?

Application Question: How can we tell when something is an idol in our life? What are your idols, which vie for your focus and affection? How is God calling you to deal with them, so that he might be first and everything else in its proper order?

When We’re Not Trusting God, We’re Prone to Anxiety and Haste

Now Rebekah had been listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the open fields to hunt down some wild game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father tell your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare for me some tasty food. Then I will eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now then, my son, do exactly what I tell you! Go to the flock and get me two of the best young goats. I’ll prepare them in a tasty way for your father, just the way he loves them. Then you will take it to your father. Thus he will eat it and bless you before he dies.” “But Esau my brother is a hairy man,” Jacob protested to his mother Rebekah, “and I have smooth skin! My father may touch me! Then he’ll think I’m mocking him and I’ll bring a curse on myself instead of a blessing.” So his mother told him, “Any curse against you will fall on me, my son! Just obey me! Go and get them for me!”

Genesis 27:5-13

When Rebekah overhears Isaac’s plan to bless Esau, she creates a counter-plan. The fact that she comes up with this plan so fast, means she probably had already been contemplating it. Rebekah tells Jacob to go and get goats, so she can prepare tasty food and also for him to put on Esau’s best clothes. In addition, she clothes Jacob with goat hair in order to deceive Isaac. This section of the narrative is full of haste. In verse 9, she says, “Go to the flock.” In verse 13, she says “Go and get them for me!” Also, in verse 43, after finding out that Esau was planning to kill Jacob, Rebekah said, “Run away immediately to my brother Laban in Haran.” When Rebekah and Jacob were not trusting God, anxiety and haste manifested in their lives.

This is true for us, as well, when we’re not trusting God and instead operating in our own wisdom and strength. We’ll typically feel anxious and rushed. Our minds will keep us up late at night—playing various scenarios over and over. We will rush to graduate, rush to get a job, rush to get married, rush to make a decision, rush for this and rush for that. When our hearts are anxious, it typically leads to haste and bad decisions. Be careful of making decisions with an anxious heart—anxiety and haste are often signs of not being right with God. Also, when our desires are unfulfilled, anxiety leads to discouragement. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down.”

This is not God’s plan for his people. Scripture commonly tells us to not be afraid and to be anxious for nothing (Is 41:10, 2 Tim 1:7, Phil 4:6). When we’re trusting God, typically, we will have his peace and not anxiety. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart.” The phrase “be in control” can also be translated “decide.” It was used of an umpire in an athletic game. Christ’s peace or lack of peace should help us make decisions. Instead, many are ruled and guided by their anxieties and fears instead.

Application Question: How can we overcome our anxiety and sense of hurry?

Philippians 4:6-7 says,

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

  1. If we are going to overcome anxiety, we must recognize it as a sin. God has not given us a Spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim 1:7). When we lack self-control and a sound mind, we must recognize that it’s not from God. We must discern its root and remove it.
  2. If we are going to overcome anxiety, we must pray about every situation. We typically don’t do this. We sometimes pray when things are bad, but often not when things are good. We have to learn to live in an atmosphere of prayer. As a part of praying in everything, we must give thanks in everything and also present our requests to God in everything. To give thanks in everything is a step of faith. It means saying, “God, I trust you with this difficulty, even though it hurts, and I don’t understand.” Like Job, we must learn to say, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!” (Job 1:21).

When we do this, God promises to give us his peace. These are all things that Rebekah should have done. Instead of seeking to deceive her husband, she should have prayed to the Lord and sought his face. This is what she did when she was having a war in her belly with the two twins. She sought the Lord and he gave her a prophecy (Gen 25:22-23). Similarly, she should have prayed and then talked with her husband, and, if that didn’t work, she should have trusted that God would fulfill his plans, with or without Isaac’s blessing.

When we are not trusting God and instead trusting in ourselves, others, our job, or the economy, we will find ourselves often anxious and in a hurry. We must remember that God is our Shepherd and we will not be in want. Our Lord will guide us beside still waters, lead us into the right paths, protect us in the valley, anoint us with oil when we’re hurt, and allow our cups to overflow with things that bring joy (Ps 23). We don’t need a map when we have a guide. We don’t need to fight for ourselves, when vengeance is the Lord’s. He will take care of us and therefore we should accept his peace.

Are you living in peace or anxiety? When we’re not trusting him, we’ll lack peace and be full of anxiety and haste—leading to bad decision-making and discouragement.

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced anxiety and haste when not fully trusting God? How has that anxiety produced negative fruits, like bad decision-making and discouragement, in your life? In what ways is God calling you to seek his peace and allow it to rule in your life?

When We’re Not Trusting God, We’re Prone to Deception

Now Rebekah had been listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau went out to the open fields to hunt down some wild game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father tell your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some wild game and prepare for me some tasty food. Then I will eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now then, my son, do exactly what I tell you! Go to the flock and get me two of the best young goats. I’ll prepare them in a tasty way for your father, just the way he loves them. Then you will take it to your father. Thus he will eat it and bless you before he dies.” “But Esau my brother is a hairy man,” Jacob protested to his mother Rebekah, “and I have smooth skin! My father may touch me! Then he’ll think I’m mocking him and I’ll bring a curse on myself instead of a blessing.” So his mother told him, “Any curse against you will fall on me, my son! Just obey me! Go and get them for me!” So he went and got the goats and brought them to his mother. She prepared some tasty food, just the way his father loved it. Then Rebekah took her older son Esau’s best clothes, which she had with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She put the skins of the young goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck. Then she handed the tasty food and the bread she had made to her son Jacob. He went to his father and said, “My father!” Isaac replied, “Here I am. Which are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau, your firstborn. I’ve done as you told me. Now sit up and eat some of my wild game so that you can bless me.” But Isaac asked his son, “How in the world did you find it so quickly, my son?” “Because the Lord your God brought it to me,” he replied. Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you, my son, and know for certain if you really are my son Esau.” So Jacob went over to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s, but the hands are Esau’s.” He did not recognize him because his hands were hairy, like his brother Esau’s hands. So Isaac blessed Jacob. Then he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?” “I am,” Jacob replied. Isaac said, “Bring some of the wild game for me to eat, my son. Then I will bless you.” So Jacob brought it to him, and he ate it. He also brought him wine, and Isaac drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here and kiss me, my son.”

Genesis 27:5-26

Deception runs throughout this narrative. When Isaac tells Esau to go hunt and prepare some tasty food, so he could bless him, this was a form of deception. In those days, the passing on of the blessing and birthright was a big deal. It was typically a public affair where all the household would come, watch, and celebrate (see Gen 49). However, Isaac does it in secret because he knows Rebekah and Jacob will disapprove. The fact that this was done in secret shows that Isaac’s intentions were not fully honorable.

Also, there is deception when Rebekah hatches the plan to deceive her husband, and Jacob goes along with it. Jacob is dressed with Esau’s best clothes and the hair of goats, and given a goat meal to deceive Isaac. Jacob lies to his father three times: when he says that he is Esau (v. 19), when he says that he secured the game early because God blessed his hunt (v. 20), and when the father doubted because of his voice, Jacob again claimed to be Esau (v. 24). Finally, he sealed his lies with a kiss (v. 27). Often one lie leads to another and then another. In addition to Isaac’s, Rebekah’s, and Jacob’s deceptions, Esau was also being deceptive. He was breaking his deal with Jacob, who he had already promised the birthright.

When we are not trusting God and instead trusting in our own strength and wisdom, we are prone to bend the truth. When Abraham went to Egypt, he lied about his wife because he didn’t believe God would protect them (Gen 12). He did the same when he encountered Abimelech (Gen 20). In both circumstances, he lost his wife and then God delivers her. God cursed Pharaoh and Abimelech, who took Sarah as their own. Each time God showed Abraham, “You can trust me. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. I will be your shield and great reward!”

Like our spiritual patriarchs and matriarchs before us, we also tend to scheme and deceive others when we’re not trusting God. When we feel like we’re going to get in trouble, we lie or shade the truth to protect ourselves. Why? We do this because we don’t believe God will use our earned consequences for our best. When we feel like we’re going to fail a test, we’re tempted to cheat. Why? Because we don’t believe God will help us pass or redeem our failure for the good. With taxes or illegal downloads, we’re tempted to break the law. Why? We believe that the extra saved money is better than God’s pleasure and favor. When we don’t trust God, we’ll be tempted to deceive.

In addition, not only are we tempted to deceive others when we’re not trusting God, but we’re also prone to being deceived. Isaac’s family had developed some mystical understanding of Isaac’s blessing. Yes, technically, Isaac could pass on the leadership of his home to whomever he wanted. However, his prayer of blessing was only effective if it lined up with God’s Word. His prayer meant nothing unless it was in accord with God’s will (cf. 1 John 5:14-15). Isaac was deceived about this and so was Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau. Throughout this narrative, it is clear that only God’s will, will stand, not the deception and striving of people.

In the same way, when we’re not trusting in God, we’re prone to deception as well. When we don’t accept what God says about us, we’ll accept what Satan says, the world says, or ourselves—to our own demise. As we do so, we’ll find ourselves either prideful or discouraged. Often pride or insecurity come because we’ve rejected God’s Word and accepted the lies of the enemy.

In what ways are you deceiving others or being deceived instead of trusting God?

Application Question: In what ways is deception often rooted in not trusting God and his will for our lives? In what ways is telling the truth rooted in our trust for God? In what ways is God calling you to accept/practice truth and reject any form of deception?

When We’re Not Trusting God, God Will Discipline Us to Increase Our Trust of Him

Isaac had just finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, when his brother Esau returned from the hunt. He also prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Esau said to him, “My father, get up and eat some of your son’s wild game. Then you can bless me.” His father Isaac asked, “Who are you?” “I am your firstborn son,” he replied, “Esau!” Isaac began to shake violently and asked, “Then who else hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it just before you arrived, and I blessed him. He will indeed be blessed!”…

Genesis 27:30-46

After Isaac finishes blessing Jacob, Esau comes into the house seeking the blessing. Isaac starts violently shaking, and they both realize that Jacob had stolen the blessing. However, instead of reversing the blessing, Isaac strongly asserts that Jacob will be blessed (v. 33). He then gives Esau a blessing, which is really a nonblessing. When Jacob would receive the dew of the sky and the richness of the earth (v. 28), Esau’s blessing would be “away” from the dew of the sky and the richness of the earth (v. 39). History tells us Esau’s people, the Edomites, became desert-dwellers2, who lived by the sword—meaning violence.3 Many people would serve Jacob including his brother (v. 29). This was fulfilled in the Davidic kingdom, as Israel ruled over many people groups including the Edomites. However, Isaac did prophesy that Esau would become restless and break Jacob’s yoke off of his neck. This eventually happened under Joram’s reign, where the Edomites won their freedom (2 Kings 8:20–22).4

Interestingly, regarding Isaac’s blessing on Jacob, we learn in the book of Hebrews that Isaac blessed Jacob by faith. Hebrews 11:20 says, “By faith also Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning the future.” How was this by faith if he was deceived? It seems to be that after Isaac had his shaking and realized that he was deceived, he came to a spiritual revelation. He couldn’t contend with God. God’s will would be done—no matter what he did. Therefore, when Isaac said that Jacob would indeed receive all those blessings—that was spoken in faith (v. 33). And when he blessed Esau, he also spoke in faith (v. 39-40). God’s will would be done. Isaac couldn’t outwit God, and neither can we.

After all Isaac’s rebelling, God still won. God crushed Isaac’s idols. His oldest son would not rule—his youngest would. And, instead of receiving wild game, he got seasoned goat. Similarly, God destroyed the idols of Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau. Rebekah’s idol was her youngest, Jacob. After she hears that Esau wants to kill him, she sends him off to her family where he stays for twenty years (v. 42-46). Most likely, she never saw him again. God removed the rival in her heart to his glory. With Jacob, though he wanted to rule Esau, he spent twenty years serving his father-in-law, Laban, who deceived and mistreated him many times. Then when Jacob flees Laban, he is scared Esau will kill him. He offers him gifts, calls him Lord, and bows down to him (Gen 33). He didn’t rule his brother, in the way he hoped. God destroyed his idol. With Esau, he wanted the blessing, but God gave it to Jacob. This is what God will do to us when there are rivals in our hearts. Every son he loves, he disciplines (Heb 12:6). He does this to help us trust in him alone.

Psalm 39:11 (ESV) says: “When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah.” God will have no rivals before him. With Abraham, when Isaac became the focus of his heart, God asked Abraham to sacrifice him (Gen 22). In the same way, when comfort becomes our idol, God will remove it. When career becomes an idol, he will shake it. He consumes like a moth what is dear to us, until he is our all in all. As with Isaac, he will shake us until we are willing to submit to his will again. With the prodigal son, all his wealth and worldly joys were eventually taken away from him, so that he came to his senses and returned to the father’s house (Lk 15). God will allow the same to happen to us.

What are your idols? What are you trusting in other than God?

Application Question: Why does God allow us to go through trials/discipline (Heb 12:6-7)? In what ways have you experienced the discipline of God removing idols?

Conclusion

How can we know when we’re not trusting God? When we look at the story of Isaac’s family fighting over the birthright, we see the consequences and signs of not trusting God.

  1. When We’re Not Trusting God, We’re Prone to Idolatry
  2. When We’re Not Trusting God, We’re Prone to Anxiety and Haste
  3. When We’re Not Trusting God, We’re Prone to Deception
  4. When We’re Not Trusting God, God Will Discipline Us to Increase Our Trust of Him

Application Question: What sign of not trusting God spoke to you most and why? How is God calling you to grow in your trust for him?

Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.


1 Guzik, D. (2013). Genesis (Ge 27:1–4). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

2 Guzik, D. (2013). Genesis (Ge 27:39–40). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

3 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (pp. 353–354). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

4 Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (pp. 29–30). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

Related Topics: Character Study, Christian Life, Faith

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