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Sep 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 15, 2013 – Genesis Chapter 27

Genesis 27

INTRO: The story in this chapter is told mostly through dialogues with little narration

It jumps quickly from one conversation to another conversation
– Isaac with Esau, Rebekah with Jacob, Jacob with Isaac, etc.
(By the way, this is not the family we would recruit if Time magazine wanted a photo for an article on “The Model Believers and Their Children”)

This week I wrote out the story in my own words to cover all of it while hopefully highlighting important details

 The Story

If we look for a family resemblance between the twins and the parents, we won’t find it in Esau–he’s nothing like his father or mother. Jacob, however, looks a little like both parents. He was a homebody like his father. But he got his conniving and grasping at things that didn’t belong to him from his mother and her side of the family.

Isaac had grown old and as often happens, his eyesight became progressively weaker until he was nearly blind. As the light dimmed, he sensed the approach of death and began wondering what would happen after he was gone. What had he done that would survive him?

In Isaac’s time, immortality was achieved through a man’s children, his children’s children, and so on for a thousand generations. Of all his children, the firstborn son received the greater share of the father’s vital energy. Isaac was pleased with this thought, because he favored his older son, Esau. The tough and outdoorsy twin was a perfect specimen of manliness. Unfortunately, Esau had frittered away his birthright. So Isaac came up with a plan to do something else for his favorite son that would give him an unique advantage.

Esau heard his father’s quavering voice call his name. He entered Isaac’s tent and announced his presence, “Here I am.” Isaac began, “Look at me, I am old and don’t know how much longer I’ll last. Take your bow, go into the field, and bag a deer or mountain goat. You know how to prepare meat the way I love it. When I’m finished eating, I’ll pronounce my soul’s blessing over you before I die.”

Esau left quickly, eager to win this prize. He felt that with his father’s blessing he would be set for life. What neither he nor his father knew, was that standing within earshot, Rebekah heard their entire conversation.

After Esau had gone hunting, Rebekah went to Jacob and said, “Look here, your father sent your brother to hunt game and serve him his favorite meal. After that, he intends to give your brother a blessing. But we’re going to make that meal and when you take it to your father, you will get the blessing.”

Jacob was not opposed to the idea, but he saw a major flaw in it. “Look, mother,” he said, “my arms are smooth and Esau’s are thick with coarse hair. If father gets suspicious and asks to touch me, he’ll consider me a fraud and send me away with a curse rather than a blessing.”

“Oh, don’t worry about curses, just do as I say,” Rebekah said. Then she cooked the meat exactly as Isaac loved it. She also snatched one of Esau’s robes, the one he wore on special occasions, and gave it to Jacob. Then she managed to stick goat hair to Jacob’s arms, and with these props she sent him into Isaac’s tent.

“Father?” Jacob said as he entered. “Here I am,” Isaac answered, and, already curious he asked, “Who are you, my son?”
“I’m Esau, your firstborn,” Jacob lied. “Here, I’ll help you sit up so you can enjoy this savory meat.”

“But how were you able to catch the game and prepare it so quickly,” Isaac wanted to know.

“Well, Yahweh your God made it happen quickly.”

“Come here,” Isaac ordered, “I want to touch you to see if you really are Esau or not.”

When Isaac stretched out his hand and felt the goat’s hair on Jacob’s arm, he said, “The voice is Jacob’s, but hands are definitely Esau’s.” Still, one more time he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?”

“I am,” Jacob lied again.

Isaac settled into his dinner. After he washed down the last bit of bread with a swill of wine, he wiped his beard with his sleeve and called Jacob over to him, “Let me kiss you, my son.” As Isaac’s lips touched Jacob’s cheek, he recognized the odor of Esau’s robe, and with that he began his blessing:

See now, my son’s aroma is that of a field which Yahweh has blessed;
Now God will be giving you the night-dew from heaven,
And the luxuriant fat of the earth,
And more than enough grain and new wine;
May people everywhere serve you,
And nations bow to you;
Be the master of your brothers,
And may your mother’s sons bow to you.
A curse on those who curse you,
And a blessing on those who bless you.

Jacob had barely left Isaac’s tent with his blessing, when Esau arrived with the meal he had prepared. “Get up, father,” he said, “It’s time to eat.”

The moment Isaac heard Esau’s voice, his whole body began to shake uncontrollably. “Who are you,” he asked, afraid of hearing the answer.

“I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

“Then who was here just now?” Isaac asked. “Who fed me game and received my blessing? Indeed, he’s the one who has the blessing now.”

It is always unnerving to hear a rugged man of the world like Esau, wail in agony. “You’ve got to bless me, father!” he sobbed.

“Your brother sneaked in here and stole your blessing.”

“Oh, he was well-named,” Esau cried, “This is the second time he has tripped me by the heel. First, he took my birthright and now he has taken my blessing.” Then, again, he begged his father, “Don’t you have another blessing that you can give me?”

“What do I have left to give you, my son?” Isaac asked. “I’ve handed him everything I could think of.”

Unable to believe what he was hearing, Esau asked, “Did you have only one blessing, father?!” And again he wept.

Isaac did as best he could to come up with a blessing for Esau:

Look, you will live off the fat of the earth,
And off the dew from heaven above.
You will also live by your sword,
And serve your brother;
But in time you will become restless,
And then you will tear off his yoke from your neck.

This inferior blessing pushed Esau over the edge, beyond forgiving and forgetting. The only way he was able to soothe his rage was by reminding himself that his father would not live much longer and the day he died, Jacob would die too.

Rebekah heard that Esau found comfort in plotting Jacob’s death. So she warned her younger son, “You must escape from here and seek shelter with my brother, Laban. In a little while, after your brother’s temper has cooled off for what you did to him, I’ll send for you. But I don’t want to lose the two of you in one day!”

Then Rebekah hatched her next scheme. She went into Isaac’s tent complaining, “The women who live around here are going to be the death of me! If Jacob marries one of these local girls, my life won’t be worth living!”

To be continued . . .

The Bible is not an encyclopedia

Or a reference work for looking up theological truths
– it is not “a manual for life”, instruction book, or text book
• it doesn’t arrange subjects in order
– the Bible is mostly stories
– although they contain theological insights and statements, we are supposed to read the stories
• not just extract theology from them
○ we are to enter the story and experience it from the inside
○ in the story, theology is dynamic – it is for living

This story marks another transition in Genesis

From the brief account of Isaac’s life to Jacob’s more interesting narrative
– a theme is introduced here that will return to haunt Jacob
• the way he and his mother used Esau’s clothing:
• to establish the owner’s identity and then deceive
– ten of Jacob’s sons will use clothing to deceive him

This is a divided family – two against two

The father and mother have competing agendas
– Isaac and Esau have their secrets and they devise schemes
– Rebekah and Jacob have their secrets and devise schemes

Did accomplishing God’s will require all this scheming? No
– we’re they talking and interacting with God as they did all this? Probably not
– did their plans and manipulations block God’s will  or prevent him from using them? No, not at all

It was not what the members of this family did that gave their lives meaning
– it was a promise – a reality bigger than their lives
• a promise that was spoken before they were born and would outlive them
– the promise that ran through their lives and drew them up into something eternal
• a promise that held steady through all the fluctuations and mutations of their circumstances

The promise stayed with them and, more significantly, so did the One who made the promise
– in a way, God is Himself the promise and its fulfillment

Why did old Isaac have to be subjected to all this?

A person doesn’t make real spiritual progress in a classroom
– the classroom and the chapel are greenhouse environments
– what flourishes there may not survive the harsh weather outside
• we aren’t transformed by ideas and we don’t live in greenhouses
○ real-life circumstances shape us and prepare us for our destiny
• it’s not just living and surviving our circumstances that shape us
○ but the choices we make going through them
○ and how all of that plays out

In spite of the scheming that dominates this story, Isaac did one remarkable thing

He came up with the idea of giving his son a blessing
– we can’t know for sure how he came up with this rite-of-passage
• certainly not from his father, Abraham (no record of it)
○ Noah did something like this for his sons–sort of
○ but out of anger and not toward the end of his life
• most likely the blessing originated in Yahweh, who from beginning, blessed every living thing
– Isaac told Esau, “my soul may bless you” (throughout, vv. 4, 19, 25, 31)
• it is the enriched soul sheltered in God’s shalom that can transmit a blessing from one generation to the next
○ how Rebekah interpreted “my soul,” “in presence of Yahweh” (v. 7)
○ she definitely understood it as a sacred act
• Yahweh is seen as the one true source of all blessings
– by word and touch, the father passes on his soul’s prosperity and strength

Claus Westermann, “The handing on of blessing from father to son is a result of its being a power of the soul. It must continue in the family because the family is a spiritual unit.”

One disappointing feature in Isaac’s act of blessing is his total lack of creativity
– he prepared only one blessing and was unable to produce a separate one for each son
• it seems obvious that he intended to slight Jacob — but that backfired
– later, Jacob will have a blessing for each of his twelve sons (plus two more for his grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh)

CONC: Personally, I find it very encouraging that God uses broken people and dysfunctional families

If we were to ask God why, he might answer,
“Just give Me something else to work with”

An interesting detail in this chapter that I haven’t mentioned
– all five senses play a role in the unfolding plot
sight – Isaac’s dim vision and several “Beholds”
hearing – the voices of Jacob and Esau; Rebekah telling Jacob to “listen”
taste – the crucial preamble to the blessing
touch – discerning the difference between the sons’ “smooth” and “hairy” arms
smell – Esau’s clothes

We connect with this world and others through our five senses
– when you see an instance of beauty in nature, you are looking at the artwork of God
• when that beauty stirs within you a feeling pleasure, you are feeling God’s presence
• if we take a moment to enjoy God’s presence, a prayer of thanksgiving will naturally rise from our hearts

We have been equipped to do God’s will
– you need to know that each day God gives you as much as you need to do his will
• enough wisdom – but not all the answers
• enough strength – but not for every accomplishment
• enough time – but not for every imagined chore
– we just need to remember to renew ourselves in him
• it is too long to go a whole day without taking a breath
• we do not need more than a few seconds:
○ to take a cleansing breath
○ to turn our heart towards him

Perhaps like an executive who occasionally looks at a photograph on his desk of his family to remind him why he is there in the office.

○ to dedicate to God whatever we’re doing in that moment

Constantly putting ourselves in God’s hands this way, we can be sure we won’t fail his purpose for us each day
–in spite of ourselves


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