Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday, July 14- by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Corinthians 6, Psalm 119:161-168, 2 Chronicles 17-18
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 27 

Isaac Blesses Jacob

27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before theLord before I die.’ Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.”
14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?”19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son
    is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
    and of the fatness of the earth
    and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let peoples serve you,
    and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
    and may your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
    and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob?[a] For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
“Behold, away from[b] the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
    and away from[c] the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
    and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
    you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother's fury turns away— 45 until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?”
46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.[d] If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

This passage has always been a curious one for me. I can't seem to understand the thought process of Rebekah to be so manipulative and so outright deceitful. Jacob too, goes along with his mother's plan even when his father calls him on it. The lie grows and grows just like they always do.

Bob Deffinbaugh says:

C. S. Lewis once wrote, “A little lie is like a little pregnancy.” How aptly that statement summarizes the events of Genesis 27. Isaac, with the cooperation of Esau, conspires to thwart the purpose of God to fulfill His covenant with Abraham through Jacob. Rebekah, aided by her son Jacob, seeks to outwit and outmaneuver Isaac and Esau to maintain for Jacob the right of the firstborn, which he purchased from Esau. 

The secular songwriter has caught the spirit of some Christian service and surely the heartbeat of this chapter in the song entitled, “Working Like the Devil, Serving the Lord.” It is difficult to discern who surpasses the rest in this web of scheming and deceit: Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, or Esau.223 The family unit has been split into two factions, each headed by a parent who wants to live out his own expectations through his son, at the expense of the others. It is indeed a tragic story and yet one that rings true to life and reveals much of what we are like today.

"A web of scheming and deceit". That's exactly what happens when we lie. We tell more lies to cover the first lie and then more to cover those. It becomes like a web that entraps us and holds us. Deffinbaugh goes on to explain what he believes are three important underlying themes in this passage: urgency, secrecy, and conspiracy.

On the surface this urgency seems to be well founded. Isaac is old, perhaps 137 years old if our calculations are accurate.224 It comes as no surprise that Isaac suffers from some of the infirmities of old age, such as poor eyesight (verse 1). Isaac was far from death’s door, however, for we learn from Genesis 35:28 that it was more than forty years later before he died at the ripe old age of 180! We should point out that his half brother Ishmael did die at age 137 (Genesis 25:17). Perhaps Isaac was not wrong to consider that his days were numbered, but in his desire to see his favorite son receive the Abrahamic blessings he stooped to unspiritual actions.
...Then, too, Isaac’s judgment seems to have been impaired by his haste. It was obvious that Isaac wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. He wanted the blessing to go to Esau so that it would be done—finished. Had there not been this sense of haste, Isaac might have insisted that his “other son” be present for the blessing too. Good judgment now, as then, is suspended in the name of urgency....
The second impression I have of verses 1-4 is that of secrecy. Normally the blessing would have been given before the entire family because it was, in reality, an oral will which legally determined the disposition of all that the father possessed.225 Distribution of family wealth and headship would best be carried out in the presence of all who were concerned. Thus we later find Jacob giving his blessing in the presence of all his sons (Genesis 49).
No such atmosphere is to be sensed in the conversation between Isaac and Esau. Neither Jacob nor Rebekah were present, and this was hardly an oversight. Had it not been for the attentive ear of Rebekah, the entire matter would seemingly have been completed with only two parties involved.
The third impression which can hardly be missed is that of conspiracy. This follows closely on the heels of the secrecy already described. Conspiracy and secrecy go hand in hand. There can be little doubt that Isaac intended at this clandestine feast to convey his blessings upon Esau to the exclusion of Jacob altogether. (This is why Isaac had no blessing left to convey upon Esau, cf. verses 37-38.)
Here was a premeditated plot to thwart the plan and purpose of God for Jacob. It is inconceivable that Isaac was ignorant of the revelation of God to Rebekah:
And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

It had never really occurred to me that Isaac was just as manipulative as Rebekah. God had told Rebekah about Jacob's future and what he would do. But Isaac had planned to thwart God's plan by inserting his own agenda in his timing, not God's, in secret, with only the two of them knowing about it, and with plans to purposely go against God and he did under the guise of a celebratory meal.

Deffinbaugh states:

Either by a genuine or a contrived sense of urgency Isaac sought to secretly overturn God’s revealed will and Jacob’s rightful possession by a clandestine conveyance of an oral blessing. By his willful participation Esau disregarded the legal agreement he had made with his brother. In both instances a dinner provided the occasion for such deception. To sit at the table of Abraham (and even Lot) was to be afforded hospitality and protection, but to sit at the table with Isaac and his sons was to face the dangers of deception and false dealing.227
Not only is this passage about manipulation and deceit but also the lengths that the people involved went to to make this happen. 

Rebekah did not just happen to overhear the whisperings of Isaac and Esau as they plotted the diversion of divine promises to the elder son. The text tells us that she “was listening.” The Hebrew form that is used in the original text suggests that this was a habit, a pattern of behavior, not a happenstance.228 Esau had hardly gotten outside the house before Rebekah had the wheels in motion to overthrow this conspiracy with a bigger one of her own.
When you stop to think about it, the plan was an incredible one. Only a sense of desperation or a very devious mind (or both!) could hope such a plot would succeed. How could a son with a totally different disposition and physical appearance possibly manage to convince his father that he was his older brother?
In my estimation such a plan could hardly have been something conceived on the spur of the moment. I tend to think that Rebekah had been thinking about this possibility for some time and that many of the props were already in place for this theatrical production. How could she possibly have considered minute details such as the goatskin gloves and neck coverings in so short a time? And how, in a few moments time, could they have been fashioned so expertly so as to have fooled Isaac? Did she just happen to have Esau’s garments at hand even though he was married and perhaps not living at home? Rebekah was too shrewd to leave these matters to chance or to last minute accomplishment. I think this production had been staged far in advance of its performance.
In the end, Rebekah and Jacob got what they wanted and God's original intention for the younger to serve the older was revealed. But at what cost?
Deffinbaugh states:
For Rebekah and her son Jacob the price tag for their success was as costly as that of Isaac and Esau for their defeat. I have never seen anyone come away from the end results of sin with a smile on their face. Sin does not pay. Jacob and Rebekah can tearfully testify to this fact.

Rebekah loved Jacob more than life itself and, seemingly, more than Isaac. She sought his success (which happened to correspond with the revealed will of God) at any price, even deception and deceit. The price she paid was separation from her son, which appears to have lasted for the rest of her life.230 So far as we can detect, once Jacob left for Haran he never saw his mother again. Rebekah underestimated the consequences of this sin, for she thought that Jacob would only need to be gone for a short time—until the death of Isaac (27:44). But Isaac lived for a good forty years until he died at age 180 (35:28).
Jacob faced the inevitable results of sin also. He must have felt an alienation from his father, whom he had not only deceived but also mocked (cf. 27:12, marginal note in the NASV). He now had a brother who despised him and who looked for the day when he could put him to death (verse 41). And worst of all, he had to leave the mother he loved. In addition to this, all that he had gained in a material way he was unable to enjoy because he had to leave it behind to flee for his life. Sin does not pay!
Sin does not pay. It separates us from God. God can use our bad choices as part of his plan but his plan is not dependent on our sin. 

The purpose of God as expressed to Rebekah in Genesis 25:23 was perfectly accomplished without one alteration. The sins of Isaac and Esau and Rebekah and Jacob did not in any way thwart God’s will from being done. In fact, their sins were employed by God in such a way as to achieve the will of God. God’s sovereignty is never thwarted by man’s sin. To the contrary, God is able to achieve His purposes by employing man’s sinful acts to further His plans.
This is not to say that God makes man sin in order to achieve His purposes. Nor is it even to imply that God regards disobedience any less sinful because He turns evil into good. The sins of each party in this chapter are not glossed over or excused. No one has passed the responsibility for their actions on to God. No one can place the burden of guilt on God because of His decree. Sin is due to man’s depravity.
Had all acted in obedience, God would have employed some other means to bring about the blessing of Jacob instead of Esau. God did not create a situation in which men had to sin in order for His will to be done. Neither will He ever do so. We never have to sin as Christians (I Corinthians 10:13; cf. James 1:13). While God “causes all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28), He does not create evil in order to bring resulting good. We are responsible for our sin, not God. He allows it; He uses it; but He does not necessitate it.

I think we all somehow believe that we can "help" God. We might believe that God wants us to be in a certain place or that he wants us to have a certain thing or that he would want us to be happy. We do our own things to make sure it happens. It is our human nature to be impatient. We want answers now. We want to know. We are surrounded by a mentality of instant gratification and yet God often calls on us to wait on Him...and we tend to be very bad at it. However, we are reminded by this passage that even if it seems like ends justify the means that it may not be worth the consequences. 

1 comment:

TammyIsBlessed said...

I, too, had not recognized before how manipulative Isaac was in this process. But he really was. There was a lot of blame to go around in this story. And it's so sad - there were such lasting consequences to this sin. Sin never pays!