This week is ridiculous; my partner has such bad luck that I’m beginning to think that she wronged a gypsy or something. (No offense to gypsies.)
But anyway, here I am. I haven’t missed a day yet, and I don’t plan to start today.
Back to Jacob and Esau.
Isaac is old and dying and cannot see very well. He is also either unfamiliar with the Lord’s promise to Rebekah (Gen 25:23) or doesn’t believe it. (?) Either way, how strange for a man of God such as he.
He calls Esau, the older brother who is destined by God to serve the younger, the brother who has already lost his birthright over a bowl of soup… Isaac calls Esau and asks him to go hunt game and serve it to Isaac, and then Esau will receive a blessing. Rebekah overhears this business and will have none of it.
She tells her son Jacob, whom she loves, to go through this elaborate Scooby-Doo-villain scheme wherein he will disguise himself as his older brother to receive the blessing. This all seems like a moot point, since back in Genesis 26, Esau already gave up his birthright. It would seem that his words didn’t mean all that much. If Jacob wants everything that comes with that birthright, then by gosh, he’s got to get it himself.
This is probably the point that struck me most powerfully: even though Rebekah (and hypothetically, Jacob) knew about God’s blessing/prophecy, they did not just sit around and wait for it to happen. Many people have said that God helps those who help themselves, and to me it seems that “helping oneself” requires taking action, much like the joke about the drowning man I shared the other day.
Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will, but Rebekah is determined to see Jacob receive his father’s blessing, and she is dead-set on making it happen. I think many people feel a strong calling, or have a great deal of potential, but without the determination and drive to fulfill that potential… well, let’s just say that you reap what you sow, and God isn’t going to pull you out of your own mess. Even lottery winners end up (statistically) unhappy and often broke. But I digress.
Esau heads out to hunt, and Rebekah dresses Jacob up in his brother’s clothes and puts goat skin on his smooth body so that his father might be fully deceived. Rebekah prepares a meal for her husband and the ruse is ready. Jacob goes in, does his thing, lies to his father, and obtains a blessing, which, Matthew Henry points out, amounts to some generic nonsense.
“No mention is made of the distinguishing mercies in the covenant with Abraham. This might be owing to Isaac having Esau in his mind, though it was Jacob who was before him. He could not be ignorant how Esau had despised the best things. Moreover, his attachment to Esau, so as to disregard the mind of God, must have greatly weakened his own faith in these things.”¹
So Jacob takes his blessing and dips out, and in true sitcom fashion, Esau walks in immediately afterward. (Laugh track.) Esau gets all indignant once he finds out what happened, even though however long ago it was, he gave up his “despised” birthright.
“The day is coming, when those that now make light of the blessings of the covenant, and sell their title to spiritual blessings for that which is of no value, will, in vain, ask urgently for them.”¹
True story. This is an amazing statement. Esau cries or whines or moans or whatever about something that he gave up and now wants back. How often do we give up our future for things of no value? How often do we trade away our presence in the now for temporary pleasures or gratifications? We only get so many second chances; eventually the day comes when we have none.
This whole darn family is messed up. Isaac and Esau disobey God, Rebekah and Jacob lie and cheat to try and “fix” things. When we take matters into our own hands and disregard our innermost feelings, when we deny the presence of the divine in our lives or within us, we are asking for trouble. Surrender to God is key.
Esau vows to kill his brother for wronging him (Cain-style), and Rebekah makes up another ruse, telling her husband that she wants Jacob to leave town and find a wife in the old country because she can’t take another one of these Hittite girls in the family. Leave it to a Jewish mother, am I right? (No offense to the Jews.)
Anyway, I will end today’s post with one last quote from dear Mr. Henry:
“When reading this chapter, we should not fail to observe, that we must not follow even the best of men further than they act according to the law of God. We must not do evil that good may come.”¹
¹ Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=27&com=mhc