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Stubborn Persistence — Genesis Chapter 27

This blog post will cover the devotionals #125-128 for Genesis Chapter 27.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[125] Genesis 27:1-4

In devotional #122, we mentioned why each parent preferred a particular son, but we didn’t go as deeply into it as we could’ve. Jacob was intentional, persevering, careful, and thought more about the future than the present. He was content working the soil and the flocks. Rebekah was drawn to his thriftiness, affection, and foresight. It seems to me that Jacob was a lot like contemplative Isaac (compared to his authoritative father, Abraham), and maybe that’s why Isaac wasn’t so interested (and may be one of the reasons why Rebekah was—perhaps she saw the same characteristics she loved in her husband). On the other hand, the boisterous Esau always longed for liberty, adventure, and the chase. He thrived on instant gratification. This is what drove him to become a hunter. It was in stark contrast to the quiet humility of his peace-loving, shepherd father, but also what attracted his father to him. Although Isaac knew Esau had defied their wishes for him not to marry heathen women and was also aware of the plans that God had for his two sons, Isaac was still insistent upon blessing Esau—his favorite son. Isaac didn’t know that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob for some lentils, so Esau was hoping to obtain it despite Jacob’s claim upon it. We’ll see, in devotional #127, if Isaac still would've tried blessing Esau with that knowledge, etc. Isaac knew his end was nearing—he was over one hundred years old—and wanted to bless his eldest son before it was too late. He also wanted to enjoy his deer meat one last time. If there hadn’t been the traditions of feasting before the blessing, Rebekah and Jacob wouldn’t have had an opportunity to sneak in while Esau was out on his errand. However, Isaac, being basically blind by then, thought that the task he sent Esau to carry out was a private affair. He didn’t know that Rebekah had overheard their conversation. He’d intended it to be a secret—knowing that Rebekah and Jacob were opposed to his intentions. She’d tried to convince him through reasoning but had been unsuccessful. However, whether or not Isaac had blessed Esau in the end, only God could’ve prospered him—or allowed him to struggle. It’d all depend on whether he followed God like Abel did or disrespected Him like Cain did. The same was true for Jacob. In devotional #127, we’ll also see another similarity between these two sets of brothers, after we see the blessing bestowed on one of them.

[126] Genesis 27:5-29

Rebekah was more discerning about their sons' characters and recognized the promise was meant for Jacob. The birthright gave privileges (worldly wealth) / spiritual responsibilities. Esau despised religious devotion (a barrier to his worldly freedom), so the conditions of God’s law constrained him. The Messiah would come through him. He was required to be priest of his family and devote his life to God's service, so he’d have to consult God’s will in his marriage, public life, etc. He'd already defied this—especially in choosing heathen wives. When he sold the birthright to Jacob, he was relieved to be fully released from its requirements, making him more comfortable marrying more heathen women. Jacob, on the other hand, greatly desired these things. He preferred the spiritual blessings over Isaac's wealth that would come from the birthright. He wanted a relationship with God that would parallel his grandfather’s—to be the ancestor of both the chosen people and their Messiah; to sacrifice to atone for his family's sins; to have the immortal, eternal inheritance that came with it. This was the subject of his constant thought-life, yet he had no experimental knowledge of his beloved God. Thus, he (like his mother) couldn’t believe God could fulfill His Word through Jacob unless he got the blessing of the birthright from his father. So, he took advantage of Esau’s weakness of appetite, and eventually deceived his own father. Rebekah overheard Isaac’s private conversation with Esau. Because she’d unsuccessfully tried convincing Isaac that Jacob was whom God said would be blessed and greater, she felt she had no choice but to obtain her goal by deception. She was concerned Isaac would ruin God's plans and felt justified in steering the course in the right direction. Jacob was distressed at the thought of deceiving his father, even though he greatly desired the blessing—as he feared it’d curse him instead. He’d gone so far as to barter with Esau’s weakness of appetite to obtain it but was still in danger of missing out (in his father’s upcoming secret meeting) on what Esau swore would be Jacob’s. However, this seemed to be taking things too far, because now a direct lie would likely be involved. Though his deception was an act falsehood, he might have gotten away without a direct lie if he didn’t have to tell his father who he was (maybe he hoped things would move forward by him simply showing up with the meat), but he knew his skin alone would reveal his identity (despite Isaac’s blindness). Rebekah had a plan for that too. She took some of Esau’s clothes (made of goat skins / hair) and layered them over the skin exposed on his hands and neck. When Isaac understood the voice was Jacob’s, he had to touch him. He recognized the skin as Esau’s, but he went further and had Jacob kiss him so he’d be near enough to smell. This helped seal the deal for Isaac because what Jacob wore wasn’t just a hairy skin, but the clothing that Esau wore—so it also had his smell. Despite the hair he wore, he still ended up lying to his father, not once, but five times. He claimed to be Esau, the eldest, twice. He claimed he’d done what Isaac had told him to do (in bringing meat), and that his goat meat was venison (deer meat), which he got so quickly because God had brought it to him. His deception was too great to avoid lying in order to substantiate it, so he went way farther than he’d intended and couldn’t turn back. It must have been so hard knowing he was being blessed while still in his shameful act of deception. Isaac proceeded, “Therefore, let God give you of the dew of Heaven and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve you, and nations bow down to you: be lord over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you: let everyone that curses you be cursed, and let him that blesses you be blessed.”

[127] Genesis 27:30-42,46

Isaac lived many years longer after he’d blessed Jacob in Esau’s place. As we saw, in devotional #125, Isaac was determined to give Esau the blessing, despite knowing what God predicted and how Esau went against His marital laws. It wasn’t until he saw their courses of action following the blessing that he finally understood the blessing was rightly Jacob's. Even while still realizing Jacob’s sin and explaining it to Esau, he saw how it was allowed by God to overrule his plan to give Esau the birthright, because Jacob was clearly best fit to accomplish God’s purposes. This is why he reconfirmed Jacob’s blessing was solidified by repeating it to Esau (and even realized that he’d felt inspired as he spoke it to Jacob). This reminds me a lot of what happened with Abraham, concerning his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. He believed Ishmael (whom he’d fathered by trying to accomplish God’s purpose himself) would be the fulfillment of God’s plan, even though God told him several times that Sarah would give him a son that would accomplish the promise. It took some time and convincing for him to understand that he was wrong and that the blessings of God belonged to his younger son, as told by God. And though Abraham felt sorrowful and disappointed in having to send Ishmael away—and that he wasn’t the heir and son of the promise—he knew that it was God’s purpose being accomplished. Isaac felt the same, knowing what Esau would now go through because of Jacob’s blessing. Esau wasn’t upset about missing out on the spiritual blessing, but because the temporal birthright would’ve granted him a double portion of his father’s wealth, as well as the position of patriarch in their family. This is why he still went to receive the blessing, despite having sworn to Jacob that it was now his. So, when Isaac told him all he’d bestowed to Jacob and that there was nothing left for him, he was intensely angered. What he took for granted before was now forever out of his reach. He grieved and repented, but he was sorrowful for the results of his sin, not the sin itself. He didn’t turn to God with true repentance. If he had, God could’ve still blessed him in other ways (which He would’ve done anyway when He used His own way of making sure Jacob received the blessing that He always intended for him). Esau didn’t desire a relationship with God. In devotional #125, we also saw that the comparison of the blessings and curses that these two brothers would’ve received from God was just like those that would’ve been obtained from the first brothers, Cain and Abel. Just as Cain was infuriated at the results of his and Abel’s offerings, and killed him, Esau was likewise enraged, and swore to kill his ‘younger’ brother, Jacob. In Genesis 4:6-8, God had said to Cain,“…‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted, and if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. His desire will be to you, and you will rule over him.’ And Cain spoke with Abel, his brother: and it happened that, when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and murdered him.” Esau made his intentions known to Rebekah, and she couldn’t bear the thought of losing her precious son (she already felt like she'd lost Esau), so she sent Jacob away until Esau’s anger could be calmed and he could return home safely. Rebekah was so concerned that Jacob might repeat Esau’s sin in marrying a Canaanite woman (or several) that she didn’t know if she could survive the added stress that it’d cause her. This could be part of the reason that she specifically sent Jacob to her brother, Laban—because at least he’d be less likely to connect with a heathen woman while he was away. Isaac told him to take a wife from his mother’s family in Mesopotamia—because he was the heir of God’s promise and needed to abide by His requirements.

[128] Genesis 27:43-45

If Rebekah and Jacob had trusted God to accomplish His purposes, they would’ve gotten what they desperately desired, but with only positive results. This is very similar to what happened with Abraham and Sarah. Their lack of faith in God’s ability and timing is what brought great strife and suffering to their family, along with the blessing that God still granted them. Rebekah and Jacob got what they wanted through their deception, but something negative came with it. They had to be separated to avoid the risk of his murder, and though she intended to call him home when the coast was clear—he was gone for twenty years, and she never saw him again. Isaac was already over one hundred when he blessed Jacob. He'd married Rebekah at forty. We don’t know exactly how old she was, but probably not horribly far behind him in age, so she probably died while Jacob was away. Rebekah had misguided her son and she was very sorrowful for doing it. It lost them their close relationship. However, she certainly wasn't the only one who suffered great regret and consequences. Jacob (as we saw in devotional #126) was already suffering shame and its symptoms, even as Isaac was blessing him. He knew he’d sinned against his family and God, and was full of self-condemnation. Even though Isaac reassured him of his blessing and God’s promise as he was sent off to Mesopotamia, he left unsure of that and felt like an outcast (when he was meant to be the next patriarch). He knew he chose this by his wrong actions. He had to travel hundreds of miles through lands of wild tribes, which he feared would give up his location to his brother. It was a lonely journey, and in response to his vulnerable prayers to God, he felt Satan’s accusing temptations instead of God’s reassurance. His soul was in a dark place, and though God hadn’t forsaken him, he felt that way. This sure reminds me of the experience Jesus went through in Gethsemane and at Calvary. He felt alone and in despair, and like He had been forsaken by His Father—surrounded by Satan’s attacks and God’s loudest silence He had ever experienced, but He clung to hope in God’s promises and moved forward—and He was never truly alone.

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