Monday 28 September 2015

Bible Book:

“He did not recognise his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.” (v. 23)

Genesis 27:1-5a, 15-29 Monday 28 September 2015

Psalm: Psalm 99


This popular Sunday School story has a ring of comic farce aboutit, almost like a pantomime.

Scene 1 (verses 1-4): The father, Isaac, sends his eldest (andhairiest) son Esau out to hunt - to prepare a meal for him, "sothat he can bless him". Eager for his dad's blessing, the firstborntwin rushes out to the fields.

Scene 2 (verses 5-17): The eavesdropping wife, Rebekah,conceives a deceptive plot! While Esau is out, she finds some ofhis smelly clothes, gets Jacob to kill some goats and then makes ameal she knows Isaac will love.

Scene 3 (verses 18-29): Enter Jacob, dressed in his brother'sclothes, and covered in goat's hair, carrying a bowl of his mum'sdelicious hotpot! He hasn't mastered Esau's voice though.

"That was quick, son!"
"God gave me success, Dad."
"Hmm, really? Come a bit closer, so I can check you out."
"Well, you certainly are the goat-haired smelly one, even if youdo have Jacob's voice!"
"Here, dad, I've prepared you a meal."
"Delicious! You cook just like your Mother! Now, son, let me blessyou…"

This is a complicated and dysfunctional family. The lies anddeception probably arise from mistrust and favouritism within thefamily unit. Isaac favours Esau, while Jacob the second-born twinis Rebekah's favourite. Although they hadn't been written at thatstage, Jacob possibly breaks five of the Ten Commandments (Exodus20): He desires the favour his brother had with his father (no.10: coveting), this leads him to lie to his father (no. 9: falsetestimony), he thus dishonours his father (no. 5: on parents), anduses the name of God for immoral purposes (no. 3: blasphemy). Aspart of the deception, he also borrowed his brother's clotheswithout asking (no. 8: stealing). (The goats would argue he alsobroke no. 6: murder!)

There is a certain irrational jealousy in Jacob, driven by hismother, to take this blessing away from Esau. What we need toremember, is that earlier in the story Jacob had already takenadvantage of his brother in a vulnerable state to get him to handover his birthright as first-born son (Genesis 25:29-34). Whether we agree with theprivilege given to this status or not, Jacob has already deprivedEsau of something extremely precious. Although he is thesecond-born, he owns the status and right of the first-born. Why ishe then so insecure as to desire the final blessing old Isaacwanted to give Esau? A family psychologist would have afield-day!

Scene 4 in this pantomime turns it rather more tragic (Genesis 27:30-45), as we witness thedevastation of Esau, returning with his offering, when his fatherreveals he only had one really good blessing to offer, and once thewords were spoken he couldn't take them back. Instead he offersonly words of resignation, inevitability and a glimmer ofconsolation.

But what of the blessing Jacob received? Well, it stands -regardless of the morality of the circumstances! There is a senseof the undeserving receiving a precious and life-giving gift, andwhere that comes in the context of God's chosen family we usuallycall it 'grace'. God does not operate on the basis of merit. Jacobdidn't deserve his blessing; how often do we? And the words ofIsaac to the 'wrong' son, turned out to be prophetic for Jacob, whowould become Israel. They were prophetic for him, for his sonJoseph, for the nation that would bear his name, and even possiblyfor the one true Firstborn Son, who would become the true Israel:Jesus. By God's grace alone, it is Jacob's family line that carriesforward the blessing and purposes of God.

To Ponder

  • How would you feel if you were Esau? How would you react?
  • What blessings have you received, which you didn't deserve?What example can you see of God's grace in your life?
  • Families are rarely perfect, rarely uncomplicated! In your ownfamily, where might God be working through the strife anddifficulty to bring out blessing? 


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