Isaac's family was plagued by distrust and scheming, but a dysfunctional family is no match for the sovereign hand of God. In spite of the continuing battle between Jacob and Esau, and the deceptive habits that have been passed down for generations, the Lord's plan will not be thwarted. His ways are not our ways, and He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.
The book of Genesis is rich with theology including creation, the fall of man, and justification by grace through faith. Genesis, the book of beginnings, provides foundational truths from which we can learn who God is and how He operates in the lives of His people.
In this study of Genesis, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth examination and fresh perspective of familiar stories like the creation, Adam & Eve, Noah and the Flood, the call of Abraham, and Sodom and Gomorrah. This series offers solid information to equip believers with truth in today's battle against the lies of evolution, the basic goodness of man, and a "fairy tale" approach to the Bible.
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Isaac's family was plagued by distrust and scheming, but a dysfunctional family is no match for the sovereign hand of God. In spite of the continuing battle between Jacob and Esau, and the deceptive habits that have been passed down for generations, the Lord's plan will not be thwarted. His ways are not our ways, and He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.
Keywords: Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Rebekah, birthright, sovereignty, bless, lying, deceit, hate, feelings
The 27th chapter of Genesis is in view tonight. It's a very sad story about four people--a family. Isaac married to his beautiful wife Rebekah have by this time had two sons, we read about them in chapter 25 as they were born, Esau and Jacob. They were twins, though Esau was born first and Jacob followed. Those are the main characters in this story, those four people and as you go through the story, there's one glaring apparent truth. No one in this family trusts one another. Isaac is the father. He does not trust his son, Jacob, he favors his son, Esau, and he does not trust his wife, Rebekah. The Lord had spoken to Rebekah and said that the youngest son would one day be in charge and the oldest son would serve the younger.
In this chapter, his heels are dug in and he's saying, no way am I going to let that happen. I'm going to bless my oldest son before she even knows about it. I certainly won't tell her and I won't tell Jacob. They've been holding on to that promise their whole life. Then you have Rebekah. Rebekah is listening to the conversation that Dad and number one son, Esau, have together. She's eavesdropping and as she's listening, she starts scheming, manipulating, conniving, figuring out a way to overturn the wishes of her husband. Then you have Esau, who's always lived for himself, lived for his own flesh. Then you have Jacob who will go along with his mother and has already, in the past, proven to dislike his brother and here will seek to steal a blessing.
So all four people in this family are messed up. They don't trust each other. It is one dysfunctional family. The greater truth behind chapter 27 is that, though it's a dysfunctional family, it's a very functional God. God will function in the midst of their dysfunction. Here's a dysfunctional family but God will override all of the weirdness, all of the superstition, all of the stupidity, and get His will done anyway. So on one hand it's a sad story, on the other hand it's a wonderful story of how God uses messed up people. That's why I like this chapter. The foolish things of this world, the weak things of this world, are seen in chapter 27. Really, if you think about it, this shouldn't surprise us. This is the continuing saga of Abraham's family. Isaac was Abraham's son. Like father, like son. Abraham lied twice about his wife being his sister. Isaac lies about his wife being his sister. So we shouldn't be surprised that Jacob and his Mom are tied together in trying to lie and misrepresent their own will and supersede that over God's will. It has run in the family. It's been a family trait for a long time.
But on a human level it's sad because you're going to see some of the repercussions already by the end of this chapter. It was Shakespeare who wrote, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when at first we practice to deceive." Be careful about how you represent truth. And some people see no problem with what they call little lies or white lies. Oh, it was just a little lie--it was just a little lie. C.S. Lewis used to say a little lie is like a little pregnancy. You might not notice it at first but as the months go on it's apparent that there's a pregnancy. And so it is with a lie. As years go on, the lie will become more and more apparent.
Now chapter 27, let's call it round three, shall we, of the fight between Esau and Jacob. Round one was while they were still in the womb. Remember they were womb mates? They were twins as Rebekah was pregnant and she was having a difficult pregnancy and she called out to the Lord and she said, you know, I don't know why I'm having such a difficult pregnancy but there's a lot of movement, there's like a wrestling match going on inside me. And the Lord said well there's two nations that are in your womb. No wonder. Not just one child, you have two children who will become nations. They were struggling in the womb. When the birth date came and Esau was born first, the second one Jacob came out grabbing the heel of his first born brother, as if he were grabbing him to trip him or pull him back in. So he was given the name Jacob, supplanter, or one who grabs the heel, or one who trips one another up.
We read about that back in chapter 25 and I'm just going to, if you want to just turn back a page you can notice, because that is the beginning of chapter 27. Chapter 26 is a hiatus from that. It says in verse 25 of chapter 25, "And the first came out red." He was also hairy like a garment--a hairy old baby. So they called him hairy, Esau. "Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob." Heel-catcher. "Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them." So their character, this is what I want to show you, their character shows up at their birth. One is going to trip up his brother. Now that will continue through life. This is round one.
Round two is, as the chapter goes on, Esau is hungry, comes home to Jacob and says, look, I'm hungry; cook me that really great red chile stew that you love to make. Jacob said I'd love to make you a bowl of red chile stew but I want your birthright. You're the firstborn son; I want to assume the privilege of being the firstborn son. Esau's response was interesting. He goes, what good is a birthright to me? You can't eat it. I'm hungry. I can't eat my birthright. And it says he despised his birthright. Jacob knew the power of the spiritual blessing behind the birthright so he said, great, it's a deal. A bowl of beans with red chile, of course, for a birthright. That was round two.
Round three of this battle is in chapter 27 as now Jacob will connive to steal the blessing from his brother. Now there's something you need to remember as we're working our way through this chapter. Both Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, had their favorite child. And that was bad--it really divided the family. Because the kids knew that. They saw that. They felt that. For Isaac, his favorite son was Esau because Esau was a man's man. He was very masculine. He loved the field, he loved to hunt, he had a gun rack in his pickup truck, had Field & Stream Magazine all over the place, he was an outdoorsman. Like a northern New Mexico hippie--a man of the field. And Isaac preferred a masculine son.
Jacob, on the other hand, was not like a northern New Mexican hippie. He was more like a San Franciscan. That is, he was cultured; he was a man of the city. It says he was smooth skinned, he loved to cook; he'd watch Martha Stewart over and over again just to learn how to make that soufflé so nice. Rebekah preferred him. He dwelt in tents, he was a more cultured, not a man of the outdoors. And so they each had their favorite and that will widen the gap and the animosity between these two boys as time goes on.
We're told that in verse 28 of chapter 25. "Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob." As much as Isaac loves his son and wants to pass the blessing on to his firstborn son, it was God who already said the elder, Esau, will serve the younger, that is the younger Jacob will get the blessing. He's going to reverse the traditional law. That was God's order. Isaac wants to make sure that doesn't happen. He's going to go against the revealed will and Word of God.
There's a real lesson in watching out for first impressions that we might have. Just as there was Esau and Jacob said, you know, this is the guy that I want to have the blessing. Surely this must be the Lord's choice because I like him. My choice must be God's choice. He's a man's man; he represents masculinity, well that's going to be my choice. But it wasn't God's choice. Our first impressions can be misleading. If we're going by image we can mislead. If we go by feelings we can be mislead. You recall the story of when Saul was rejected by God and the Lord sent the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel and the sons of David were brought before him and the first one that the prophet Samuel noticed was that tall, masculine, handsome, regal-looking Eliab. And when he saw the oldest, Eliab, Samuel immediately thought, surely this is the Lord's anointed.
And he was going to crown him as king, pour the oil on him. And God spoke to his heart and said, no you won't. I've rejected him. For the Lord, said God, the Lord does not see as man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. The very one that all of the family despised and rejected was out in the fields. His name was David. He was the shepherd boy. That was God's choice. It was Samuel's choice, it was not the family's choice, but it was God's choice. We judge by appearance. We vote by appearance. We want leaders that seem handsome and look the part and look as if they're intelligent and look as if they're decisive. That's who we want. We're very image conscious. And that's tragic. That's a mistake because our first impression may not be the right choice.
American politics changed from the 50s and the 60s in a very key debate between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Millhouse Nixon. It was the first televised presidential debate. That's when everything changed in America, did you know that? It is believed that Kennedy won the election because of that televised debate. People saw and made their judgment for Kennedy based upon what they saw on television. So what they saw was Richard Nixon, who was sick in the past, he was sweaty on his brow and sweaty, sweat rolling down his face, so he looked sickly and pale because he had been sick. Plus his fashion statement wasn't quite right. He wore a pale grey suit that sort of washed him out. Whereas Kennedy wore a dark suit, had just come off a vacation and looked tanned and confident. And he won the vote. And many pundits looked back on that publicized debate as what won the election. And that's when, in politics, people started not looking at crucial issues as much as image.
Well that's what's going on in this house. Dad is all about the image. Can't have this little puny wimpy kid as the head of my family! I want Esau! Well years go by after this, what we just read in chapter 25, now we're in chapter 27, 37 years are between chapters 26 and 27. That's how many years passed between just those two chapters. That's the gap between 26 and 27--37 years. In chapter 27 verse 1, Isaac is now 137 years old and he's failing, his eyesight is giving out and he thinks he's about to die.
So let's watch what happens. It's very intriguing: "Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son." And he answered him, "Here I am." Then he said, "Behold now, I am old." I like the fact that he admitted it, didn't try to cover it up or change it, it's just, I am who I am, what you see is what you get. Behold now, like, look, check it out. You can see this, right? I'm old? "I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me." In the King James Bible, it's venison. Nothing like a venison steak. My dad used to be a hunter and would bring it home and my mom, like Rebekah, knew just how to cook venison. And it's not easy to get the taste right. So he was dreaming of it. He thought, I'm old, I can't see, and this is a perfect chance for me to get a great meal and bless my favorite son. So it's just going to be a deal between us two gentlemen.
Oh by the way, this is going to sort of throw a wrench in your whole view of this, this blessing chapter. We have Sunday school view of Isaac being on his bed and blessing his two sons and we think, oh his sons are probably in their twenties. They were both 77 in this chapter. So the whole Sunday school view that you have growing up of this chapter, of Isaac blessing his young sons, throw it out. He's 137; they're 77 and still hanging around home. I find it interesting that he's at 137, now that's old. But he's sure he's going to die. He just knows he's going to die. I gotta get ready because I'm going to die. You know what really happened? You know how long he lived? Another 43 years. So I'm thinking that this guy was a little bit of a hypochondriac. You know, he's the kind of person that would go on Web M.D. when they have any kind of an ache or pain and they'd read about every disease and they'd think, I have all of them. I knew it. Or they'd talk to a friend, I know I'm gonna die! Like the woman who had a tombstone and it read, "See? I told you I was sick." I think that was Isaac. I think he was sure he was going to die but he wasn't going to die for 43 more years. Why did he think he was going to die? Here's my guess. His half-brother Ishmael died at 137 years old. So when he got to his birthday he thought, I can't have much longer to live, Ishmael kicked the bucket at this age, I gotta get this blessing thing all sewed up. So he called his son in, told him to go out, "And make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul," verse 4, "may bless you before I die."
Now Rebekah was listening." She's eavesdropping. She's not in the room; she wasn't invited. But she's close enough to overhear it and she does. "When Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt game and to bring it. So Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, "Indeed I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, ‘Bring me game and make savory food for me, that I may eat it and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.' Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you." If you're wondering where Jacob got his conniving character from, look no further than his mother. His mother taught him the ropes. She was a pro. She was clever. She was a master. And he learned from the best. She had already concocted this scheme. "Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves." I'll make it taste just like the venison that he's saying he wants from Esau. And "then you shall take it to your father, that he may eat it, and that he may bless you before his death."
Classic. Classic. Here's a human being trying to help poor God out. Now God had said to Rebekah, it was to Rebekah when she said, why am I having such a difficult pregnancy? And God said because two nations are in your womb and gave her the prophecy, the older will serve the younger. So she's thinking, how am I going to make this work? What's the answer to that? You're not supposed to make it work! If God said He'll do it--He'll do it! With or without you. Through or not through you. You don't have to manipulate or connive or help God out. Now that's a trap a lot of us fall into. Here's the trap. Knowing the Word of God, doing the will of God, but not doing it in the way of God. That's the trap. The trap is that the end will justify the means. Doesn't matter how you get to it. Just arrive at that end. God said this is gonna happen, I'll help God get there. Knowing the will of God, or the Word of God, doing the will of God, but not in the way of God. Does it matter?
Well just ask Moses. God said, Moses? You're gonna be the deliverer of the children of Israel. Oh he's all excited. Well, he's nervous but he's all excited. He's still working in the courts of Egypt. So one day when he sees an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew he thinks, I gotta do something about that. I'm the deliverer. So he goes over and he rebukes the Egyptian for mistreating the Hebrew, because he is a Hebrew. The Egyptian doesn't want to hear about it so Moses kills the Egyptian and he thinks the Hebrews are going to make me a hero because I killed one of their enemies. Well they didn't make him a hero. They didn't trust him after that. In fact, they pointed the finger at him, said you're the guy that murdered the Egyptian! Once he found that he was found out, Moses fled for 40 years in the Midian desert. Forty long, lonely years. He'll be back.
But it'll take 40 years for him to reach the lesson so God can use him--wasted years. But years where God is molding and shaping his character all because he tried to help God out. Didn't have to help God out. You just got to what God says and He'll do it through you. Or ask David if this concept is pertinent in his life. He'll tell you. You know the story that David thought the ark of God is out in Philistine country because they captured it. We need to bring it up to Jerusalem. So one day he arranged for a big parade, 20,000 people were there, and there was dancing and there was singing and he knew how to throw a party.
And so he takes the Ark of the Covenant because he wants to take it from Philistine country up to Jerusalem and he puts it on a cart and he has two people, one in front, one in back, one is Ahio up in front and in the back Uzzah. And as they're going down the road the road gets a little bit shaky and the wheels start to move a little bit and the ark starts tipping and Uzzah gets so afraid that the ark's gonna tip over, so I have to, he thought, steady the ark and help God maintain His composure on His way up to Jerusalem. So he touched the ark simply, simply to steady it. He had the best intentions, right? He had everything good in his heart. As soon as he touched it, God struck him dead. Talk about raining on one's parade. The parade was over. Everybody went home. David was totally bummed out. He just couldn't believe God would do something like that!
And months went by and he was pouting and pouting and then one day he decided, I'm going to read my Bible. And as he read through the Scripture, he discovered that the way God prescribed the movement of the ark wasn't on a cart for efficiency. You don't put it on a wagon or put it in a pickup. It has to be carried on the shoulders of the priest. That there's two staves, one on either side, two priests in the front, two in the back, and it's covered and that's how it goes to its place. That's how God prescribed it. That's His way. Knowing God's Word, doing God's will but not in God's way is not good.
Well when he discovered that he decided to take the ark up the right way, put it on priest's shoulders. They went six steps, only six steps, now it was six miles away they had to go. They'd walk six steps, stop, build an altar, kill an animal, and sacrifice the animal. Go six more steps, kill an animal, sacrifice the animal, six more steps. Now to the average person in the world they would say, that's not efficient. That's not efficient. The ark on a cart--that's efficient. You're right, it's not efficient. But it's effective. The ark got to Jerusalem, yes? Right? Slowly but it got there, yes? The other way did the ark get to Jerusalem--the efficient way? It didn't get there. So what is considered to be efficient by the world may not be effective in God's standards. You're to wait on God. You're to seek God's will. You're to read God's Word. You are to have the right motivation. But you are to do it God's way. The cart idea was the Philistine's. They're the ones that took the ark and captured it on a cart.
Now what is a cart? A cart is simply boards and big wheels. And that's what a lot of Christian organizations do. Let's have a board meeting and bring in the big wheels and let's get this thing moving. But if they're not seeking the mind, the heart, and the ways of God, even that group of Christians can go astray. What is He saying? What is God wanting? What is the next step? It's important to wait on the Lord. It can be sometimes the most effective way to get things moving. Well I digressed. A bit. No I think I amplified it. Let's go now to verse 11. Look what Jacob said: "Jacob said to Rebekah his mother," now listen carefully, watch this carefully, "Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man," and I'm a smoothie. Smooth man. Skin is in italics, it's not in the original Hebrew. I'm a smoothie. Smooth man. Smooth operator. "Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall," watch, "I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing." You shall seem to be a deceiver? Little Jacob, you'll seem to be a deceiver because you are a deceiver!
But isn't it interesting that what he is worried about isn't the fact that he is a liar and a deceiver but that he'll be found out as one? He'll seem to be one. A lot of people are concerned more about what they seem to be than really what they are. What will people think about me? You know, honestly, who cares? Who are you really--is what counts. There's a big difference between your reputation and your character. Your reputation is what other people think you are. Your character is what you know you are. Look at it like a bushel of apples. Reputation, it's that top layer of apples in the market. The ones they put up there to sell the bushel. That's the reputation--the ones you look at. The character is all the apples underneath. A box of cereal. The picture on the front? That's the reputation. The cereal inside? That's the character.
Your character is who you really are when no one's looking. It's what you say when you're talking to people who don't know you go to church. It's what you do at night in a hotel room when nobody's there to see except God. That's your character. I'm gonna seem to be a deceiver. Dude, you are way past that. You are numero uno deceiver. And then he's worried about, then I'm gonna get a curse and not a blessing. "But his mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me," can you imagine that? I'll take the curse. If you get a curse, you know, just move out of the way, it'll hit me--no problem. "Only obey my voice," now keep in mind, he's 77 years old and his mommy's saying, you better listen, "Go, get them for me." And he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved.
Then Rebekah took the choice clothes," I laugh because I think you'll get the drift, "took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and the smooth part of his neck." She knew that the only way this trickery was going to work is, since her husband's eyes weren't functioning well, that his senses, his nose, was still sharp and acute, she knew that, we have to deceive him with smell. And Esau had his own B.O. He had the outdoorsy B.O. That was his body odor. We gotta, we gotta put, you know, Jacob was, like, Giorgio Armani, that was his smell, Esau was more like locker room ambience. So we gotta get that somehow on Jacob. And so wear some of your brother's clothes. It's a dead giveaway. And then she put the skins that had the hair on it because his brother was hairy on his hands because that's where his father would feel and the smooth part of his neck.
Now it's interesting, Kyle and Dieletsch, two great linguistic scholars of the Old Testament, report that in ancient cultures hairpieces had been used for generations. From this time all the way up to the Roman times, people took long animal hair, horse hair, goat hair, camel's hair, and used it to supplement, they had hairpieces, basically, back then, as a substitute for their own hair. To make a hairpiece and so this was not uncommon, to use animal skins for that kind of a purpose. But to put it on the hands was a little odd but they had to fix smoothie up to be like his brother. "Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. So he went to his father and said, "My father." Ummm… "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me." But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" And he said, "Because the Lord your God brought it to me." Oooh. His mama taught him well. He's a spiritual fraud. He's now using God to further his agenda.
Now, you know what this is called? Taking the Lord's name in vain. Well I always thought it was just like cussing. No. the idea of taking the Lord's name, one better translation is, "Never take the Lord's name lightly on your lips." It's where you take the Lord's name and you empty it of its real potency, its content, and you try to use it for your own agenda. So this is God-talk. This is like, praise the Lord, daddy, God, you know, just put a deer right in the road. It's a lie but he's using God's name to further his agenda. Every now and then, when a person wants to further his agenda, and they want you to buy into his thing, instead of saying, you know, I've been thinking about something lately and this is what I believe, what he'll say is, the Lord spoke to me. The Lord is leading me. Maybe so. Maybe He has spoken to you, maybe He is leading you, or maybe He's not but using His name will make people go, oh, well who am I to argue with God? Because I've watched the Lord seemingly lead to people into some really stupid things that I can't blame God for. So we have to be careful if we should ever use the Lord to further our agenda and that's exactly what is happening.
Isaac said to Jacob, now watch, he's suspicious, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not." Now you know there was a lump right then in Jacob's throat. He's going, oh man, I'm dead meat! Where's my mom because she's going to get that curse any moment. "So Jacob went near to Isaac," knees were shaking, I'm sure, and as he felt him and he said, "The voice is Jacob's voice," you know, he probably tried to do an imitation of his brother but the vocal chords wouldn't allow it, "but the hands are the hands of Esau." And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him." Now listen very carefully. Isaac was old. His senses were failing him. He reached out to feel and what he felt deceived him. But there was one thing that gave away his son Jacob that he should've trusted in. there's only one thing that didn't fail and it was the word that he heard. When he heard Jacob speak his words, he said, that's Jacob's voice. It's the words that I hear that make me think it's Jacob but my feelings are betraying me.
You know, a lot of times our feelings betray us, our senses fail us. And if we're not absolutely 100% using the revealed Word of God as our guide, we can be deceived. You don't know how many people over the years I've watched get into all sorts of tangents. Things like, well, I went to this meeting and I know there's nothing really about it in the Bible, the Word doesn't say what they practice was right, but I felt the presence of God! You're being deceived. You're saying the criteria for truth and error is how I feel about it at the moment. It's the word that he heard that didn't deceive him--his feelings betrayed him.
And so what we do when it comes to is this thing a biblical thing that we practice, we ask this, especially as New Testament believers: did Jesus mention it in any of the four Gospels? Number two, was it amplified in the book of Acts and practiced by the church as it was birthed? And number three, was it elucidated and amplified in the epistletory literature written by Paul, John, Peter, etcetera? So example: the Lord's Supper. Did Jesus speak about it? Yes or no? Yes. Was it practiced in the book of Acts? Yes. Was it amplified in the epistletory literature? Yes. Baptism. Did Jesus mention it? Yes. Was it practiced in the book of Acts? Yes. And did, was it spoken of and written about, yes, in the epistles. Being slain in the Spirit, that is falling over, oh, the presence, boom, and you have catchers catch you. Did Jesus mention it? Nope. Was it practiced in the book of Acts? Never. Was it ever talked about or amplified in the epistles? Never. Or the notion of Christians having demons cast out of them. Did Jesus ever predict that? Nope. Practiced in the book of Acts? Nope. In the epistles? No. Oh, but I felt… So?! What you felt was wrong. What you need to trust is the Word that you heard, not the feelings that you feel because they can be deceptive. So that is the ultimate criteria. This is a classic example of that.
Verse 24: "Then he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" You see, he's still suspicious. Are you really my son Esau? And "He said, I am." He said, "Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's game, so that my soul may bless you. So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near now and kiss me, my son." Probably still suspicious, he wants to smell him, is the idea. Come here, let me give you. You know, it's an affectionate kiss the father would give his son. Come near that I might kiss you. "And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: "Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed." So he brought him close and he thought, phew, yep, you're Esau, take the blessing and get out of here. Go out to the field.
Here's the blessing, verse 28, 29: "Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed by everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!" Can you read into that shades of the blessing that God gave to Abraham? And that Abraham gave to Isaac and now Isaac is giving to Jacob? Many of the elements are the same. I'll bless those who bless you, curse those that curse you, I'll give you the land, etcetera.
Now there was the law, do you remember the law we talked about a couple weeks ago, the law of primogeniture? The law of the firstborn? The firstborn son of the family always got the blessing, the inheritance, the birthright. He would take over and be the head of the family, take over the father's agenda, be in charge of the family. He got a double portion of all of the goods that were left over. But it meant he was the successor in the lineage to his father and I explained to you that's why Elisha the prophet said to Elijah, give me a double portion, what that means is, I want to be your successor as the prophet of Israel, as the ambassador of God for His people.
That was the law of primogeniture. God said He would reverse it here. "Now it happened, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting." So exit Jacob with the blessing in hand, his father gave him his blessing, he spoke it verbally and in those days a verbal, oral blessing was as binding as a legal, written contract. Did you know that? It was irrevocable. A blessing of a father to his son spoken orally was irrevocable. So enter Esau, fresh off the field, can't wait for the blessing to come his way. "He also had made savory food, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that your soul may bless me." And his father Isaac said to him, "Who [who] are you?" So he said, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau."
Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, "Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him," now watch, "and indeed he shall be blessed." Oooh. It dawned on him and he realized now that he had blessed the wrong boy. Actually, he blessed the right boy, that was God's promise. But in his mind, it's not what I wanted, I blessed the wrong boy! And the reason he trembled is he's under conviction. I believe he's under conviction. It's like, you know what? I was trying to pull a fast one on God and He beat me at my own game. And it's this conviction of… God, God is doing His will even though it's against my will.
Now this is what I want you to pick up on. I find this fascinating. When you get to the New Testament, the New Testament treats Isaac very kindly, did you know that when it talks about Isaac in the hall of faith in Hebrews chapter 11 it says this, one little sentence, by faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. Really? I, I would say, by trickery he blessed his son. By subterfuge he blessed his son. But it doesn't say by trickery; it doesn't say by subterfuge. It says he did it by faith. I believe it was at this moment that faith was birthed is when he found out that he had been had, found out, beat at his own game by God. And he realized God is doing what He said He would do even though I tried to prevent it and he believed and by faith he said, I blessed him and indeed he shall be blessed. I believe that's when faith was birthed--at this very moment. Indeed he shall be blessed.
There's a great proverb that I marked, I want to read it to you, in Proverbs 19. It's in verse 21. Listen to this: "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's counsel that will stand." That is a proverb that sums up the sovereignty of God. God does what He does and you might have a dysfunctional family but you have a functional God who does what He wants in the midst of a dysfunctional family. You're gonna be blessed, God said it, it's happening even though I tried to prevent it. That's the idea behind it.
Verse 34: "When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me--me also, O my father!" Now here's manly Esau, man of the field, wailing and crying like a baby. No! No! I want the blessing! "But he said, "Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing." And Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob?" Be careful now, Esau, because the blessing was whoever curses Jacob is gonna be cursed. "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted [or tripped] me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!"
And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" Was Esau correct? Was he right about Jacob? Yes and no. He was right that his, his brother was a cheat, a manipulator, a deceiver. But it's not like he stole the birthright, right? There was a deal. He goes, tell you what, I'll make you that red chile stew but I want the birthright. Who cares about my birthright? You can have it! I don't want it! He despised it and the deal was made. Now he's saying, it was all a trick. Here's the bottom line. Esau never cared about spiritual things--never did. He was a natural man. The New Testament, 1 Corinthians, will call him the natural man. The natural man, it says, does not understand things of the Spirit. They are spiritually discerned. A natural man, the Greek word, pseukikos, means one governed by the flesh, one governed by the appetites of the flesh, the body. Dominated by the flesh. Doesn't really care about spiritual things but cares a lot about the flesh, physical things. He was a natural man. Nothing wrong with food, nothing wrong with your hungry, but he despised his birthright, he despised spiritual things. That's the average worldly person--they despise spiritual things.
Jacob appreciated spiritual things. But he's going about getting them the wrong way. We would call him a carnal believer. Not a spiritual man, not a natural man, but a carnal man. He's going to use fleshly means to arrive at his spiritual end and hence, the battle. "Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Indeed I have made him your master". Imagine how he felt as he heard that Isaac felt. "And all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?" And Esau said to his father, "Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me--me also, O my father!" And Esau lifted up his voice and wept." He wept. It was sincere weeping but he's still governed by the flesh and he'll lapse right back into that very, very shortly. Esau would've lifted by the motto, eat, drink, for tomorrow we die. Have fun now, get all you can do, everybody's doing it, life's all about the now, all about you, you know, make your own way. That was his whole philosophy. He was completely a hedonistic but he wanted also the double portion of his father's goods, the blessing that would come along with that.
"Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold," verse 39, "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above." That is, you're gonna live out in the open spaces. You're gonna live out in the desert, the deserted spaces. "Of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live," you're gonna have to fight for everything you get, "And you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck." The children of Israel, the Jews, will come from Jacob. From Esau will arise the descendants known as the Edomites. The Edomites will settle to the east, southeast of the Dead Sea, out in modern day Jordan. The history of the people of the Moabites is very interesting. Over time there was this consistent battle between Israel and this people.
For instance, in 1 Samuel chapter 14 King Saul subjugated them. A few chapters later he made them a vassal state. They rebelled against King Solomon later on, but to no avail. He put a tighter squeeze on them and exacted taxes from them. As time went on they successfully rebelled against King Joram but under King Amaziah they were once again subjugated. So back and forth, always under the thumb of the children of Israel, these descendants of Esau. But notice what it says: "It shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck." The descendants of Esau, in that area, southeast of the Dead Sea, after several years, the Nabateans, just keep that name in mind, we'll refer to them later on, the Nabateans, in fact the whole book of Obadiah is about the Nabateans in this area in Edom. They pushed out these Edomites, they pushed them out of the land, and so the Edomites settled in Judah, once again under Jewish rule. While they lived in Judah they were forced to convert to Judaism, forced to keep Jewish Law by a Maccabean ruler named John Hercanes, forced them to live like Jewish people even though they still had the lineage of Esau. Still under the thumb of the Jewish people, until one guy by the name of Antipater, his full name Herod Antipater, got favor with Rome and territory was given to him to rule over and it was his son called Herod the Great who was called the King of the Jews by the Roman government.
So it was Herod the Great that killed all the babies in Bethlehem trying to kill Christ who is now in rulership in New Testament times. At one time subjugated by the Jews but now risen to authority and rulership and is in charge and that's the idea, I think, at the end of that verse. That is the prediction and it came to pass. By the way, please be careful how you interpret Scripture. I take it very literally. Sometimes there's obvious figurative applications to it and yet a literal lesson is drawn from the figure, but whenever you read a prophecy and it literally is fulfilled, it then doesn't make any sense, years later, to say, well I don't believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. I really can't take it word-for-word. I go, why? You have plenty of precedent to do that. I'll get off that soapbox, our time is about out.
Verse 41, look at this: "So Esau hated Jacob". You don't have to turn to it, but listen to this. Malachi chapter 1, you know what it says? The Lord says, Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated. And God doesn't even explain Himself as to, you know, why He does that. Now that bothers a lot of people that God would say Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated. That bothers them! And you know what? It bothers me. It doesn't bother me because He hated Esau, it bothers me because He loved Jacob, knowing he was such a cheat and a conniver and yet He would make that declaration and He did so according to Scripture before they were born. He made that declaration and preferred one over the other--that was God's sovereign choice in predestination. But here it says, "Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob." And the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said to him, "Surely your brother Esau comforts himself concerning you by intending to kill you. Now therefore, my son," sonny, 77 year old sonny boy, come here sonny, listen to me, "obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban," oh yeah he's really a winner, "in Haran. And stay with him a few days, until your brother's fury turns away, until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him; and I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereaved also of you both in one day?" Go away for a few days.
You know what a few days turned into? Two decades--20 years. And she will die without ever seeing her son again. This is called your plan backfiring. Your fleshly energy backfiring. Your not wanting to wait on God backfiring. Your carnal nature backfiring. And I can only think that the last years of her life were miserable, lonely years as she was thinking about all the paces she put her family and her sons through. Twenty years and when he comes back, his mom will be long gone. Sad. Mothers, I know you love your children. Be careful about the battles you fight. And I know you'd like to just make it all better for them and so what do you do when there's this problem in the family? You want to fix it. Fight the battle on your knees not with your hands or your mouth. Fight it on your knees. Pray for them. That's where the battles are won.
"And Rebekah said to Isaac," look at this closing comment, "I am weary of my life," I would be, too. "Because of the daughters of Heth," now her son Esau married a couple of Canaanite pagan girls, drove her nuts, thought they were a bad influence. "If Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these who are the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?" Yeah, she thought, you know, these people around here have such poor values. I need to get them around my family. Such wonderful values. Honest. Salt of the earth kind of people--like me and my brother, Laban. Jacob does not even know what he's in for.
This guy Laban has mastered deceit better than anybody. He's like a Ph.D. in it. This guy here's a neophyte. He's about to go to school for twenty years. And what happens with Jacob and the deceit backfires against him. He deceived his dad, he will be deceived. Jacob will be deceived by Laban. He'll have to work 14 years for his wife, the one he loved, because Laban will deceive him. Number two, his own sons will deceive Jacob in selling Joseph to the Midianites as they go down to Egypt and then lie and say, oh, he got killed by an animal, here's his blood and his hippie coat that you gave him. You will reap what you sow. Jacob will reap what he's sown. This woman will reap what she has sown. You've heard the old saying, like father, like son. It's also true like mother, like son, or daughter. The influence of a parent in example through a life will mark a child's destiny for years to come.