I was thinking about Jacob this morning and how much he was like his mother’s side of the family. He tricked Esau into giving up his birthright. His uncle Laban later tricked him into marrying Leah when he wanted to marry her sister Rachel. Rachel stole her father’s idols and pretended that she couldn’t get up to greet him because she was sitting on them. Rebekah encouraged Jacob to deceive his father. This was a family who used deception and whatever means at their disposal to get what they wanted. One commentator mentioned that Isaac was also scheming. He was going to bless Esau despite the fact that God did not choose Esau. And Esau had despised his birthright, selling it to Jacob for lentil stew. He married pagan wives, grieving his parents.
Isaac was old and his eyesight was very poor. He knew that it was only a matter of time before he died so he wanted to give his blessing to Esau, his firstborn and favorite son. He asked Esau to go out and hunt some game for him and then prepare an appetizing meal that he would enjoy eating. Rebekah overheard this exchange and she began to devise a plan of her own. This reminds me of Sarah’s carnal plan to have a child instead of waiting on God to fulfill His plan.
After Esau left, Rebekah set her plan into motion. She called Jacob and told him what she overheard. Then she commanded him, “Go now to the flock, and from it bring me two good and suitable kids; and I will make them into appetizing meat for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat and declare his blessing upon you before his death.”
At first, Jacob is hesitant to go along with his mother’s plan but not because he didn’t like the idea of deceiving his father. He didn’t refuse saying, “How could I do such a thing to my father?” He was more worried about what would happen if it didn’t work. He said to his mother, “Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” Rebekah convinces him that the plan will work. He takes the food she prepares to his father.
Jacob went to his father and when Isaac asked who it was, he lied and said, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done what you told me to do. Now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may proceed to bless me.” He was passing himself off as his brother and offering his father food which he did not prepare himself. When his father asked him how he was able to prepare the meal so quickly, Jacob claimed, “Because the Lord your God caused it to come to me.” Jacob, the same person who was afraid that he would receive a curse rather than a blessing if he went through with the deception was now making God a participant. He was inviting God’s displeasure.
Isaac was suspicious because he asked Jacob to go closer to him so that he could make sure that it was Esau he was talking to. He felt Jacob’s arms and he believed that they were the hands are the hands of Esau even though the voice sounded like Jacob’s.”
The doubts lingered because he asked, “Are you really my son Esau? Jacob had the opportunity to come clean but he didn’t. He lied again and told his father that he was Esau. So, Isaac believing that it was Esau he was talking to, told him to bring the game for him to eat it and bless him. After Isaac ate the food and drank the wine, he asked Jacob to come near him so that he could kiss him. He smelled the clothes Jacob was wearing–they belonged to Esau and convinced now that it was Esau, Isaac blessed him.
As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob and Jacob was scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. When Esau came in, he brought with him the savory food he himself had prepared. He hunted for the game. It wasn’t taken from the lifestock his father had nor was it prepared by someone else. He did everything. It seemed as if the blessing meant a lot to him–more than his birthright which he foolishly sold to his brother for a bowl of lentil stew. However, this time he lost his blessing to Jacob over another meal.
When Isaac found out that he had been tricked, he was badly shaken up. He told Esau, “Your brother came with crafty cunning and treacherous deceit and has taken your blessing.” Esau was reminded of Jacob’s past betrayal. “Is he not rightly named Jacob [the supplanter]? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing!” He wept when his father told him that he had made Jacob his lord and master and given all his brethren to him for servants.
Esau begged his father to bless him. And Isaac said to him, “Your [blessing and] dwelling shall all come from the fruitfulness of the earth and from the dew of the heavens above; By your sword you shall live and serve your brother. But [the time shall come] when you will grow restive and break loose, and you shall tear his yoke from off your neck.” Esau was filled with hatred toward Jacob and swore to kill him after his father died and he finished mourning for him. Rebekah learned about this and made arrangements to get Jacob away from there fast. She couldn’t risk losing both sons. She sent her younger son to live with her family. She never saw him again. This was a steep price to pay for trying to manipulate a situation instead of leaving it in God’s hands.
Why did she encourage Jacob to deceive his father? Well, no doubt it had to do what the Lord told her when she was pregnant with twins who were struggling together in her womb. She wondered about this and sought the Lord for answers. He told her, “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” When she heard that Esau was going to be blessed, she decided to take matters into her own hands instead of trusting God. She decided that she would take Esau’s blessing for Jacob. She got what she wanted but at a cost.
The moral of this story is that favoritism causes problems. Esau was Isaac’s favorite which is why he insisted on blessing him despite what the Lord had said. And the fact that he was blessing Esau in secret proves that he knew that what he was doing was wrong. No one would have known about it if Rebekah hadn’t overheard Isaac’s conversation with Esau. Rebekah resorted to treachery so that her favorite son would have the blessing. As a result, Jacob had to be sent away in order to spare his life. Favoritism causes strife. Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph nearly cost Joseph his life. Rachel never saw her son again. She died believing that he was dead. For many years, Jacob believed that his beloved son was dead. Neither Isaac nor Rebekah should have gone to such lengths to secure the blessing for their favorite son. They should have left this to God. He is the One who blesses whom He chooses. Since He did not choose Esau, Isaac blessing him would have been of no effect. Jacob would have received the blessing but not through deception.
God is a God of order not confusion. We must never take matters into our own hands. We ought to let go and let God. Let God work out His plan in your life in His way and in His time. Isaac learned that he couldn’t succeed in thwarting God’s plan. Hebrews 11:20 said, By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. It was Isaac’s intention to bless Esau but according to the way things turned out, Jacob was put before Esau, as heir of the chief, namely, the spiritual blessing. Ironically Isaac blessed in the flesh–he blessed whom he wanted to bless but ended up blessing the one whom God meant to be blessed. He realized that God’s will had been done despite his efforts to do the contrary because he testified of Jacob, “I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed.” Indeed, Jacob was blessed with the birthright. Jacob became Israel and was a stronger nation. And Esau, the older was meant to serve the younger. So, despite human interference and trickery, God’s plans for the twins came to pass just as He foretold while they were still in their mother’s womb. God had chosen Jacob not Esau as explained in Malachi 1:2-3. God chose Jacob to become the heir of the covenant of Abraham instead of Esau. I personally think that Jacob showed more interest in the birthright than Esau. He saw that it was important and went to great lengths to obtain it while Esau frivolously gave it away.
The author of Hebrews warns Christians not to become like Esau. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:14-17).
We have a birthright–an inheritance as co-heirs with Christ. Let us not give it away or treat it with contempt the way Esau did with his. We are encouraged to exercise holy self-control, if we don’t wish to forfeit our spiritual rights like Esau did. Don’t let the flesh control you but always strive to walk in the Spirit.