Lessons From Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob

(Biblical text in italics throughout)

As we continue digging into selected passages in Genesis,
please ask the Holy Spirit to show you ways that you are like
Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and/or Jacob in the events below…

While much of the technology & externals around humans
have changed since Genesis,
the internal heart issues of sin & selfishness have not.

We are just as sin-stained as they were,
we need the same glorious Savior, Jesus Christ, that they needed…

Genesis 27:“When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak
that he could no longer see, 
he called for Esau his older son
and said to him, “My son.”

“Here I am,” he answered.

Isaac said,“I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death.
3Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—
and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me.
4Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat,
so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

I love what Charles Spurgeon wisely pointed out:
Isaac didn’t obey God’s revelation that the older
would serve the younger (Genesis 25:23).

Isaac tried to give Esau the blessing of the firstborn—
what Isaac wanted—even though God revealed
that it would go to Jacob—what God wanted.

And Isaac did this sneakily: normally a patriarch would call in
the entire family as he gave the blessing;
it was a time of celebration to prepare for sadness
(the father soon dying).

But Isaac called in Esau secretly without his wife & other son.
She’d follow his example with a sneakiness of her own.

Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau.
When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back,
Rebekah said to her son Jacob,
“Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau,
‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat,
so that I may give you my blessing
in the presence of the Lord
before I die.’”

Rebekah remembered that Isaac said the blessing
would be given ‘in the presence of the Lord,’
but she didn’t think of the importance/seriousness of this.

She’s about to tell her son Jacob to trick his father,
to steal the blessing, to willfully sin ‘in the Lord’s presence.’
She isnt concerned about this—there’s no hesitancy
to steal a wallet in the Judge’s courtroom!

Oh that God would help us realize the awesome Truth 
that everything we Christians do is ‘in His presence,’
and not just in His presence, but with Him living in us!

We’d sin less if we learned to reverence the LORD,
to stand in awe of Him, to Biblically fear Him (not terror).

God is both accessible & awesome;
so we need His help to avoid becoming
disrespectfully casual in His presence or
terrified so we don’t come near/dont know Him closely.

It’s a glorious both/and:

Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace
with confidence, 
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 12:28-29: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful,
and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 
29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Psalm 5:7:“But I, by your great love, can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.”

Psalm 130:3-4:“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends,
as you have always obeyed—
not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—
continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act
in order to fulfill his good purpose.

2 Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore, since we have these promises,
dear friends, let us purify ourselves
from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

And many Christians today either have light but no heat—
an icy/joyless obedience because they aren’t close with the LORD,
aren’t delighting in His joy & presence,

or Christians with heat but no light—
passion/ energy/enthusiasm
but little fruitful obedience because of a lack of reverence,
a flippant casualness with God that leads to
little concern over personal sin & holiness.

May our Father help us have both heat and light!

Back to Genesis 27:

Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you:
Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats,
so I can prepare some tasty food for your father,
just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat,
so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

Oh the danger of parents having favorites. 
Not surprisingly, Jacob too had favorite children
when he became a father, also leading to devastating results.

11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother,
“But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin.
12What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him
and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

Not concerned that he IS tricking his father,
just worries that he APPEARS to trick him.

Not concerned with sinning against the LORD,
just that he doesn’t get caught.

Focused on external appearance not internal character/heart.

13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me.
Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

Rebekah realizes there will be consequences for her sin, 
but in her mind the positives of her sin—Jacob getting the blessing–
outweigh the negatives of her sin—a curse falling on Rebekah.

Pragmatism at its worst, a spiritual version of
“It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

But both would suffer; we can’t fall on sin’s grenade &
absorb the blast ourselves. Others always get hurt.
Only Christ Jesus can fully absorb our sin.

14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother,
and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it.
15Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son,
which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob.
16She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck
with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob
the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”

“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn.
I have done as you told me.
Please sit up and eat some of my game,
so that you may give me your blessing.”

20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.

Quite possibly the worst aspect of Jacob’s sin: 
saying that God blessed him to do it.
Invoking the Lord may have comforted Isaac—
surely no one would trick him in God’s presence. Wow.

Don’t we do this?—use God to justify our sin/selfishness?

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son,
to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said,
“The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy
like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him.
24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

“I am,” he replied.

25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat,
so that I may give you my blessing.”

Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank.

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”

27 So he went to him and kissed him.
When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

 “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.”

30 After Isaac finished blessing him,
and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence,
his brother Esau came in from hunting.
31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father.
Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game,
so that you may give me your blessing.”

32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Isaac trembled violently and said,
“Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me?
I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—
and indeed he will be blessed!”

34When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with
a loud and bitter cry and said to his father,
“Bless me—me too, my father!”

No weeping over previously selling and despising his birthright,
no remorse over sin, just sorry/sad over the consequences.
Upset he got caught, not at what he did.

Esau didnt want the responsibility of the birthright 
but he sure wanted the blessing.

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob?
This is the second time he has taken advantage of me:
He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!”
Then he asked,“Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

No personal responsibility; 
Esau said Jacob took his blessing, not that Esau sold it.

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you
and have made all his relatives his servants,
and I have sustained him with grain and new wine.
So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father?
Bless me too, my father!”

Then Esau wept aloud.

Focused on what he lost, not what he gave away, 
on what he won’t get from his father,
not on what he did to God (despising the birthright, Gen. 25:34).

39 His father Isaac answered him,

“Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob
because of the blessing his father had given him.
He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near;
then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said,
she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him,
“Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you.
43 Now then, my son, do what I say:
Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran.
44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides.
45 When your brother is no longer angry with you
and forgets what you did to him,
I’ll send word for you to come back from there.
Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

No repentance, no dealing with their sin,
no going to the LORD for guidance/help, just running away.

My hope is that the Holy Spirit is showing us ways 
that we are like Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob,
showing us our awful (& often subtle) sin…
& then showing us His awesome grace,
how awesome the Lord Jesus is to have died & rose again
to pay for such sins!

Receive His grace by repentance & faith! Oh the Gospel!!!

Closing Challenge

Powerful question to ask the LORD:

In what ways do I try to get Your blessing, or get what I want,
by going through the back door?

Jacob would have gotten the blessing anyway
since the LORD had chosen Jacob to be the one
through whom the twelve tribes of Israel,
and thus the future Messiah Jesus, would be born.

The LORD would have provided a righteous way
for Jacob to receive the blessing,
just as He provided a righteous way for Abraham & Sarah to have Isaac,
but Jacob tried to get it on his own
and had to face some difficult consequences:

  • separation from his family,
  • being deceived himself by his uncle Laban,
  • never seeing his mother again on earth,
  • and carrying on the unholy tradition
    of having favorite children of his own…

What an example Abraham & Sarah set for Isaac,
going through sin to get God’s promise, having a child through Hagar…
Oh the negative impact we can have on future generations
by doing life our own way…

…may we turn to Christ Jesus in repentance of our sins
and the certainty that He will both forgive us and cleanse us
from all unrighteousness–oh the Gospel!