This is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A podcast re-telling the story of the patriarchs of Scripture, which, practically speaking, helps us to get to know the one true God, Yahweh, for who He is, free from the preconceived notions and desires of the world.
We’ve already seen amazing things about this God. He is Sovereign, that is, He is in charge. He is Faithful, over and above our unfaithfulness. He is Holy. He is unpredictable. He will do things that we, with our human ideas of what God should be like, think God would never do. Because, we’ve discovered that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob does not think as we do. His timing, we’ve seen this all throughout Abraham and Isaac’s story is nothing like ours. Nothing like ours! Can there be any doubt of this, after all we have seen? But one thing is indisputable: He is trustworthy. His timing, His plan are better than ours. He is perfect.
Are you ready for more?
Here we go.
In the last episode, we went almost through all of Isaac’s life, which is a surprisingly short account in the Genesis narrative. Isaac’s account turns into Jacob’s very quickly. But today there is one last significant episode that we want to spend some time unpacking.
In Genesis 27 we read of Isaac’s blessing over Jacob.
It is a very twisted and sort of sad story. Here’s what happened. Isaac is in his last days, he is blind and he called on Esau, the older son to hunt for game and prepare for him some food that he may bless him before he dies.
Now Rebekah was listening and heard what Isaac had said to Esau. So, Rebekah tells Jacob to bring her some goats from the flock and she will prepare some food, just like Isaac likes it, that Jacob may bring it to Isaac, so that the blessing may fall upon Jacob, instead of Esau.
Now Jacob objects to it, not because of the deception really, but because he believes he’ll get caught. “Behold my brother Esau is a hairy man,” he tells his mother in verse 11, “and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.”
We should note, here as you measure your words before this Yahweh God, that blessings and curses are real things. I know most people take them as a joke or some sort of superstition. But this is not so, do not be fooled. Especially if you are a Christian, understand that the Scriptures call us to speak the truth. Let your yes be yes and your no be no, said Jesus in Matthew 5:37. Our Father in Heaven hears us, and so we should be circumspective about our words—our promises to God, and things like blessings.
This is a very profound truth and we do not have the time to get into it here but note that we walk by the Spirit, and should invoke these according to the will of God. Which brings us back to the story here.
Because recall that the pronouncement of God had been made since the baby’s births. The older shall serve the younger. Remember also that Esau had already sold his birthright (this very blessing, if you will) for a plate of stew—that’s how little he thought of it. This is the reason why the writer of the book of Hebrews cautions us not to be like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. That’s on Hebrews 12:16.
So, what is about to transpire, is happening under a mountain of context.
Back to the story, Rebekah tells Jacob, “Let your curse be on me, my son,” and pleads with him to obey her. So he does.
The scheme is elaborate, she prepares the food, dress him in his brother’s garments, and even took the skin of the goats and puts it on his hands and the smooth part of his neck so that if Isaac touched him, he would feel the hairs, like that of Esau’s instead of Jacob. Very mischievous.
Does this not sound like Abraham and Sarah trying to help God keep his promise? We are not told why Rebekah is doing this, but we can sort of see that she might have held on to that promise from her birth, and favoring Jacob, decides she needs to take action to make sure he is the one leading the family going forward. As we have already learned, God does not need our help to keep his promises, despite why we might think, and there are always painful consequences for our unbelief.
But Jacob takes the food to Isaac then, who is a bit suspicious that he was able to hunt for game so fast. But Jacob says, “Because the Lord has granted me success.”
An incredibly foolish thing to say, really. But this is what happens, and everyone listening knows this. You start lying and the lies will have to continue. Lying will burry you because it is never-ending. So Jacob will have consequences for what is about to happen. You might have felt sympathy for him at first because he is being forced by his mother to do this, but you can see how he is complicit, even now to the point of invoking the Lord’s name into the mix. Not good.
So Isaac indeed reaches out to touch him, and he does feel hairy like Esau. Rebekah’s plan with the goat skin is working. Isaac notices the voice is more like Jacobs too. So he asks him point-blank, “are you my son Esau?” “I am,” says Jacob.
So, Isaac eats, later smell Esau’s garments and is ready then to bless him.
Starting on verse 27:
“See, the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
I hope you hear there then what had been prophesied from the beginning. Jacob would be Lord over his brother.
As soon as Jacob had left, Esau came in with his catch, and the scheme is exposed. Isaac word’s are important, he asks, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” He shall be blessed, he says. He cannot take it back.
Esau is distraught, understandably, it says “he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!”
They, of course, realize it was Jacob. The account tells us then that Esau hated Jacob. Interestingly, he says Jacob had cheated him twice. But that is not quite true, is it? The first time, he willingly gave up his birthright, not anticipating the real-world consequences of undervaluing his position as the oldest.
“Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father,” he says.
So here receives something:
“Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
There is hope there. He shall break his yoke from his neck, one day. But he will serve his brother, whom he now hates. He hates him so much that he in fact says, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Now, when Rebekah hears this she urges Jacob to flee to her brother Laban’s place in Haran, “until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him.”
Here are the consequences of taking matters into your own hands and trying to manipulate God’s will for your life and that of yours. God has given you a promise regarding your children? It is not up to you to bring those about. It is up to you to trust God.
For this will be a real loss to Rebekah. Her son will leave and not return until he is married with kids. It will actually be 21 years before these brothers reunite.
We will continue the story, but it is worth pointing out now the consequences of our unbelief. Jacob will lose his mother and father and brother, for the foreseeable future. He will carry this burden as he continues his journey.
Interestingly, we are not told in the Scriptures precisely when Rebekah dies. We are only told in Genesis 49:30 that her remains were eventually buried at the Cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, along with Abraham and his wife Sarah.
So, it is possible, perhaps even likely that Jacob never saw her mother again. And, if he did, as we mentioned, is going to be a long time where Jacob is going to go and get married and have children, and all that will be a hard consequence of their choice to deceive Isaac.
We’ll get into the story of Jacob more in detail next time, but for now let us notice that God’s plans, the plans of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob cannot be derailed. Even when we act contrary to His principles, he will redeem our actions, and they too will work to bring about his purposes for your life.
How patient is this God, who puts up with all our tomfoolery and lovingly waits for our understanding!
As with Abraham, Jacob’s life will be redeemed, he is not cast off because of his mistakes. God will fulfill the promise of Abraham, through him, and He will learn to trust in the God of his father and grandfather.
Therefore, we need not be distraught or disheartened because of the mistakes we’ve made in our lives. For we have studied the Scriptures and we know that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not a God of rancor, but a God of love, patience and understanding towards His people.
Now, He will teach us, no doubt about that. So we will feel the painful consequences of our actions, but He will see us through all of them, and teach us to trust in him more fully, until the fullness of time has pass, when His purposes will unravel in our lives completely.
Next time, the God of Jacob emerges, you won’t want to miss it.