What a Blessing!
Text: Genesis 27
Proposition: The power of the Blessing speaks prosperity, protection and Promise into a person’s future.
Introduction: Have you ever read a story where there are no heroes, where there are no distinct good guys and distinct bad guys. You know, the kind of story where everybody is wearing a gray hat. Well that’s the kind of story we run into here this morning. We have gone chapter by chapter through Genesis and today we come face to face with a story that has so many sub plots and trickery that it’s hard to keep our eye on which container the pea is under. Who’s the good guy, who should we be feeling sorry for, who deserves to get what’s coming to them and what’s the main point of this historical account? What can we take away from here at the end of the day? Well it all revolves around two things, Birthright and Blessing. Here’s the catch, neither of these are at all important to us in our western culture. When it comes to family we rarely pay attention to who was born first. We don’t see them as the future head of our families, we would think it unfair if the estate of the parents favored them just because they were born first and it wouldn’t even cross our minds if we were the oldest to try to sell the significance of being the first born to the next sibling in line.
Let me introduce you to the characters in this story. There is Isaac, he’s the father figure and is quite old. His eye sight has gone and he thinks he is soon to die. Then there’s his wife, Rebekah, she is younger than Isaac and is quite assertive, she knows what she wants and can be very determined. Rebecca and Isaac have two sons, the first born or oldest is a named Esau. He’s a hot head, short sighted in terms of being able to know what is really important. When their family was broke and going through a hard time financially, Esau sold the right of being first born to his younger brother, Jacob. What that meant is that when the estate was settled the older would get twice as much as the other children since he was to lead the family. Esau figured that two times nothing is nothing so he sold his birthright to Jacob for the convenience of a bowl of hot lentil stew when he was really hungry one day. It says that Esau despised his birthright, but technically he was still the older. Lastly of course there is Jacob, the younger son but not by much because Esau and Jacob were fraternal twins. They were born within minutes of each other but they looked very different from each other in character and physical appearance. Now let’s hear the details of the story in Genesis 27.
I. Deceit and the Pursuit of the Birthright.
Though Isaac’s favorite was Esau he knew from before the children were born that the older was to serve the younger. He and Rebecca had prayed while the babies were still in her womb and God had revealed to them that she was carrying two children, two nations would come from them and the younger of the two is whom God desired to use. The older would serve the younger, Isaac knew that. Isaac knew that God chose Jacob to be the one whom He would use, he knew what God wanted, yet he liked Esau more. I suppose that’s the great folly of man, he actually believes that he can deceive God and still be able to direct God’s blessing. So, clearly Isaac is a guy in a grey hat. Then there’s Rebekah, she is the engineer of this deceit, you could almost call this elder abuse. She takes advantage of poor eye sight and failing taste buds and passes off smooth skinned Jacob and goat stew for more than what they really are. She deceives her husband, she deceives her oldest son. Rebekah didn’t see that this would incense Esau to the point of wanting to kill Jacob, she didn’t see that she would have to send Jacob away because of this deceit. Rebekah didn’t see that as a result of her deceit, the one thing that she really loved she would lose. She didn’t know, couldn’t have known, that when Jacob left to go to his uncles home it would be the last time she would ever see him. Deceit costs more than we ever thought. In a very similar way Jacob also was deceptive. He played along with his mothers plan, it looked like a winning idea but the deeper it went the greater the deception. At one point Isaac point blank asks Jacob, “Are you really my son Esau?” That’s the thing about deception, it starts out with subtle steps, half truths that lead another to trust you. But then it gets dirty, it brings you to the point of either confessing your sin or lying to their face. You get in so deep it seems there’s no way to go but to keep deceiving. It cost Jacob his brother, his mother and his father, it took him from being the son of a rich man to being a stranger in a strange land working for someone who was even more skilled at deception than he. Lastly there is Esau, the man who had sold his birthright to fill his stomach, the man who had married two Hittite women to flaunt his will, the man who was a skilled hunter but also a cold blooded killer. Esau’s hat seems to be a darker shade of gray than Jacob’s. His deceit was to pretend to tolerate his younger brother but inside he felt outwitted by Jacob. Like a Shakespearian tragedy, the subplot of which is the cost of deceit, we are left asking ourselves, “What is it that they all sought so desperately to gain, what really is the center point of this story?”
II. The Blessing, Our Longing For All It Entails.
At the center of this story, the one thing that Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob were all intent on, is the blessing of the father. Simple words spoken from a father to their children, yet when you see the extent to which these people went to procure it they suddenly don’t seem like just simple words, do they? When you see Esau pleading for Isaac to somehow find another blessing for him it’s as if his very future hung in the balance. Perhaps that’s not so far from the truth since the blessing pictured exactly that. If we were to distill it down the blessing has three aspects to it: Provision, Protection, Providence. Mentioned over 600 times in the Old Testament alone, blessing in a ceremonial sense was done in family, government and religion. In the New Testament blessing is what we have received in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” So what exactly does Provision, Protection and Providence refer to?
1. Provision. It pictured a future where there would be food, friends and family. The word we usually call this is prosperity, but that has now come to be only associated with money and property. Real prosperity is the abundance that fills your needs. When the blessing pictured a future of good provision it opened the door for the one being blessed to see that it was actually there in front of them. The blessing equipped them to move forward with hope and thanksgiving.
2. Protection. It pictured a future where they would be secure, where they would succeed in their relationships with others. Isaac said, “Let peoples serve you and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren and let your mothers sons bow down to you.” It was a conferring of birthright and blessing, the ability, responsibility and accountability to lead. It pictured a future where the confidence to step forward would be there. In that future there was protection that said, “Cursed be everyone who curses you and blessed be everyone who blesses you.”
3. Providence. This pictured a future of a life lived in faith that was able to realize that all Provision and Protection came only from the hand of God. Life itself was entrusted to them, their calling was to see that as the truth of what is and not be seduced into believing it was luck, fate or self effort. The blessing pictured God by their side, God in front of them and God behind them. The biblical term is that God had a hedge of protection about them and for this they glorify Him continually.
That was what consumed Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob. This blessing is what was given to Jacob, it pictured before him the future that God would use to create a nation called Israel from him. It pictured the greatest blessing that would arise out of Israel, the Son of God incarnated into humanity, born of the tribe of Judah to bring eternal blessing to all mankind that would take refuge in His sacrifice for them. It’s what the phrase, “In you all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”
Is Blessing something for today? Is there a place where fathers and mothers would sit with their children, put their hands upon them and picture a future of Provision, Protection and Providence for them? Perhaps we withhold affection, even blessing, in the belief that it somehow makes them tougher. It doesn’t, it just makes them hungrier. If you think this is just something for the kids, think again. Jacob and Esau were more than 40 years old when all this took place. In 1Peter 3:8,9 he writes, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” Know the power of a Blessing, especially in Christ. Employ it.