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Scripture reading – Genesis 27-28
When we concluded our study of Genesis 26, we found Isaac, his wife Rebekah, and his family living in Gerar, a Philistine area of Canaan, that he named Beersheba (26:32-33). Knowing he was 60 years old when Rebekah conceived twin sons, we can assume Isaac was one hundred years old in Genesis 27, and his sons were forty. Furthermore, Esau, the older son, had committed bigamy by taking two Hittite women to be his wives (26:34). Those heathen wives were from a lineage of idolaters and “were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah” (26:35).
Genesis 27 – “Esau the Carnal, and Jacob the Conniver”
Time marches on for all, and Genesis 27 opens with a sad statement: “Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see” (27:1a). Nearly blind, perhaps due to cataracts from the effect of the desert sun and sand, he had determined it was time to put his household in order and prepare for his death. Calling for his oldest son, Esau came to his father and said, “Behold, here am I” (27:1b).
Isaac encouraged Esau to take his bow and go out “to the field, and take some venison” (27:3). He stated his purpose was to eat, then bless Esau before he died (27:4). Now, the father’s blessing in ancient times carried a far more significant meaning than it does today. The blessing was essentially a statement of the father’s “Will,” the passing of the torch of leadership, and dispensing his possessions.
Rebekah had overheard Isaac’s instructions to Esau. She realized her husband’s plans were contrary to God’s will (25:23). Rather than trust the LORD to providentially work and fulfill His promise that Jacob, the second-born son, was his chosen heir (25:23), Rebekah determined to deceive her husband that she might assure it would happen (27:6-10). She readied Jacob to masquerade as his brother Esau (27:11-17) and prepared a meal for him to present to his father. Although Isaac had doubts, he blessed Jacob, not Esau, the eldest son (27:18-29).
Isaac physically trembled when Esau returned from the hunt and came before him for his blessing (27:30-32). When Esau realized his father had been deceived (27:33), he was overcome with grief and bewailed, losing his father’s blessing (27:34).
The consequences of Jacob’s scheming infuriated Esau, for his brother had not only taken his birthright (i.e., the spiritual priesthood, though Esau had sold it for a bowl of soup, 25:33-34) but now his inheritance. Learning of Esau’s threat to kill Jacob (27:41), his mother appealed to Isaac and requested that Jacob be sent away to her family in Haran for his safety and to find a wife among her people (27:42-46).
Genesis 28 – On the Run, and Alone: When God Speaks—Listen!
Knowing the blessing he had bestowed upon Jacob was irrevocable, Isaac confirmed God’s covenant blessing on his youngest son and commanded him: “Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother” (28:2).
Jacob’s flight from Beersheba to Bethel, where he stopped for rest, was a distance of some forty miles (28:10). Physically and emotionally exhausted, Jacob went to sleep. The LORD then came to him in a vision of a ladder that reached from heaven to earth, and he beheld upon the ladder “the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (28:11-12). There, the LORD confirmed to Jacob that God had chosen him, and the promises of the Abrahamic covenant would pass through him to his heirs (28:13-14).
With the promise, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (28:15), Jacob awoke, and understood that as God had been with Abraham, and his father Isaac, he would be with him (28:16).
Fearing God and revering where the LORD had appeared to him, Jacob dedicated the place, calling it Bethel, “the house of God” (28:17-19). Jacob then dedicated himself to the LORD (28:20-21), promising. “I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (the “tenth” being a tithe, 28:22).
Closing thoughts – The next chapters in our study of Genesis will follow God’s sovereign work of grace in Jacob’s life. We will see God providentially transform Jacob, the deceiver, into Israel and one who has “power with God.”
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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