Each week on Thursdays we highlight a trustworthy discipleship resource that can help you in your mission to make disciples. This week’s post is from Explore the Bible: Genesis – The Life of Jacob Fill out the form at the end of this post by Friday, September 7th at 11:59pm to enter for a chance to win this free resource!
What may cause a person to intentionally deceive others? How do you typically
respond after you discover that you were deceived?
You view a social-media post that promises a free getaway, noticing that it came from a friend. You click on the image only to discover that the free getaway has some catches. You’re required to use a specific airline and a specific booking agency. You also discover additional fees for the “free” trip. You then discover that if you share this post with other people, some fees will be waived. Suddenly you’re not nearly as interested in the trip.
Understand the Context
Abraham died when he was 175 years old, leaving behind two sons, Ishmael and Isaac (see Gen. 25:7-9). Because Ishmael wasn’t the promised son (see 17:18-19), Isaac received God’s blessings (see 25:11), including the covenant God had made with Abraham (see 12:1-3; 26:1-5). Isaac married Rebekah (see 25:20), and they had twin boys, Esau and Jacob (see 25:24-26). Born only seconds before Jacob, Esau was the oldest and, as a result, first in line for his father’s patriarchal blessing. But God selected Jacob instead to be the patriarch (see 25:23). Although the word patriarch doesn’t appear in the Old Testament, the New Testament uses this descriptive title to refer to Abraham (see Heb. 7:4), the sons of Jacob (see Acts 7:8-9), and David (see Acts 2:29).
Isaac’s family was divided by marked favoritism. Isaac favored Esau because, like him, Esau was an outdoorsman, while Rebekah favored Jacob (see Gen. 25:27-28), creating conflict and competition between the two sons. One day when Esau came home exhausted and hungry from hunting, Jacob offered his brother a meal, only after Esau promised him the older brother’s birthright (see vv. 29-34). As Genesis 27 opens, Isaac was old and nearly blind (see vv. 1-2). Before giving Esau the patriarchal blessing, Isaac asked him to hunt some wild game for a meal. Rebekah, who was secretly listening, quickly devised a deceptive plan whereby she cooked a similar meal, dressed Jacob to resemble Esau, and had him steal his brother’s blessing (see vv. 3-17). Although the plan was his mother’s, Jacob eagerly went along. Because he was ambitious, his only concern was that he might be caught (see vv. 11-12). But when his mother agreed to take his father’s wrath (see v. 13), he concluded that the reward outweighed the risk.
Explore the Text
Isaac was old, no less than one hundred (see 25:26; 26:34), and believed he was approaching death (see 27:1-2). In Old Testament times a father’s blessing was more than an expression of love. The blessing of the father, as the patriarch of the family, was an official, binding transfer of the patriarchal line, along with a prayer for prosperity and superiority. Isaac’s blessing also meant the recipient and his descendants would be heirs of the covenant God had originally
made with Abraham (see 12:1-3) and extended through Isaac (see 26:1-5).
When Jacob came to his father, posing as Esau, Isaac sensed something was wrong. After lying about his identity, the meal, God’s help, and his appearance, Jacob deceived his father.
When dealing with people who don’t always act with integrity and transparency,
what can believers gain by setting an example?
The kiss was a formal part of giving and receiving a blessing. Here it marked the end of the ceremonial meal (also a formal part of the blessing) and the beginning of the spoken blessing. Isaac’s doubts about his son’s identity had been removed. How was Isaac so easily deceived?
His preferential love for the older son led to his deception. He heard (see 27:24), tasted (see v. 25), touched (see v. 26), and smelled (see v. 27) what he was looking for—Esau. Because of his unrelenting favoritism, he believed because he wanted to believe.
What are some ways favoritism is manifested in the church? What are some consequences that result from favoritism? How can we prevent it?
Through an act of deception, the blessing went to Jacob. Although Jacob took what God had promised him (see 25:23), this deception wasn’t God’s doing. We can’t justify using deceptive means to obtain worthy ends.
In spite of Jacob’s deplorable actions, God was faithful to His promise. God’s promises are immutable, that is, unchangeable, based on His divine wisdom. They don’t rely on our actions but on His absolute faithfulness. Although Jacob’s life journey could have been more enjoyable if he had waited on the Lord, God delivered on His promise, as He always does. Because Jacob did things his own way, God sent him to the school of hard knocks. Along the way God broke
Jacob’s selfishness and transformed him into a man He could bless.
What are some occasions in Scripture when God accomplished His purposes despite a person’s sinful conduct? What can we learn about God from those examples?
Apply the Text
❯ Believers are to act with integrity and transparency when dealing with others.
❯ Believers must guard against favoritism, knowing it leads to personal deception.
❯ God can bring to pass His sovereign purpose despite the selfish actions of a sinful person.
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