Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 8: Jacob and Esau – 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, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your weapons—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare 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.” Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made. He went to his father and said, “My father.” “Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?” 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.” Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The LORD your God gave me success,” he replied. 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.” 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.”He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him. “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked. “I am,” he replied. 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. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.” 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. May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness— an abundance of grain and new wine. After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.” His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” “I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.” 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!” When 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!” But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.” 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?” His father Isaac answered him, “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 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.” (NIV)

The promise had been made, “the older shall serve the younger.” All Jacob needed was patience for God’s perfect timing to play out. Of course, he couldn’t wait. Things had to be done according to his schedule, according to his timetable. He had to force the agenda - the older shall serve the younger. The oldest was supposed to get Isaac’s birthright, or the promised land of Israel. Jacob, who was the younger, was prophesied to have the inheritance. God had revealed to Rebekah the destiny of her two children before they were born. However, Isaac believed his oldest Esau would get it. One day, Jacob, with the help of his mother Rebekah, tricked Isaac with his blindness into thinking he was Esau and Jacob got the birthright. Rather than trusting, that the Lord would fulfill His promise in His own way and according to His perfect timing Jacob with the help of his mother Rebekah took matters into their own hands.

That's the kind of person Jacob was. He was clever and crafty. Thanks to that "R" Chromosome, which he inherited from Rebekah, Jacob could manipulate anyone, get anything he wanted. He cleverly outwitted his brother--twice. He eventually conquered Laban, getting rich at his expense. Genesis 31:1 tells us, "Laban's sons began to say, "Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father."

A Chinese church leader, who was visiting churches in the United States, was asked what was his most striking impression regarding the church in the United States. He responded, "What impresses me most is how much American Christians have been able to accomplish without God!" We have been raised in our Western culture to become quite self-sufficient -as if we might somehow "pull it off" without God! Our children are sometimes quite clever. If they broke something, they could get it fixed before mom and dad came home and found out--at least most of the time! Some of our deepest "impressions" come from the times when we couldn't cover it up. Usually, we’re pretty good at fixing things or at manipulating other people to get what we want.

Do the “ends” justify the means? Jacob’s story might suggest so. But at what cost? Jacob suffered many unintended consequences due to his rash actions. He experienced periods of loneliness, issues of mistrust, and having to constantly look over his shoulder in fear of his life. Lent is a time for self-reflection. The “ends” do not justify the means. Jacob learned that lesson the hard way. God’s will shall be done. We need not force His hand. When we’re tempted to influence the Father’s will on our own terms may we learn to walk and wait patiently for the Lord’s perfect timing.

I, a poor sinner, plead guilty before God of all sins. I have lived as if God did not matter and as if I mattered most. My Lord’s name I have not honored as I should; my worship and prayers have faltered. I have not let His love have its way with me, and so my love for others has failed. There are those whom I have hurt, and those whom I have failed to help. My thoughts and desires have been soiled with sin. I am sorry for all of this and ask for grace. I want to do better.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for private and congregational use
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

Thoughts for this devotion came from the following link
Prayer from Individual Confession and Absolution - Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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