Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.Genesis 27:30(NASB)
Before the birth of their twins, Isaac's wife, Rebekah, earnestly sought the Lord in prayer and was informed by God that two nations were growing in her womb and her babies would become two people groups. The Lord continued to tell her that one of the nations would be stronger than the other, but that the firstborn would be subservient to his younger sibling: "The older shall serve the younger,” was God's clear directive in his answer to Rebekah's prayer.
Isaac also knew about the prophecy given to his father, Abraham, that God's promised Seed would be born through one of his own children, and God's revelation to Rebekah identified Jacob as the heir, chosen by the Lord, through whom the promise would come. However, he rejected God's clear choice that Jacob, the younger twin, was God anointed. Isaac favoured Esau, his older son, who - unlike his home-loving brother - was a strong, skilful, hunting man.
Just as her husband favoured Esau, Rebekah doted on Jacob and it appears that this parental favouritism caused a deep rift to develop across the entire family. And in Genesis 27, we read that under Rebekah's direction, Jacob willingly participated in an ungodly scheme to deceive his father into giving him the family blessing that Isaac was secretly preparing to give to Esau, his firstborn son.
In those days, a father's blessing was usually given to the firstborn, and although he was well aware that God had chosen Jacob to be his rightful heir and successor, Isaac had decided to bless Esau instead. In direct rebellion against God's revealed plan, Isaac secretively arranged to flaunt God's will and bless Esau rather than Jacob.
Having overheard a covert meeting between her husband and Esau, Rebekah quickly plotted with Jacob to overturn her husband's plans so that Jacob would receive the blessing, as God had ordained. But rather than trusting God to carry out His stated will and purpose in His own time and in His own way, Rebekah and Jacob demonstrated a lack of faith in God's ability to fulfil His Word, which exposed some of their own serious character flaws.
Esau had been told by Isaac to kill some game and make him a tasty stew, after which his father would bestow his blessing upon him. However, Rebekah implemented a plan to deceive her husband. Dressing Jacob in Esau's clothes and reassuring her son that there was no need to fear, she prepared a tasty meal and instructed their younger son how best to deceive his father into blessing him... and Jacob was a willing participant. The blessing Isaac would bestow on Jacob would be a double portion of his father's wealth as well as being given the coveted position as head of the family - but the deceptive manner in which the blessing was stolen would be recorded in Scripture as a testimony to Jacob's carnality and lack of faith.
What a sad, disunited, and maladjusted family this proved to be - and yet God in His grace was to use them to carry forward His plan of salvation and His redemptive purposes for man. And no sooner had Isaac unwittingly given his blessing to Jacob, his younger son, than we read that Esau, his older twin brother, came in from his hunting.
There was much intrigue and scheming found within the story of the stolen birth-rite, which is packed with plots and counterplots from every member of the family. And so, having taken great lengths to scheme with his mother, deceive his father, tell Isaac an outright lie, and cheat his brother of the inheritance we read, "Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting."
This may be the material for a thrilling, fast-moving, storyline in a gripping movie or a good subject for an enthralling novel, but it is a sorry state of affairs when God's people demonstrate such underhand behaviour, such rebellion against God, such contempt for His revealed will, such disregard for their own family members, and such a lack of faith in God's promised Word.
This simple snapshot within the history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Israel, provides us with a multiplicity of lessons that we all need to learn and the dangers of unbelief and resisting God's will. We also see the consequences of contempt for God's stated will, a disregard for God's order within the family, and the destructive element of sibling rivalry which is too often exacerbated by parental favouritism.
We recognise that Rebekah and Jacob's ungodly attitude of 'the end justifies the means' is a man-made philosophy and not a demonstration of trust in God's faithfulness to fulfil His Word... and we identify in Isaac and Esau's premeditated plot to overthrow God's will, a serious act of rebellion against the Lord. We are also brought to a deeper understanding, in the book of Hebrews, that Esau was rejected by God because he proved himself to be an immoral, irreverent person who despised his birthright... having sold it to Jacob, earlier in the story, in exchange for one bowl of stew!
It is easy to read Scripture and condemn the carnal way and ungodly attitudes of many biblical characters, but we should take every opportunity to learn from their foolish mistakes and conduct our lives in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. May we be willing to learn the lessons that God would teach us through this disturbing story and walk in spirit and truth as we obey God's will and trust His Word, but may we also rejoice that God uses everything in our lives, whether good or evil, to bring about his plans and purposes for our benefit and for His greater glory - and the best is yet to come!
Heavenly Father, I marvel at Your amazing plan of redemption, yet stand astonished to see how quickly men and women like Isaac, Jacob, Rebekkah, and Esau readily defied Your Word and tried to frustrate Your will through their unbelief, human wisdom, and carnality. Yet Lord, as I consider my own spiritual walk, I see there are times when I have also been reluctant to trust You to fulfil Your plans and purposes in my own life or have been disobedient to obey Your Word. Give me a greater understanding of Your plan for my life, and I pray that I would learn all the lessons You would teach me through the Scriptures and live a life that is honouring to You. This I ask in Jesus’ name, AMEN.