Friday, January 21, 2011

Genesis 27 - A Mother's Manipulation and Stolen Blessing

"Happy families are all alike; 
every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

LINK: Genesis 27


BACKGROUND


Isaac wanted to bless his oldest son before he died. Oral blessings like this were common in Near Eastern culture and had legal weight. A blessing was important and especially bestowed on the first born. Had Isaac not heard about the prophecy given to Rebekah in 25:23 about the older serving the younger? Had he not heard that his firstborn had already sold his birthright for bread and some lentil stew? Some commentators speculate that Rebekah's manipulation and deception were not as grievous as Isaac's asking to bless Esau and ignoring of the prophecy that Jacob was the son of promise. If he knew the prophecy, did he just not want to accept that, like himself, the youngest would be the recipient of God's promise? We do not know for sure. The prophecy was spoken to Rebekah and the selling of the birthright was between Jacob and Esau. So, maybe he did not.


We learned in a previous chapter that Rebekah favored Jacob, and Isaac favored Esau. (Maybe because he liked the meat he brought him?) Now, that favoritism breeds a heap of trouble in this dysfunctional patriarchal family! Rebekah was a deceiver, and Jacob was living up to his name, which means "he grasps the heel" (figuratively, "he deceives").


In 27:20 Jacob says to Isaac, "Because the LORD your God caused it to happen to me" when he lied about getting the game so fast! It would be quite some time before Jacob could say, "the LORD my God." In 28:20-21, he made a vow that he would call him "my God" after he knew God had returned him safely to his father. Genesis 33:18-20 indicates that He acknowledged God as leading him back!


Here is the comparison of the blessings between Jacob and Esau:


Esau's descendants, the Edomites, would live in a less fertile place than Canaan.


Isaac had unknowingly, solemnly transmitted the covenant blessing to Isaac by a legal binding bequest, and there was no way to "take it back." Understandably, Esau was bitter. In Hebrews 12:17 we read that "when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears."


This caused a wedge of bitterness and the break-up of the family with Jacob on the run from his brother who wanted to kill him. At this point, it seems like everybody lost in this situation, but we will see what happens in the future!


The chapter closes with Rebekah sending Jacob away to avoid Esau's wrath. She told Isaac it was so Jacob would not marry one of the women of Heth because Esau had married a Canaanite and Hittite woman that brought them much grief (see 26:35).


The Scarlet Thread of Redemption


Jacob, the father of Israel, betrayed with a kiss. Jesus, the great Son of Israel who obtained the blessing for Israel, was betrayed with a kiss in Matthew 26:48 and Luke 22:48 (NASB Study Bible, p.41).


Also, read Acts 3:12-4:4 and Galatians 3:5-14 regarding how we have received the blessing of Abraham's seed! "In His seed (Jesus) all the families of the earth shall be blessed."


REFLECTION



This chapter has always been so sad for me because it goes back to the curse of the garden on Eve. God said, "Your desire will be for your husband." The root of the Hebrew word for desire means to "overflow onto," and I see Rebekah overflowing all over the place here to put her favorite son, Jacob, into a position of prominence. What happened to the sweet and submissive woman of Genesis 24 who followed the servant to an unknown land to wed an unknown man named Isaac?


Yes, it was always meant for Jacob to inherit the promise. The birthright and blessing were already his while he was in the womb. Rebekah still manipulated the situation that God could have certainly worked out on His own and in His own timing. God's blessings are given by God and not by deceit.


One thing I see with many women is their need for control: over their husbands, over their children, over events in their life. This wreaks havoc in a family when the wife becomes "Queen Control" (that is what the Malay people call it when the woman "wears the pants" in the family). This story is a stern reminder to me that I need to not "make" things happen in a manipulative and controlling manner but allow God to work in His timing being dependent on Him in prayer when it comes to the future of my family.


APPLICATION

Evaluate your role in the family: Are you a dad who is not listening to the Lord's will for your family? Are you a mom who is trying to manipulate or control people or events in your family? Are you a parent who plays favorites with your children?

PRAYER



Lord, I thank You for being in control of all things, and I gladly relinquish that control to You. Lord, take my family in the direction that You desire and not in the way that I think it should go. Show me Your will for my family in everything that we do. Teach us what it means to live honestly and not deceitfully with one another. Give our families peace on every side. Thank You Lord that You have made us recipients of great blessing through the Seed, Jesus! Amen.
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