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Genesis 29:32b: Nourished by the first love

“32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, ‘It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.’” NIV

‘’It is because the LORD has seem my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.’’

Thinking and writing about Leah yesterday, and her understandable sadness about coming second in her husband’s affections (and possibly a very poor second at that), coincided with something I read in a book by Henri Nouwen:

‘…very few people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits. This unconditional and unlimited love is what the evangelist John calls God’s first love. ‘’Let us love,’’ he says, ‘’because God loved us first’’ (1 John 4:19). The love that often leaves us doubtful, frustrated, angry, and resentful is the second love, that is to say, the affirmation, affection, sympathy, encouragement, and support that we receive from our parents, teachers, spouses and friends. We all know how limited, broken, and very fragile that love is. Behind the many expressions of this second love there is always the chance of rejection, withdrawal, punishment, blackmail, violence, and even hatred. Many contemporary movies and plays portray the ambiguities and ambivalences of human relationships, and there are no friendships, marriages, or communities in which the strains and stresses of second love are not keenly felt. Often it seems that beneath the pleasantries of daily life there are many gaping wounds that carry such names as: abandonment, betrayal, rejection, rupture, and loss. These are all the shadow side of the second love and reveal the darkness that never completely leaves the human heart.’ (‘In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership’, pp.25,26)

In this book Nouwen argues that the Christian leader of the future must be anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love. Their identity must be deeply rooted in God’s first love,

This, of course, applies to every Christian. Like Jesus Himself, we must be sure of who we are as beloved children of God (Luke 3:22). Yes, we may be tempted at times to doubt this (see Luke 4:3/9: ‘’If you are the Son of God…’’). But what we all need, leaders and led alike, is to be so aware that we are loved by God that our essential security in Him is unshaken, no matter what anyone else may say or do. This will not mean that we vwill go unscarred by the bad behaviour of others, but we need not be defined by it. When we know we are deeply and unconditionally loved by God, we don’t need anyone else’s approval.

But we must learn to root our lives deeply in His love.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that my worth is not dependent upon the value-judgments of others. I am of great value because of who I am in your eyes. O Lord, I admit it’s often a struggle to see and feel this. So please help me in my weakness and need.

Genesis 29:31-35: ‘The love of God is greater far…’

“31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, ‘It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.’33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.’ So she named him Simeon.34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ So he was named Levi.35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.”NIV

We may not always understand the negative experiences we have to go through, but we can be certain that the Lord sees (and hears, v33) what is happening. He sees ‘’my misery’’ (32), and he sees me in it. I venture to suggest that we often find there are divine ‘compensations’ amidst life’s troubles. Sometimes surprisingly so.

But Leah had to learn (and so do we) that she could never earn Jacob’s love. Love is freely given. It can’t ever be a salary

That said, what the passage shows movingly is that although Leah felt the deficit where Jacob’s love was concerned, she was the recipient of God’s tender loving care in tangible and sensible ways – ways she could comprehend, could make sense of.

None of this actually changed the sad situation with Jacob. But even amidst pain and disappointment, may we learn to ‘’praise the LORD’’ (32). Indeed, may it be our determined choice to do so: ‘’…I will praise the LORD.’’

 ‘The names of Leah’s sons suggest the blessings that accrue through heartbreak. For the Leah’s of the world there are great compensations. God remembers and hears them. Broken-hearted and forsaken, they live again in the lives of those whom they have borne either naturally or spiritually.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.26.

‘Each wife had what the other wanted. Rachel had love but wanted children (Genesis 30:1). Leah had children but wanted love. Indeed, Leah expressed her longing for Jacob’s love in the names she gave her first three sons: Reuben, which sounds in Hebrew like ‘’he has seen my misery’’; Simeon which means “one who hears”; and Levi, which means “attached” – an intimation of Leah’s hope that Jacob would become more “attached’ to her after the birth of her third son. Levi became the ancestor of the Levites, the priestly line of Israel.

After the birth of her fourth son, Leah seems to have become more content and thankful, for she named him Judah, which means “praise.” Judah became the ancestor of the royal line of Judah, from which would come King David and eventually the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:3)’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’,p.175

Considering this short passage reminded me of these beautiful song lyrics:

‘The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell…’

I once heard the profoundly touching story that the words of the second stanza, were found written on the wall of a mental asylum somewhere behind the iron curtain:

‘Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made

We’re every stalk on earth a quill

And every man a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.’

PRAYER: I thank you Lord that nothing can separate your people from your love

Genesis 29: 14b-30: ‘’When morning came, there was Leah!’’

“After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, ‘Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.’16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder one was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, ‘I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.’19 Laban said, ‘It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.’ 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.21 Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.’22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?’26 Laban replied, ‘It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the elder one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.’28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.” NIV

You have to say this is one of the great lines in Genesis. So full of ironic humour. It must have been quite a party too for Jacob not to know he’d been duped until the morning. Maybe the combination of the darkness, wine and Leah’s veil made Laban’s deception all the more effective. Someone suggested that when Jacob said, ‘’Give me my wife’’ (22), he should have been more specific!

Jacob more than met his match in his slippery, wily Uncle Laban. If this was indeed the custom (26,27) why did he not mention it earlier? Jacob’s question to his uncle in (25): ‘’Why have you deceived me?’’ should be cross-referenced with Genesis 27:35,36. The deceiver was himself deceived. He had a most unpleasant taste of his own medicine, reaping something of what he had sown.

But, they say ‘love conquers all’, and Jacob’s deep love for Rachel motivated him to work long and hard to have her (20,30).

By the way, although we do find examples of polygamy in the Bible, and it does seem to have been permitted, it is never commanded. It is not the divine order of things. More than once we can see for ourselves that it’s not a good idea. In the words: ‘’Jacob…loved Rachel more than Leah’’ (30) there are ominous rumblings. But even in bad things, God overrules.

‘Looking back, we can see God’s hand in ordering these events. Jacob got his just deserts for cheating Esau. God got six future tribes of Israel from Leah, and two more from, her maidservant Zilpah (verse 24). Once more, God used the schemings of sinful humans to further His larger purposes.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.174.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray you will keep my heart, my words and all my actions true and honest. Help me to reject every form of falsehood. I would be committed to truth.

Genesis 29: 1-14: Not mass-produced

“Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.Jacob asked the shepherds, ‘My brothers, where are you from?’‘We’re from Harran,’ they replied.He said to them, ‘Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?’‘Yes, we know him,’ they answered.Then Jacob asked them, ‘Is he well?’‘Yes, he is,’ they said, ‘and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.’‘Look,’ he said, ‘the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.’‘We can’t,’ they replied, ‘until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.’While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, ‘You are my own flesh and blood.’ After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month,”NIV

First of all…some random thoughts/musings from years of reading this passage:

  • My experience of church life seems to say to me that people will gather where there is refreshment (2);
  • Love changes everything. It causes people to do heroic things. It can fill the heart with an unexpected vitality and strength. Consider Jacob single-handedly moving this stone. It was probably quite a feat for one man. (I wonder, was there something of a testosterone-filled bravado going on???);
  • The stone has been rolled away, as someone said, ‘not to let Jesus out, but to the let the church in’ to the truth and experience of resurrection life. How we are ‘’watered’’ at the well of Christ’s empty tomb (10)! Whenever I read these verses, I can’t get away from a sense of resonance with the first Easter stories. There are surely faint echoes of it here, even centuries before the actual events?

But here’s what I really want to focus on. It’s a point made by Warren Wiersbe in ‘With the Word’, p. 36: ‘God’s providence brought Jacob to the well just as Rachel was arriving. (See Gen.24:27).’

Again and again in the Christian life we are made aware of these ‘God-incidences’. Sometimes they may lie in the realm of our own experience. Other times we read about them, or hear about them happening to others. But they do occur uncannily often. I feel it’s part of the romance and adventure of the Christian life. It’s too much for co-incidence.

Wiersbe also points out a couple of other matters worthy of our attention:

  • Abraham’s servant found a wife for Isaac, but Jacob had to find his own. God works with us personally and individually. We are not mass-produced. His plans for people differ;
  • It seems that, typical of Jacob’s scheming nature, he tried to get rid of the shepherds so he could have Rachel all to himself!

‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and we have a special claim on his guidance in our matrimonial alliances – the most solemn and momentous step of all.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.25.

Genesis 28:10-22: ‘Every lonely spot…his house, filled with angels’

“10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ 17 He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’

God did not come to Jacob on this lonely journey and reveal Himself to him because the man was deserving. He wasn’t. He was twisted and he was twister. He was on a long journey (not only physically). The process of transformation he would undergo would be lengthy and gruelling. But God, in His unfathomable love and mercy, chose this man. He met him this particular night in his sleep, and spoke to him, and reiterated promises made earlier about a land, a people and a blessing (see Genesis 12:3; 13:15,16). He made wonderful, kind promises, to be with him and bring him home. He showed him the true picture – that he was not alone. There were angels all around. But best of all, there was God. His presence is inescapable and unavoidable. But even by the end of this section, it appears Jacob was not fully believing (20-22), and we see evidence of the deal-maker, trying to bargain with God when he had no need to.

No, God did not meet Jacob because of what Jacob was like, but because of what God is like. He sovereignly comes to people, and chooses them, and works out His great purposes in them and through them. He works on them, changing them bit by bit, teaching them so much along the way.

I found in my Bible a reflection on this passage from F.B.Meyer – one I must have jotted down years ago:

‘…we ought to feel that the present moment of time and this bit of the world’s surface are linked with heaven. This is what the ladder meant for Jacob. The moor land where he lay, and Laban’s home whither he journeyed, were as near God as his father’s tent…Oh that by humility and purity we may become more sensitive and awake to the things that are unseen and eternal.’

In his ‘Devotional Commentary’ Meyer also writes: ‘Jacob may have thought that God was local; now he found him to be omnipresent. Every lonely spot was his house, filled with angels’ (p.25).

Many years later Jesus came to the earth, and spoke to Nathanael about being the fulfilment of Jacob’s dream (John 1:51). He is the ‘Ladder’ between heaven and earth, bringing God to men and men to God.

PRAYER: Lord, in your mercy and grace, please continue to work on this ‘Jacob’ heart of mine. It is still full of so much that ought not to be there. Thank you for your immense love and incomprehensible patience. May I live out all the plans you have for me, for the greater glory of your Name.

Genesis 27:46-28:9: He is not a disappointment

“46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.’ 28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram,  to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.’ Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman,’ and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realised how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.” NIV

You find plenty of things that seem disappointing in the Bible. But in truth, it is holding up a mirror to real life. Isaac and Rebekah’s family was so dysfunctional. Their relationship seemed to start well, with that wonderful story of God guiding Abraham’s servant in chapter 24. This seemed to be a ‘marriage made in heaven.’ It clearly was God’s will to bring them together. But we, with our innate sinfulness, can mar and tarnish something that begins well and is initiated by God. Sin is a great spoiler of human relationships in general, and of marriages in particular.

We have already witnessed Rebekah assisting Jacob to deceive Isaac. Now, it seems to me, she was again being manipulative in what she said to her husband (46). There was undoubtedly truth in her words, but did she tell ‘the whole truth and nothing but the truth?’ I don’t think so. That’s the first disappointing thing I see here.

The second disappointment is with Esau (28:8,9). Talk about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face.’ See how bitterness can poison a person’s spirit. It’s tragic.

Even the best of people will disappoint us at times.

But God is never a disappointment (28:3,4). Sandwiched between stories of fallible human beings, we are reminded, in the words of Isaac’s blessing, that the Lord is faithful to all His promises. He has done as Isaac said. We can always trust Him.

F.B. Meyer says of Jacob: ‘Sad as he was at the inevitable separation, the star of hope shone in the sky, beckoning him onward. It was necessary that he should be taken from under his mother’s influence into that greater world where, through pain and disappointment, he could become a prince with God. Often our nest is broken up that we may learn to fly.’ Devotional Commentary’, p.25.

Genesis 27:41-45: An undrained grudge

“41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’42 When Rebekah was told what her elder son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’” NIV

‘’Esau held a grudge against Jacob…Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you’’ (41a,42b).

In his excellent book ‘Better decisions, fewer regrets’, Andy Stanley writes about Joseph finally meeting up with the brothers who had done him so much harm. (Joseph is a man we will encounter later on in the book of Genesis). It had been years since he had last seen his cruel brothers. By this time, Joseph was the second most powerful man in Egypt and they were at his mercy:

‘They were terrified because they assumed Joseph would decide unto them as they had decided unto him. Joseph had decided years earlier to live a story worth telling. He had been deciding a good story for thirteen years. He wasn’t going to ruin it now with a revenge chapter…Revenge stories? There are plenty of those. It’s what we expect. It’s when we decide against the grain that we decide a story worth repeating’. (Pages 83,84).

Well, that’s to come some chapters from now. But in this chapter, a red hot revenge story is bubbling away. Rebekah knew it, so she hatched a plan to get her boy Jacob out of the way ‘’for a while’’ (44). He would actually be away for more than 20 years and she would never see him again.

Selwyn Hughes was a well-known Christian leader from just a few decades ago. He was a popular speaker and writer, and his daily devotional, ‘Every day with Jesus’ was read by large numbers of Christians. In one edition, he told a story about a man who was injured by someone, and from that point on this man could not let the grievance go. He nursed it. Eventually, he became ill. In fact, he was so unwell he had to take to his bed, and he eventually died. Selwyn said that the man’s doctor told him, ‘You couldn’t put it on the death certificate, but he died of an undrained grudge!’

PRAYER: Lord, even if I should be treated badly or unfairly, help me to always ‘take the high road’. Enable me to follow the Jesus way of mercy and forgiveness. May no thought of vengeance ever capture my heart.

Genesis 27:30-40: Bitter regret

30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, ‘My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’32 His father Isaac asked him, ‘Who are you?’‘I am your son,’ he answered, ‘your firstborn, Esau.’33 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!’34 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!35 But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.’36 Esau said, ‘Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!’ Then he asked, ‘Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?’37 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?’38 Esau said to his father, ‘Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!’ Then Esau wept aloud.39 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

‘’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!’’ (34).

Doesn’t your heart almost break for him? How sad and pathetic this cry of bitter regret. The book of Hebrews exhorts us:

‘’See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears’’ (Hebs.12:16,17).

F.B.Meyer writes about verse 34:

‘On this incident the writer to the Hebrews founds the impressive lesson, that the choices of the past may cast a bitter and irrevocable shadow on all our future…Because of the cravings of appetite – in an evil moment Esau yielded to these…and found afterwards that the choice made in that hour was irrevocable…’

Someone observed that we make our decisions and our decisions turn around and make us.

Another said, ‘How sad it is to have to live with the consequences of forgiven sin.’

It’s not a question of whether or not the sin may be forgiven. If we are truly repentant it will be. But the consequences of a bad decision can haunt us for the rest of our lives. Although what Esau said in verse 36 was partially true, we know it was not the full picture. Certainly, Jacob was a deceiver. But had he really ‘’taken’’ Esau’s birthright and blessing? Is it not rather the case that, as Hebrews says, he ‘’sold’’ them? At such a poor price too. So his painful, bitter regret was self-inflicted.

PRAYER: Lord God, recognising that my choices have consequences, I ask you to give me the wisdom I lack. Please guard and guide all my ways, and keep me from wrong turnings.

 Thought: ‘Every decision you make becomes a permanent part of your story…you decide one decision at a time, because you write the story of your life…one decision at a time.’ Andy Stanley: ‘Better decisions, fewer regrets’ p.53.

 

 

Genesis 27:5-29: ‘Living without scheming’’

“5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, “Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.” Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so that I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.’11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, ‘But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.13 His mother said to him, ‘My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.’14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of her elder son Esau, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.18 He went to his father and said, ‘My father.’‘Yes, my son,’ he answered. ‘Who is it?’19 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.’20 Isaac asked his son, ‘How did you find it so quickly, my son?’‘The Lord your God gave me success,’ he replied.21 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.’22 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.’ 23 He did not recognise him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ he asked.‘I am,’ he replied.25 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. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come here, my son, and kiss me.’27 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.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness –
    an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you
    and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
    and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
    and those who bless you be blessed.’ NIV

‘’What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing’’ (12).

Okay I admit it. I’m a big fan of Inspector Jack Frost, brilliantly played by David Jason. In one episode, someone asked him how he knew a certain thing was so. I can see him now, tapping a nostril and saying, ‘Your nose’. If only  Isaac had taken notice of what his nose told him (22)…Mind you, he would then have blessed the wrong person. But none of that excuses Rebekah and Jacob’s duplicity. Sometimes ‘your nose’ does tell you something, and you can’t afford to ignore it. It may not necessarily be supernatural insight; you just have a deep-down knowing and it’s safest to listen to your instincts.

One thing I do find deeply disturbing in this story is Jacob’s desire to avoid the appearance and consequences of deceit, but not the deception itself. This made him a hypocrite – an actor playing a part. But who of us has not stood in his shoes? If you’re without sin then by all means throw that stone. I doubt you will.

Warren Wiersbe is again helpful:

‘Rebekah knew what God’s promise was to Jacob, and she should have let God work it out in His own way. ‘’Faith is living without scheming,’’ and who can hinder the Lord from accomplishing His purposes (Dan.4:35)?’ ‘With the Word’, pp. 34,35.

PRAYER: Lord, please teach me to live and speak in a straightforward manner. Cause my yes to be yes and my no to be no. May no deceit or guile find a nesting place in me. Let that truth you so desire be in my ‘inward parts’.

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