A Family of Sinners (Genesis 27)
Usurping God (verses 1-4)
It’s easy to overlook Isaac’s part in this episode. Even though God had already made clear that the blessing was to go to Jacob (c.f. Gen 25:23), Esau seems to be very anxious to sneak the blessing to Esau. At this point, Esau had already traded away his birthright (despising it), and had married Hittite women (who are outside of the people of God). Still, Isaac is emphatic about passing on the blessing to Esau, rather than Jacob. Isaac is not just physically blind, he is morally blind. He is blind to his son’s wrongdoing, to his son’s spiritual state.
Undermining Isaac (verses 5-17)
If we consider Isaac’s secret mission to bless Esau as a plot, then we could also consider Rebekah’s response as a counterplot. Once again, a lack of trust in God surfaces in this story. God promised that the younger would receive the blessing, but now both Jacob and Rebekah are doubting. Instead of simply confronting Isaac about his secret plan and pointing out how it contradicted God’s will, she resorted to deception. Not only was Rebekah in the wrong, but in her effort to secure what was best for her son, she led him into sin as well. This should serve as a reminder to us that the end never justifies the means.
Jacob expresses concern about the consequences of the plan, but his concern is not with the fact that the deception is a crime. Instead, he is concerned only that he might get caught. We are so prone to believing that we can sin and not get hurt, but sin always has its consequences—always! In a mistaken effort to instill confidence in Jacob, Rebekah offers to absorb any potential curse herself. The only problem with that, of course, is that it is impossible. But when you are planning to sin, rationality is lacking.
Underhanded Jacob (verses 18-29)
Jacob’s initial concerns are proven legitimate as Isaac asks probing questions—“How so quickly? Let me feel your hands. Your voice is your brothers. Etc…” But Rebekah had thought of everything and Jacob was successful in his deception. Not only does Jacob lie to his father, but he actually has the audacity to invoke God’s name in the sinful plot (v. 25)! In light of Deuteronomy 27:16, 18, it becomes clear that in his effort to attain the blessing, Jacob was actually doing that which incurs a curse. However, in the end, he does get his father’s blessing, which includes fertility, preeminence, and covenantal renewal.
Unveiling the Deception (verses 30-40)
When Isaac discovered the deception, he responded with violent trembling, and Esau responded by crying out with a great and bitter cry. Isaac had attempted to usurp and undermine God and Esau had despised his birthright and blessing from God, and now both are in the panicked realization that “the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted” and that “no purpose of [God’s] can be thwarted” (Job 5:13; 42:2). The “blessing” Esau receives is really an ant-blessing. He will be separated from all things good and will serve his brother, living by the sword. We must not miss a clear warning from this text: having your own way is the pathway to apostasy.
Consoling and Conniving (verses 41-46)
Esau consoles himself by planning to kill Jacob. Rebekah tells Jacob to flee. She pitches the idea to Isaac in a way to make it seem like a good thing since she needs Isaac on board to make the plan work—Jacob needs a wife and they need daughters-in-law who will not cause grief.
- There are no innocent participants in this account. Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau are all guilty. Not only that, but we are guilty too! We too usurp God’s plan and undermine His authority. We too are prone to deception and dishonesty. Rebekah falsely said concerning herself that she would take Jacob’s curse upon herself. Doing such a thing is entirely impossible for her, but One would come who would eventually accomplish that very thing. Jesus Christ came and died to take the curse of our sins on Himself. We are all guilty sinners, in need of Him who put Himself in our place beneath the wrath of God that we deserved. Are you trusting in this Substitute? Are you hoping in Christ to cleanse you from your guilt?