13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Last week I examined the vision of Jacob’s Ladder and noted a number of significant details. However, there was one more point that I thought best to visit separately today. Namely, the difference between the blessing Jacob receives from God in this moment and the blessing he obtained from his father Isaac.
I had always believed that the blessing Jacob obtained by trickery from his father was the same covenant blessing from God to Abraham. But really it isn’t. Here, once more, is the language of the blessing Isaac gave in Genesis 27:28-29:
28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.
An impressive blessing, but not the same as the one from God. Isaac’s blessing is focused more on other people being subservient to Jacob, God’s is about Jacob becoming a great soul that blesses the lives of countless others. Isaac’s blessing reads more like a wish, “God give thee…,” “let people serve thee…,” while God’s is confident and sure, “thou shalt!” Of the two, God’s blessing is the more sublime in purpose and more definite in fulfillment.
And Isaac seems to have known that the blessing he gave was not the same that God could. Here again are his words to Jacob when he left home in Genesis 28:3-4:
3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
“Give thee the blessing of Abraham,” meaning that Isaac knows he has not already given that blessing to his son, because he knows it is not his place to do it.
I do wonder whether Jacob and Esau understood that distinction, though. All of their squabble about receiving their father’s birthright and blessing might have been because in their eyes that was the ultimate pinnacle of achievement. Many boys view their father as being essentially God Himself, and only have their eyes opened when they get out on their own as Jacob did.
The things that were incredibly important to Jacob only a few days prior have now become very small. Everything he had hoped to gain from his father has now been eclipsed by the promises of God.