Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:27-29

27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed:

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.

Yesterday I mentioned that Jacob, and Esau’s charade was of little importance, for God was sure to do what He already intended to do regardless of their antics.

And this is further reinforced in today’s verses. Notice that the blessing that Isaac pronounces upon Jacob was never meant for Esau to begin with. In the blessing Isaac said for Jacob to “be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee,” and this was exactly what God had already prophesied for Jacob when he was still in his mother’s womb.

There was no way that this was the blessing that was ever meant for Esau. Not so long as Isaac was giving a proper blessing, one where he only was a mouthpiece for what God intended to say. If Isaac had blessed Esau first, he would have still had to give him the same blessing that Esau ended up receiving anyway, if he had blessed Jacob second, he would still have had to give Jacob the same blessing that he gave him now.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:21-22, 24, 26-27

21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.

22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.

24 And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.

26 And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.

27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed:

Isaac is showing strong skepticism that this is, in fact, Esau before him. He is surprised that his son would be back so quickly with the venison and the voice sounds more like Jacob’s. And so he attempts to settle his mind, testing Jacob by feeling him, smelling him, and asking him questions.

Later, when the real Esau arrives for his blessing, Isaac immediately realizes what Jacob has done, showing that he still had misgivings, even after giving the blessing. But in truth, it didn’t matter. For God was not fooled, and the blessing was God’s to give. Isaac was merely the mouthpiece.

This chapter is full of charade and drama, and frankly I think it is nothing more than human theater. We like to think that we determine the hand of fate in our own lives, but all of our antics are only a façade, flashy but ultimately weightless. All we really choose is what sort of person we want to be, and everything that follows is determined by God. Jacob had chosen his identity, Esau had chosen his, and then God chose their according fates. And if Jacob had not fooled his father or if Isaac had figured out the trickery earlier…nothing would have changed, God would have still worked things out just as He intended.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:18-20

18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?

19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.

20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.

Yesterday I mentioned that Jacob going to his father in the guise of Esau might be a symbolism for how we are remade in the image of Christ. And in today’s verses, notice how Jacob’s words are almost a perfect fit for what our Savior might have said to his Heavenly Father.

“I am Jehovah thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and receive of my sacrifice, that thy soul may bless me.”

And when each of us is introduced at the judgment seat, I expect we will be introduced in much the same way, having put on his name and image through the atonement. We will be received as God’s firstborn, who did according to how we were commanded, who brought glory to God, and who are now worthy of God’s blessing.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 27:11-13, 15-17

11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:

12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.

13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.

15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:

16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:

17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

Yesterday I mentioned my ambition to read this chapter and consider whether it had more meaning than I had previously realized. And for the first time I noticed that these verses seem to be a symbolism for the gospel of Jesus Christ, something I had never seen before.

Recall these three passages:

Isaiah 53:6 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

Ephesians 4:22, 24 "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

In summary, the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we are all unworthy on our own, and salvation can only come through Christ. And so we put off our old self and put on the new man, meaning we put on the image of Christ. And when we come to the final judgment we do not stand in our own place, but we are invited to stand in the place of Jesus, the only one who is worthy to receive God’s blessings.

Now, is this there not a shadow of this transpiring in the story of Jacob and Esau? Jacob cannot receive the blessing on his own, so he puts on the trappings of his elder brother. He becomes the man to whom his father can bestow the choicest blessings. And Rebekah even says that any curse that applies to her son will be removed from him and laid on her instead, which is also symbolic of our curse being laid upon Christ so that we may go free.

Granted, I am sure that in the final judgment Jesus will not be dressing us up to try and deceive our Heavenly Father. We will not be sneaking our way into heaven under false pretenses. Yet there definitely seems to be a parallel here, and Rebekah and Jacob were led into this symbolism not knowing the significance of it.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 25:29-34

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Here we have the famous scene of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of pottage. Of course, God had already foretold that his covenant blessings would be continued through Jacob, not Esau, and I wonder whether Jacob was aware of that prophecy, or if he was fulfilling it unknowingly.

There are those who decry Jacob for taking advantage of his brother, though personally his methods have in these verses have never disturbed me. Esau might have said “I am at the point to die,” but he was still walking and talking, hardly the behavior of someone who is literally at death’s door. And if Esau was willing to trade the blessings of God to satiate his hunger, then he didn’t deserve to have it in the first place. He was literally valuing the things of the body more than the things of God. Even after Esau had taken care of his physical needs it then describes him as simply rising up and walking away, not showing the slightest sign of remorse at the priceless birthright that he had just given up.

And no doubt Esau’s temporal-focused mindset was evident in the way he lived his life, even before this moment. Jacob would have known that his brother would never honor and cherish God’s birthright in the same way that he would. Perhaps part of the reason why Esau was willing to sell the birthright was because he knew it, too.

There is a good deal of supposition from me in all of that, but I do think there is enough room for doubt that we shouldn’t try to judge Jacob on the matter. Maybe he was in the wrong, but also maybe he was not. And in any case, this whole exchange was only a bit of human theatrics, it did not actually change either man’s destiny. God had already determined where the blessings would go years prior, and Esau and Jacob were merely playing into his foreordained plan.

Leading to Water- Review of Jacob

Over the past few days I have considered the story of Jacob in the Old Testament, and I have found that it has several lessons to teach. First, though it is important to understand the context of where Jacob begins his story.

Jacob was born into a rich family and likely lacked for nothing. He even obtained the birthright from his father, and thus all of the luxuries he enjoyed as a son would one day become his very own. His father and grandfather were also very spiritual men, and had no doubt educated him about God and the covenant that he had been born into.

Yet for having had a claim on everything, from a broader point of view Jacob actually possessed nothing. These were Abraham and Isaac’s wealth and blessings just being handed down to him. His forefathers had earned all this, not him. Fortunately, it was not his destiny to just become his father. It was intended that he would find his own self.

And so he was sent out from his home, and his comforts, and his family, and the entire land of his youth. Alone in the wild he made his pillow out of stones and asked God for the thing he wanted most: to just go back home to his father’s house.

But that was not what happened.

God’s intent was that Jacob build his own house. To be motivated in that cause, God led Jacob to Rachel who awoke a powerful love in him. He felt inspired by her to toil and labor for the things his heart yearned for. Fourteen years he served for her, and along the way he obtained for himself large flocks of goats and sheep. These became the foundation of his own personal vocation, a wealth that he had earned rather than inherited.

Eventually Jacob did return to his homeland, bringing with him his great entourage. He received word that his brother Esau was coming to meet him, though, with a large host of men. It seemed certain to Jacob that Esau was coming to kill him and everything that he had. Family, servants, flocks…all of it.

Once again Jacob had a private conversation with God, pleading for the thing he wanted most: that he and his family would be kept alive.

And that was what happened.

Esau’s heart had been softened and he welcomed his brother in peace. Not only this, but Jacob was given a new name from the Lord: Israel. This is a very fitting symbol for how Jacob had truly become a new man. His own man.

His relationship to God was his own. His family was his own. His vocation was his own…. Through the help of God, his entire life was his own.

Leading to Water- Genesis 32:9, 11, 24, 28

And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.
And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

COMMENTARY

And Jacob said, O God, Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children
Over the past two days I have shared how Jacob entered into a covenant with the Lord in his moment of want and began a partnership with him. From that foundation he gradually accumulated the family, the wealth, and position that would define him. Together with God, Jacob had found himself.
But then, after he had gained so much, he came to a moment where he might lose it all again. Esau, his brother, had previously sworn to kill Jacob, and was now approaching with a battalion of men.
Jacob was in danger of losing everything that he had gained, and not only that, but even of losing the little he had always had, even his own life. In this moment of desperation he once again turned to God and petitioned for help.

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
And he said, Thy name shall be called Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God.

On the eve of meeting his brother and receiving his judgment Jacob was left in total solitude. He was alone with his fears, and here he had another miraculous encounter with God. This one was a bit different more active than the vision he received in his sleep, though! This time he physically wrestled with the Lord, just as he had been wrestling with his fears.
And while I do not know the exact state of Jacob’s mind, I can personally see how in the moment of great duress I would benefit from a moment of exertion and struggle, a time to get out my fearful energy before the calming reassurance was given.
Ultimately Jacob prevailed and his request for preservation was granted. Not only this, but he grew even more fully into his true identity. He proved worthy of a new name, one that would define both him and the nation that issued forth from him.

Leading to Water- Genesis 29:9-11, 18, 20

And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them.
And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

COMMENTARY

When Jacob saw Rachel, Jacob went near, and kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept
And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve seven years for Rachel
With yesterday’s passage we read Jacob’s plea to “come again to my father’s house in peace.” At the time, all he wanted was to go back home to exactly what he had before. But at that point he had not yet met Rachel. For as soon as he did meet her he stopped speaking of a hasty return to his father and instead committed to seven years of labor in a strange land so that he could marry her!
And when that dowry was doubled to fourteen years he prolonged his absence from home without hesitation! In fact, Jacob’s relationship to his childhood home becomes so unimportant that his story doesn’t recount anything more of it until he and Esau are burying their father after his passing (Genesis 35:29).

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her
Jacob had a love of his own now. And through that love he found a new vocation and a new home. While his father and grandfather had been well-diggers, he became an accomplished herdsman. While his father and grandfather set their roots in Canaan, Jacob took an extended leave of absence to Padan-Aram. In short, Jacob had become his own person. It was a hard thing for him to leave the nest, but truly it led him to spread his wings.

Leading to Water- Genesis 28: 1-2, 10-12, 18

And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother’s brother.

And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran.
And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

COMMENTARY

And Isaac called Jacob and charged him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, and take thee a wife from the daughters of Laban.
I want to start this series by looking at several points from the story of Jacob. These first verses describe the moment where Jacob is pushed out of his father’s nest. He has been raised in the land of Canaan and Isaac wants him to leave that area to marry someone within the Abrahamic covenant. Jacob is sent out to achieve this, and it appears that he was sent out alone.

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
It is also worth noting that this is not Jacob’s natural environment. Where his twin brother Esau loved to roam and hunt it has been previously stated that Jacob “was a plain man, dwelling in tents” (Genesis 25:27).
He was the son of a rich man, and the grandson of another rich man. Now he is out in the wild, laying out hard stones for his pillow. As we will see tomorrow, this hardship is not lost on him. His great desire is to “come again to my father’s house in peace” (Genesis 28:21).

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
But it is in this moment, alone and unprotected by his father, that Jacob has a character-defining encounter with God. It is while venturing out under his own power that he starts to meet his maker.

Personal Promises- Genesis 22:15-18; 26:2-4; 28:1, 3-4

And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
And said, That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

And the Lord appeared unto Isaac, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him,
God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
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.

COMMENTARY

I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven
I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven
God Almighty bless thee…and multiply thee…and give thee the blessing of Abraham

When God promised Abraham that his descendants would become as numerous as the stars in heaven, it was already implied that the same promise would apply to his son Isaac. How could Abraham’s descendants increase unless Isaac’s did as well?
And again, it was implicit that Jacob would have the same blessing as well by the same logic. In short, Isaac and Jacob might have thought to themselves “well, that was the promise of my fathers…so I guess by default it is also my promise.”
But that’s not how God works. He does want us to infer His involvement in our lives, or just assume that He is blessing us. He does not want us to receive anything by default. The pattern we see from these patriarchs is that He instead comes to each one of His covenant children and makes His promises to them directly. “Never mind that I made similar promises to others, this is a new promise and I am making it with you.”