Genesis 27: Isaac Fails to Bestow the Blessing on Esau
God sends a clear message that His blessing is gracious, not merited, and He gives it to those whom He chooses.
Have you ever prayed for God to bless you?
Genesis 27 repeats some version of the word “bless” 23 times. However, it is grieving to see the unbelief of the family as Isaac rejects God’s prophesy and tries to give the blessing to Esau, while Jacob deceives his father with his mother’s help.
vv. 1–5 - The concept of “blessing” is crucial in this chapter. However, it is important to remember Genesis 25:23, and the revelation given by God that the elder should serve the younger. Now Isaac is about 137. He will live for another 43 years, but he feels the need to make preparation. From other examples, it was common to call the entire family in for the blessing. But Isaac knew that his in intentions conflicted with the will of God, and he knew Rebekah would not have appreciated his intention to give the blessing of the eldest to Esau. So he calls Esau in secretly, requests that he make his favorite savory meat, after which he will bless him.
vv. 6–17 - Having overheard Isaac, Rebekah informs Jacob, and gets him to fetch two young goats that she might prepare it in a way that is exactly like his favorite dish. Jacob doesn’t know how he can convince his father that he is Esau. Since the purpose to go before him is for the blessing, then he will touch him and know immediately by his lack of hairiness that he is not Esau. However, Rebekah insists. She has concocted a plan, and believes that by using Esau’s garments, and manipulating the goat skins, she can dress Jacob in a way that will hide the truth from her blind and aging husband. How thankful we can be that when Christ took the responsibility to meet the demands of the Father, He did not adorn Himself falsely, but took our very nature and obtained the blessing of salvation with no deception.
vv. 18–29 - Jacob goes before Isaac. v. 19 contains three lies. v. 20 is not just a lie, but by wrongly ascribing something to God, he blasphemes. Issac, despite his aging senses, is suspicious. How come he has caught and prepared the meal so quickly? How come he sounds like Jacob? He calls him over to feel him. Sure enough, he feels more like Esau than Jacob. He then asks him outright (v. 24), are you Esau? And Jacob does not hesitate to tell another boldfaced lie. Isaac then eats the prepared meal and confirms the blessing God intended for him.
vv. 30–40 - Knowing that Esau will eventually arrive and expect the blessing, Jacob hastens to leave Isaac. No sooner has he gone and Esau arrives with the requested venison. Realizing what had happened, Isaac trembles and affirms the irrevocable nature of the blessing he has already conferred on Jacob. Esau laments, not in repentance over his own sin, or his grieving of God, but the material loss. Both Isaac and Esau blame Jacob for taking away the birthright and blessing, but the truth is that Esau despised his birthright and earlier in his life considered the blessing that goes with it something of little significance. Upon request, Isaac proceeds to bestow a subordinate blessing upon Esau.
vv. 41–46 - Despite receiving a blessing from his father, Esau is mad and plots to kill Jacob. Rebekah finds out, and she encourages Jacob to leave for a time. Instead of telling Isaac of Esau’s intentions, Rebekah comes up with an excuse that Jacob needs a wife and must leave for a while.
God often uses the weak to confound the mighty. It would have been nothing for God, since He intended His blessing to rest upon Jacob, to have caused Jacob to have been born before Esau. Instead, we are taught an important lesson that God’s ways are not our ways. Perhaps you find yourself in a weakened state. That is not just a handicap, it is an opportunity to see God work.
All sins are wicked, but unbelief, and rejection of the gospel is the worst of all. We cannot defend the deceptive behavior of Rebekah and Jacob. Rebekah, upon overhearing Isaac’s words to Esau, ought to have confronted him. But the greatest fault lies elsewhere. Remember, Esau rejected gospel privileges when he despised his birthright, and Isaac initially rebels against the revealed will of God that the elder will serve the younger. These actions are the greater sins. Believer, do not minimize evidence of unbelief and thinking lightly of Christ. Such sins bring heavy judgment. Love the Giver even more than the gift.
Conflict among believing family members is ugly and often disgraceful. Notice how no one is communicating properly. Isaac won’t talk to Rebekah, and she won’t address Isaac. The entire event is depressing to read. Parents, do not permit an ugly attitude between family members, and learn the importance of open communication.
Honoring your parents is not the same as codependency. Jacob appears to have a codependent relationship with Rebekah. She thrives off feeling like she is essential to Jacob, and he had become used to depending on her. Mothers with strong personalities often create this kind of dynamic, sometimes manipulating daughters because they want someone to be around to care for them, and sometimes manipulating sons because they struggle to allow another woman to become the primary woman in their son’s life. This is wicked, and the problem is sometimes the grown children, just like Jacob, avoid certain responsibilities in life by encouraging it to continue. The only answer to this family dynamic is to create distance, which is what God does for Jacob. He takes him away from his mother. And although she hopes to see him in “a few days” (v. 44), she will never see him again.
Tears are no proof of evangelical repentance. Esau cried with “a great and exceeding bitter cry” but he is devoid of genuine repentance, and he fails to see his own shortcomings and makes Jacob the problem. While we should consider tears a gift from God and helpful in expressing our feelings, they don’t impress God if not mixed with a willingness to confess and forsake sin.
The sins of men are accounted for in the purposes of God. Isaac and Rebekah are trying to manipulate and counter manipulate in this chapter. This is folly. God neither needs our help, nor is hindered by our plans. Just as the sins of the Jews and Romans are considered as fulfilling God’s purpose in the death of Christ, so it is here. However, none of this excuses sin. Never withhold repentance towards God just because you see good come of your sin.
“Why is all this recorded in the Bible? It is not to the credit of these men. No! the Holy Spirit does not write for the credit of man: he writes for the glory of God’s grace. He writes for the warning of believers now, and these things are examples unto us that we may avoid the blots and flaws in good men, and may thereby ourselves become more what we should be.” — Charles Spurgeon
Genesis 27: Isaac Fails to Bestow the Blessing on Esau