Introduction: Genesis 27 tells the sad story of when every member of Isaac’s family tried to deceive each other over God’s blessings. In the prior chapters, God repeatedly intervened and spoke words of encouragement and affirmation of His promises. In contrast, He is silent here and removed from their evil scheming. This chapter is one of many to confirm the statements in the Bible that all have fallen short and are in need of what Jesus offers. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20; Ps. 14:3; Job 4:17, 25:4; Ro. 3:10, 23). Like every other person, it is only by God’s mercy and grace that the patriarchs were not disqualified from their privileged positions: “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous.” (Ps. 143:2). “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” (Ps. 103:8). Here, God reveals seven warnings about spiritual blindness from Isaac’s family’s deceit.
First, Isaac became blinded to the evil in his son Esau. Despite knowing of God’s prophecy that Esau would serve Jacob and that Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob, Isaac secretly schemed in his near blind condition to bestow his blessing upon Esau. His external blindness reflected what had happened inside of him. From this, God reveals that spiritual blindness comes from ignoring the evil in and around you. Second, Rebekah learned of Isaac and Esau’s secret scheme and then formed her own evil scheme to protect God’s prophecy. Because she did not trust God to fulfill His promises, she took matters into her own hands. From this, God reveals that spiritual blindness can cause you to doubt God and act on your own. Third, Jacob had tricked Esau into selling his birthright. Here, Jacob’s scheme included three lies to Isaac, including blasphemy by falsely invoking God’s name. From this, God reveals that spiritual blindness causes you to mislead through lies and deception. Fourth, upon learning of Jacob’s deceit, Esau became indignant. His own scheme to win back a birthright that he had sold had failed. From Esau’s hypocrisy, God reveals that spiritual blindness can lead to false piety and a lack of repentance. Fifth, Esau demanded that his father speak a word of blessing. Instead, Isaac placed a curse upon Esau’s descendants. From this, God reveals that spiritual blindness can bring a curse upon your descendants. Sixth, Esau then became filled with anger and planned to kill Jacob. From this, God reveals that spiritual blindness caused by deceit and lies can grow into far worse sins if it is not addressed. Seventh, upon learning of Esau’s plan, Rebekah told Jacob to leave the Promised Land, something he was also not supposed to do. This would result in Jacob being placed under more than 20 years of deceit from Laban, his future father-in-law. Rebekah would never see her son again. Jacob’s children would also deceive each other and him just as he did to his father. From this, God reveals that spiritual blindness and deceit will only result in pain and suffering.
Isaac’s secret deception to bless his evil son Esau. The multiple acts of deception in Isaac’s family began with Isaac’s secret plan to bless his evil son Esau: “1 Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, ‘My son.’ And he said to him, ‘Here I am.’ 2 Isaac said, ‘Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; 4 and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.’” (Gen. 27:1-4.) For seven reasons, Isaac knew or had reason to know that his secret plan was wrong. First, God previously prophesized that Esau would serve Jacob, even though the customs of the world might have said otherwise: “The LORD said to her, ‘ . . . the older shall serve the younger.’” (Gen. 25:23; Ro. 9:12). By trying to reverse the blessing, Isaac was trying to secretly circumvent God’s will. Second, even if God had not spoken, Esau showed that he despised his birthright by selling it for a bowel of stew: “Thus Esau despised his birthright.” (Gen. 25:29-34). From the context of Esau’s later complaints against Jacob, Isaac knew about Esau’s prior actions (Gen. 27:36). Thus, Isaac was trying to in fact give something to Esau that no longer belonged to him. Third, Isaac knew that Esau was not walking with God through his polygamous marriage to two Hittite women. His actions “brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.” (Gen. 26:34-5). Fourth, Isaac had reason to know that Esau did not deserve his blessings because he was a violent man (Gen. 25:28). Fifth, Isaac had reason to know that Jacob at that time deserved the blessing because he was a man of “peace”, also translated as “blameless” (Gen. 25:27). Sixth, he made no effort to inquire of God’s will through prayer. He was in fact nowhere close to dying. By failing to consult with God, he treated his blessing like a magic power that he could manipulate against God’s will. Finally, Isaac kept the planned blessing a secret because he knew that Rebekah loved Jacob and would have sought to defend the clear prophecy that God gave her (Gen. 25:28).
Bertram of Minden 1340 – 1414/15 (Isaac asks Esau to hunt for venison) (1383)1
Isaac’s spiritual blindness in favoring Esau. Despite the many signs that Esau was not worthy of becoming the next patriarch, Isaac was blinded to the evil inside of Esau. He instead showed favoritism to his firstborn because of his hunting prowess: “Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” (Gen. 25:28). Like Nimrod and Ishmael, Esau was esteemed by men for their violent skills in hunting and combat (Gen. 10:9; 21:20; 25:27). Yet, Isaac was more enamored with the idea of Esau’s hunting skills than the taste of the animals that he actually captured. He later could not tell the difference between Esau’s wild game and two domestic goats that Rebekah prepared to deceive him (Gen. 27: 9, 25). Many times the things that are valued by mankind are worthless before God. “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.” (Prov. 3:31). “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them;” (Prov. 24:1). Isaac’s blindness to Esau’s evil shows that believers must never become complacent. Isaac started off his life with great faith. Yet, he became complacent in his later years. His physical blindness reflected the spiritual blindness that came from ignoring evil around him.
Don’t be spiritually blind to the influences of the flesh around you. Like Esau, both Samson and Paul were struck with physical blindness to reflect their spiritual blindness (Jdgs. 16:21-26; Acts 9:7-8). In contrast, Moses walked with God and had perfect eyesight through the end of his life: “Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated.” (Dt. 34:7). “Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear.” (Jer. 5:21). “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it.” (Jer. 6:10). Thus, ignoring evil will eventually blind you. You must therefore examine everything in your life and your children’s lives. If not, you may become like Isaac. Have you become spiritually blinded by any of your sins or your children’s sins?
Many cannot see Jesus because they ignore the evil in their heart. To many believers who study the Bible, it seems amazing that so many could fail to see the proof of Jesus’ existence and His divinity by the many fulfilled prophecies between the Old and New Testaments. Yet, no matter how compelling the evidence, many are spiritually blind because they ignore the evil inside themselves and the evil in society: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4; Matt. 13:22; Is. 42:16). “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (Jo. 3:19-20). “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matt. 13:13). If you know someone who is spiritually blind to Jesus, have you tried to help them see their evil and their need for repentance? (Acts 3:19).
God blinds those who turn from Him. When a person rejects God, He may respond by closing that person’s eyes to His wisdom: “For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers.” (Is. 29:10). “May their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see, and make their loins shake continually.” (Ps. 69:23). “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” (Dt. 29:4; Ro. 11:8). But His blindness can be lifted.
Only Jesus can restore your spiritual sight. Unlike Esau and Samson, Jesus later removed the scales from Paul’s eyes (Acts. 9:18). He comes to give sight to the spiritually blind (Is. 61:6; Lk. 4:18; Matt. 11:5). “And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.’” (Jo. 9:39). Are you praying for Jesus to give sight to those who are in spiritual blindness around you?
The western world has also become spiritually blind because it ignores evil. Like the members of Isaac’s family, most members of western society today do whatever seems right in their own eyes: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 21:25; 17:6). Just like the members of Isaac’s family, the western world is now also largely spiritually blind because it ignores evil. Yet, God does not want His people to adopt their own system of morality: “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;” (Dt. 12:8). Just like Isaac’s family, He wants His family of believers to return to His standard of morality. The western world once closely embraced Christianity and sent missionaries across the world. Like Isaac, it started off with great faith but then became spiritually complacent. It must repent and reembrace its first love. “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Rev. 2:4). Are you praying and fasting for the western world to return to its first love?
Rebekah’s secret scheme to fulfill God’s prophecy by deceiving her husband. Rebekah was indignant when she heard of her husband’s secret plan to bless Esau. Yet, rather than trusting God to fulfill His prophecy, she felt the need to act on her own. She felt the need to protect God’s prophecy by engaging in her own evil deception: “5 Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the Lord before my death.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. 9 Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. 10 Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.’ 11 Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, ‘Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.’ 13 But his mother said to him, ‘Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.’ 14 So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.” (Gen. 27:5-17). The two goats which Rebekah used to deceive Isaac later came to symbolize sin. On the Day of Atonement, the Jews cast their sins upon the goats: “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat.” (Lev . 16:8). Rebekah was right to be upset with her husband’s evil scheme. But she improperly addressed his sin with her own sin.
Rebekah conspires with Jacob to deceive Isaac2
Privately confront a sinner with the goal of restoration. When she learned of his sin, Rebekah should have confronted Isaac in private: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Matt. 18:15). Her goal should have been to gently restore her blinded husband: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1). “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:21). Failing to follow God’s method for correcting sin will only lead to more sin and suffering.
Do not fight evil with evil. God warns that the use of deceit will turn both neighbors and family members against each other: “Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; because every brother deals craftily, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.” (Jer. 9:4). “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.” (Ro. 12:17). “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Pet. 3:9). If someone has hurt you, do you seek to get back at them with your own evil?
Trust God to fulfill His Word. In addition to employing deceit, Rebekah sinned by failing to trust God to fulfill His prophecy. His Word always comes true. For example, Abraham and Sarah tried to take God’s prophecy into their own hands by having Abraham sleep with Hagar (Gen. 16:4). The world is still suffering from that mistake through the Arab-Israeli conflict (Gen. 16:12). Thus, you must never lean on your own understanding of what must be done to correct a wrong. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). Have you tried to resolve matters on your own when things go wrong? Or, do you trust God that is in control of even bad situations? (Ro. 8:28).
God’s Word cannot be broken or defeated. Even if Rebekah had not intervened, God also would have fulfilled His Word to make Jacob the heir of Abraham’s blessings. For example, King Balaak would later solicit the help of Balaam, a well known sorcerer, to cast a curse upon the Jews because the Jews were too strong for Balaak to defeat in battle. God permitted Balaam to go with Balaak’s dignitaries on the condition that he only say what God commanded (Nu. 22:20). Balaam, however, later became filled with greed and planned to earn his money by cursing Israel (2 Pet. 2:15). Yet, God knew his thoughts and became angry with Balaam for his plan to deceive God (Nu. 22:22). God prevented Balaam from cursing the Jews and instead had him bless the Jews (Nu. 23-24). Balaam later lamented: “Behold, I have received a command to bless; when He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.” (Nu. 23:20). Jesus tells you never to worry about your food or your clothes (Lk. 12:23-26). When you experience economic or other difficulties, do you trust Jesus to provide for you?
Let the Holy Spirit be your voice, and let God avenge wrongs. Jesus shows what to do when you are the victim of injustice. He was silent when the false charges were leveled against Him (Matt. 26:62-63; Mk. 14:60-61; Lk. 23:8-10; Is. 53:7). Likewise, Moses did not complain when he learned that Miriam and Aaron had slandered him (Nu. 12:5-8). God says that vengeance belongs to Him alone (Dt. 32:35; Ro. 12:19). If you want God to protect your family from those who cause harm through deceit, follow David’s example in his cry for help: “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.” (Ps. 120:2). When you try to defend yourself or your family, pride will likely emerge (Pr. 16:18). Thus, Rebekah should have prayed for help instead of acting on her own. Do you pray for God to take control and correct the wrongs committed against you and your family?
Jacob’s deception of his father. Jacob had previously tricked his brother into selling his birthright for a bowl of soup. Thus, believing the birthright was now his, he willingly deceived and lied to his father to receive his blessings. This also included blaspheming God’s holy name: “18 Then he came to his father and said, ‘My father.’ And he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you, my son?’ 19 Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.’ 20 Isaac said to his son, ‘How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?’ And he said, ‘Because the Lord your God caused it to happen to me.’ 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.’ 22 So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, ‘The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ 23 He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24 And he said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ And he said, ‘I am.’ 25 So he said, ‘Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that I may bless you.’ And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Please come close and kiss me, my son.’ 27 So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, ‘See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed; 28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine; 29 May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; be master of your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, and blessed be those who bless you.” (Gen. 27:18-29). Because he was spiritually blind and walking by the flesh, Isaac used his senses to verify that he was speaking to Esau. He walked in the flesh by employing (1) taste, (2) smell, and (3) touch. He again did not turn to God for prayer or guidance. Thus, the deceiver was deceived.
Govert Flinck 1615 – 1660 (Isaac Blesses Jacob (Amsterdam)) (1638)3
Jacob and Rebekah deceived Isaac4
Jacob’s three lies. Here, Jacob told three lies. First, he called himself “Esau your firstborn.” (Gen. 27:19). Second, he lied by telling Isaac “I have done as you told me.” (Gen. 27:19). Third, after Isaac became suspicious, he then committed an even greater sin by his blasphemous claim “Because the Lord your God caused it to happen to me.’” (Gen. 27:20). As a reflection of his fallen state, Jacob referred to Yahweh as “your God” (Gen. 27:20). Likewise, if you are walking in lies and deceit, Jesus also is not your God. He might still be your Savior. Yet, He is not your Lord because you have not fully submitted to Him.
Deceit and lies place you under Satan’s influence. Jacob had a right to inherit the firstborn blessings. Yet, like his mother, he sinned in the steps that he took to inherit that blessing. Instead of turning to God, he sadly turned to the ruler of this world, Satan, and used his tools of deception and lies. Deceit is Satan’s tool to turn people away from God: “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.” (Dt. 11:16; 30:17). In the Garden of Eden, he used deceit to disguise himself as a snake (Gen. 3:1). He then deceived Eve by promising her that she could become “like God” if she ate from the tree of life (Gen. 3:4-5). He later deceived Pharaoh by letting him believe that his magicians could turn water into blood and cause frogs to come up onto the land (Ex. 7:22; 8:7). That power of deceit came from him. When Jesus was in the wilderness, he tried to deceive Jesus by showing Him the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4:8). He deceived Judas Iscariot (Lk. 22:3). He also temporarily deceived Peter (Matt. 16:23). Thus, the devil has real power to deceive, and Jacob was under his influence when he deceived and lied to his father. If you deceive or lie, Satan also temporarily controls you. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Are there any lies or deception in your dealings with other people?
Deception is also a sign of a false prophet. Because deception is a tool of Satan, it is also the sign of a false prophet: “They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,. . . .” (2 Pet. 2:13-15). “Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, . . .” (Jer. 23:26(b)). During the end times, the antiChrist will also deceive even the elect (Matt. 24:9-12, 24; Mk. 13:22; 2 Thess. 2:9-10; Rev. 16:14; 13:2-4). Thus, without God’s mercy and grace, Jacob would be called a false prophet.
A godly person only speaking the truth. Solomon warns that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21) and that “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Prov. 15:4). If Jacob were under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he would have rebuked his mother and spoken only the truth to his father. God’s Word only speaks truth: “Your word is truth.” (Jo. 17:17(b)). “For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’” (Is. 63:8(a)). “A trustworthy witness will not lie . . .” (Prov. 14:5). “He does not slander with his tongue, . . .” (Ps. 15:3(a)). “You shall not . . . deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Lev. 19:11). “You shall not bear a false report; . . .” (Ex. 23:1(a)). “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Eph. 4:25). “He who speaks truth tells what is right, but a false witness, deceit.” (Prov. 2:17). “Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Prov. 24:28). “These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; . . .” (Zech. 8:16(a)). “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths; . . .” (Zech. 3:13(a)). If Christ were to look upon a transcript of all your words, would He find that you speak only truth?
A godly person only speaking the truth with love. It is not enough to speak the truth. The truth can sometimes be used to cause pain with an evil intent. When Jesus confronted sinners, He corrected their behavior with love. Thus, the Spirit further only speaks the truth to others in love: “speak the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” (Eph. 4:15). You are also to speak “only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29). When you speak the truth to others, do you do so out of love?
A believer who speaks truth from the heart abides with God: Even when saved, if you want God’s Holy Spirit to be in your continuing presence, you must speak only the truth in love: “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.” (Ps. 15:1-2; Prov. 10:31). By contrast, a liar abides in deceit: ‘“They bend their tongue like their bow; lies and not truth prevail in the land; . . . And they do not know Me,’ declares the Lord. . .. ‘Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; . . . And every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbor and does not speak the truth, they have taught their tongue to speak lies; . . . Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,’ declares the Lord.” (Jer. 9:3-6). Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to be in your presence with truthful words spoken out of love?
A godly person speaks words of blessings to others. Throughout the Bible, godly people spoke words of blessings to others as an example for us to follow. Noah blessed God after the Flood (Gen. 9:26). As a priest, Aaron concluded his prayers by speaking words of blessings to the people (Lev. 9:22-23; Nu. 6:23-26). Moses also blessed the tribes of Israel before his death (Dt. 33:1). Jacob, after being renamed Israel, also blessed his sons and grandsons before his death (Gen. 48:9; 49:25). Paul blessed others (2 Cor. 13:14). Even though Isaac’s efforts to bless Esau were misguided, God still found some good in his actions. Isaac’s misguided attempt to secretly bless Esau was still evidence of his faith: “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.” (Heb. 11:20). When was the last time that you prayed for God to bless a family member, a friend or anyone else?
Esau’s deception in being angry about losing something he never believed in. After learning of Jacob’s deception, Isaac trembled in fear. Esau then showed indignation over learning he lost a birthright that he had sold previously: “30 Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, ‘Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.’ 32 Isaac his father said to him, ‘Who are you?’ And he said, ‘I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.’ 33 Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, ‘Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.’ 34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, ‘Bless me, even me also, O my father!’ 35 And he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.’ 36 Then he said, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.’ And he said, ‘Have you not reserved a blessing for me?’ 37 But Isaac replied to Esau, ‘Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him.” Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?’” (Gen. 27:30-37(a)). Isaac trembled in fear out of conviction for what he had tried to do. He also reaped the same type of deceit that he employed against Abimelech by lying about his wife (Gen. 26:6-11). But Esau never sought God’s spiritual blessing. He only coveted the double physical inheritance that would have come to him as the firstborn: “that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” (Heb. 12:16-17). Esau was himself guilty of scheming to steal something that no longer belonged to him. He was also spiritually blind to the evil inside of Him.
Esau cries out over the loss of a birthright that he always despised5
Repent of your deception and pray for God to root out lies in your heart. Like Isaac, Esau should have trembled in fear after his scheme to steal back his birthright failed. Solomon prayed for God to purify the lies within his heart: “Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, . . .” (Prov. 30:7-8). David prayed a similar prayer: “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.” (Ps. 120:2). Isaiah feared when he was in God’s presence because: “I am a man of unclean lips.” (Is. 6:5). The flying seraphim then used a burning coal to purify his lips. (Is. 6:6-7). Have you repented of your deception and lies and prayed for God to cleanse your lips?
Isaac’s prophetic curse upon Esau’s descendants for his life of deception and disbelief. Because Esau failed to repent of his sin and the evil within his heart, both he and his descendants were cursed: ‘“Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?’ 38 Esau said to his father, ‘Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.’ So Esau lifted his voice and wept. 39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, ‘Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, and away from the dew of heaven from above. 40 ‘By your sword you shall live, and your brother you shall serve; but it shall come about when you become restless, that you will break his yoke from your neck.’” (Gen. 27:37(b)-40). Because Esau and his descendants would seek to cause harm to Jacob and his descendants, they inherited the curse that God gave to Abraham’s enemies. “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” (Gen. 12:3(a); Nu. 24:9).
God’s judgment upon Esau. Every good and perfect thing is from God (Ja. 1:17). Yet, like many people today, Esau believed that the only good things in his life came from the respect he received for his own skills. Because he had no regard for the things of God, he was not thankful for his spiritual birthright. With sorrow, God “hated” the evil in his heart: ‘“I have loved you,’ says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have You loved us?’ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ declares the LORD. ‘Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” (Mal. 1:2-3; Ro. 9:13). God initially protected Esau’s descendants when they founded the kingdom of Edom in southern Jordan. “You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; . . .” (Dt. 23:7). Yet, He later judged them for their wars against Israel: “Flee away, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan, for I will bring the disaster of Esau upon him at the time I punish him.” (Jer. 49:8; Is. 34:5; Ez. 25:13). David later conquered Edom and made it Israel’s servant: “He put garrisons in Edom. In all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became servants to David. And the LORD helped David wherever he went.” (2 Sam. 8:14). Thus, God’s prophesy to Rebekah was fulfilled. Yet, God’s separate prophesy of Edom’s freedom would be fulfilled during the reign of the evil King Jehoram: “In his days Edom revolted against the rule of Judah and set up a king over themselves.” (2 Chr. 21:8). The lesson is that God’s Word always comes true.
Esau’s spiritual blindness grows into a murderous rage. After receiving the curse that God prophesied, Esau became filled with rage and threatened to kill Jacob: “41 So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” (Gen. 27:41). In addition to planning to kill out of vengeance, Esau knew that he could regain his inheritance by killing his brother. By default, the inheritance would go back to him. Thus, Esau’s blindness and evil continued to grow into even worse sins.
Esau becomes filled with rage and plans to kill his brother Jacob6
Deceit and lies will grow like yeast into even worse sins. Like cancer, the spiritual blindness caused by lies and deception will grow if the person fails to repent and return back to God. For example, while David sent his troops to battle the Ammonites, he slept with Bathsheba. At the time, she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam. 11:1-4). After she told David that she was pregnant, David first tried to deceive Uriah by sending him home from the war to stay with his wife (2 Sam. 11:5-8). When Uriah refused to stay with his wife while his troops were in battle, David then tried to deceive Uriah about the pregnancy by getting him drunk to entice him to go to his wife (2 Sam. 11:9-13). When that plan of deceit failed, David tried to cover up his adultery by writing a letter to his commander Joab to order that Uriah be sent to his death on the front lines of battle: “Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.” (2 Sam. 11: 14). If you have embraced deceit, your sin will also spread and become worse over time.
Jacob reaps the whirlwind from his deception. Although Jacob received the blessing that God prophesied at birth, both he and Rebekah suffered because they used deceit to obtain it: “42 Now when the words of her elder son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, ‘Behold your brother Esau is consoling himself concerning you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban! 44 Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury subsides, 45 until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day? 46 Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?’” (Gen. 27:41-46). God had a better plan for both Jacob and Rebekah. Neither would have suffered if they had trusted Him to fulfill His Word.
Rebekah tells Jacob to flee from Esau to Haran7
The sins Jacob reaped from his deceit. As a result of his sins, Jacob later fled to his uncle Laban’s home in Paddan-aram. (Gen. 28:5). There, he would be deceived by his uncle just as he deceived his father. He would also spend more than 20 years there and would never see his mother again. “Rebekah and Jacob are coconspirators in a grossly offensive ruse that fractures the family for two decades and contributed to the disgrace of Jacob for all time.” (Kenneth Mathews, The New American Commentary, Genesis 11:27-50:26, Vol. 1B (B&H Publishing 2005) p. 417). He would also live in fear of his brother: “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, that he will come and attack me and the mothers with the children.” (Gen. 32:11). He also later gave much of the value of the physical (but not spiritual) inheritance that he stole (Gen. 33:11). His children would also later use an animal coat to deceive Jacob in the same manner that he deceived his Isaac. “So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood;” (Gen. 37:31). Employing deception throughout his life, he too would become spiritually blind: “Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.” (Gen. 48:10). “In this tragic story, everyone lost. Each of the main characters – Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob – schemed and maneuvered in human wisdom and energy, rejecting God’s word and wisdom. God still accomplished His purpose, yet each of the participants suffered because of they insisted on working against God's word and wisdom.” (David Guzik on Gen. 27).8
God’s mercy and grace in sparring Jacob from death for his blasphemy. Jacob’s third lie to Isaac included blasphemy by falsely claiming that “the Lord had brought it [the sacrifice] me.” (Gen. 27:20). This violated God’s Third Commandment (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). For the unsaved, the penalty for profaning God’s holy name was death by stoning: “Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him.” (Lev. 24:16). “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Dt. 5:11). God showed both mercy and grace by sparing Jacob from the judgment under the Law that he deserved.
God’s mercy and grace in sparing Jacob from the curse for dishonoring his father. Jacob also should have been cursed for dishonoring his father: ‘“Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.”” (Dt. 27:16). ‘“Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, . . .; I am the LORD your God.’” (Lev. 19:3). His conduct also violated the Fifth Commandment (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16). The penalty for breaking the Fifth Commandment was also death (Dt. 21:18-23). “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.” (Prov. 30:17). Because Ham dishonored his father Noah, the entire Canaanite people were cursed (Gen. 9:20-7). Again, God showed Jacob mercy and grace.
God’s mercy and grace in sparing Jacob from the curse for misleading the blind. Jacob also should have been cursed for deceiving a blind man: ‘“Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Dt. 27:18). “You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.”’ (Lev. 19:14). Again, God showed Jacob mercy and grace.
Like Rebekah, Jesus took your curse upon Himself for breaking the Law. Jacob did not receive the curses that he deserved for his actions because Rebekah took his curses upon her. “13 But his mother said to him, ‘Your curse be on me, my son; . . .” (Gen. 27:13). As part of her curse, she never saw Jacob again. She also is not mentioned again until her burial (Gen. 49:31). Yet, unlike Christ, she could not atone for these sins. Under the law, her sins were still passed down to her descendants (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Dt. 5:9). Possibly for these reasons, the 12 sons of Jacob engaged in ongoing acts of deceit against each other, their father and other peoples. Like Rebekah (yet without any sin of his own), Jesus took your curse that you deserve for breaking His Law. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’—” (Gal. 3:13). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21). How are you giving thanks for His sacrifice?
Your reap what you sow. Thanks to Christ, sin cannot undermine your eternal salvation (Ro. 8:38-39; John 10:29). Yet, God warns that those who employ evil, like deceit or lies, will still reap the sins that they have sowed: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8). “For they sow the wind And they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; It yields no grain. Should it yield, strangers would swallow it up.” (Hos. 8:7). “According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:8). “He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made.” (Ps. 7:15). “He who leads the upright astray in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good.” (Prov. 28:10). “You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies.” (Hos. 10:13(a)). “I said to myself, ‘God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,’ for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.” (Ecc. 3:17). “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:14; Ps. 90:8; Matt. 16:27; Ro. 2:6). Thus, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;” (Prov. 1:7(a): Ps. 111:10). You show your fear of God by “hating” evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;”” (Prov. 8:13(a)). Have you tolerated evil in your life by using lies and deception? Like Isaac, have you also ignored evil in your children?
If you repent of your lies and deceit, He is faithful to forgive you. If you say that you are nothing like Isaac’s family, you are also spiritually blind. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). Thankfully, if you confess your lies and deceit, He is faithful to forgive you: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Have you fully confessed your lies and deceit to Jesus and changed your ways?
If God could use the wayward patriarchs, He can also use you. If you closely read the story of the patriarchs, you might marvel at why God used them. But He shows you their sins to give you hope. If you have confessed your sins, He can also use you for His purposes.