Genesis 26-27: The Life of Isaac
In our last lesson we read of a time (Genesis 26:18) when Isaac re-opened the wells that his father had dug earlier and the the Philistines had closed up out of jealousy. Those wells belonged to Isaac. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's servants over them.
In Chapter 26 :28, we read that Gerar, who was Isaac's enemy, finally comes to Isaac and says, “We saw that the Lord is with thee.” and he makes a feast for Isaac. That is God's way. A man of God makes peace with his enemies. If our enemy is hungry, we must feed him. That is the way of the children of God.
In 26:34 and 35, we read, “And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief and offense of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” We see here that Isaac was not as careful as Abraham was, to find a partner for his son. He allowed Esau to marry whomever he liked. He had spoiled Esau by his favoritism and partiality. Isaac was more interested in the food Esau brought him than in the wife whom Esau chose. These are some of the warnings in Scripture, for us today.
Toward the end of his life, Isaac's eyesight began to fail. There is nothing serious about that. As we grow older our eyes will naturally become weaker. But the sad thing was that Isaac's spiritual vision also was dim and clouded.
As we grow older, our outer man may decay. But our inner man should become stronger and our spiritual vision must be sharp.
But Isaac's was not. He knew what God had said when his two children were in Rebekah's womb: “The older will serve the younger” But he still decides to go against God's word and to give is blessing to the older brother. Can you see his folly there? He tells Esau in 27:2-3: “Take thy arms, thy quiver, and bow, and go abroad: and take me some venison.” This old man with one foot in the grave is still thinking of food!! No wonder he lost his spiritual vision. Paul said in I Corinthians 9:27, “But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” This is the reason why the word of God encourages us to fast from food now and then-so that we can keep our gluttonous desires and our sexual passions under control, so that we worship God and not our stomachs. It was love of food that made Isaac spiritually blind. And it is love of good food that has made many priest spiritually blind too.
Isaac was saying as it were, “Esau, go and bring me this venison. If it is tasty I will give you God's blessings. I know God told me many years ago that your younger brother is to receive the birthright. But I don't care about what God said those many years ago. You have been a good son to me and have always brought me good venison to eat. So I am sure God will understand if I give you the blessing instead of going it to your brother who never brought me a good meal in his life”!! Think of the depth of Isaac's stupidity here. But God ensured that Isaac's plan failed.
Rebekah was on Jacob's side. Rebekah knew that God had said that the younger brother must get the blessing. So when she heard that Isaac was going to give the blessing to Esau, she schemed to help God fulfill His promise! She told Jacob, “Esau will take some time to get the venison. Meanwhile I'll make some good, tasty curry that your Dad likes. You go put on some animal skin and pretend to be hairy Esau and take the curry to your father.”
But did God need all of Rebekah's clever schemes to fulfill His promise to Jacob? Rebekah made the same mistake that Abraham made with regard to Hagar. Abraham felt: “God needs help! It looks as if the promised seed will not come. I must go in to Hagar and have a son.” Here Rebekah says something similar: “God needs some help now, because it looks as if Esau is going to get the blessing. I must help Jacob to grab it.” Let me assure you that God doesn't need our help to fulfill His promises. He certainly doesn't want us to cheat and tell lies to promote His work.
Many Christians think that the end justifies the means. That means that if our ultimate goal is good, it doesn't matter how we get there. But that is wrong.
The goal must be spiritual, and the way to the goal must also be spiritual too. If God wants Jacob to get the birthright, the way he gets it must be spiritual too. We must not do evangelism or church building by hook or by crook. It must be a godly way by which we reach that godly goal. And if as a result of choosing a godly way we find that we are not able to do as much as other people can do in an ungodly way, then so be it. But we will not compromise spiritual principles in order to do God's work. It is better to spend all our life building a small congregation made of gold, silver and precious stones than to build a massive congregation made of wood, hay and straw that will be burnt up in the final day!
What about you? Are you building in a godly way towards a godly goal? Esau had despised his birthright. It says in 27:34 that when he heard that he had missed the blessing, “Esau having heard his father's words, roared out with a great cry” Now he had regretted the decision he had taken many years earlier to sell his birthright. He had then thought that he would outsmart his simple-minded brother Jacob by getting the porridge from him then and the birthright as well later. But God outsmarted Esau finally. God knows how to “I will catch the wise in their own craftiness.” (I Corinthians 3:19). He ensured that Jacob got the birthright. So let all clever schemers beware. You will finally reap from God what you sow now.
It says in Hebrews 12:16-17: “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau; who for one mess, sold his first birthright. For know ye that afterwards, when he desired to inherit the benediction, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, although with tears he had sought it.” You make a choice in life when you are young. You come to a fork in the road when you are young, concerning moral matters especially. That is why it talks there about fornicators. Do you want the birthright, the eternal blessings, the spiritual blessings, or do you want the temporal blessings, the immediate ones, the bowl of porridge, that will satisfy your bodily needs? That's a choice that faces many young people today-a choice between that which is eternal, spiritual and in the future-and-that which is temporary, material (physical) and available immediately.
We all come to that fork in the road often. Moses came to that, and he refused the pleasures of sin, the wealth of Egypt and the honor of being Pharaoh's grandson. (Hebrews 11:24-26). And so God could use him.
Many of you are at that fork in the road right now. You may say, “Let me indulge a little bit in theses things. Ultimately I will repent and get the spiritual blessing too.” Let me assure you that you will not. Like Esau, you will only reap what you have sown. Make the right choice now for it says there, “Looking diligently, lest any man be wanting to the grace of God.” (Hebrews 12:15) May none of us fall from the grace of God and end up like Esau.