Genesis | Chapter 27

Genesis 26:34-27:46

“The pathway of pragmatism”

  1. Intro.
  2. Vs. 34-17 A tangled web
  3. Vs. 18-48 That’s my boy?


Isaac was a man who re-dug his father’s wells and went the direction away from the border with the world. In the 25th verse we saw that the Lord led him back to the place of “roominess”. There he built an altar, pitched a tent and dug a well. There is a truth that all I ever needed I experienced when I first met the Lord and the rest of my Christian experience has been about me coming back to when I first met Him. In this chapter we discover that there is no magic in a physical location, only in the location of the Lord in our heart!

In the story before us of God’s chosen family there is not a one of them that acts as an altar builder, well digger or tent pitcher. How could such a dysfunctional family be dwelling in “roominess”? A one-word answer is all we need the “FLESH”. I remind all of us, our flesh, our old nature will never improve! In this body our flesh will not get any better no matter how many Bible verses you memorize or times you come up for prayer. Only in a crucified life in which we die daily to ourselves can we come out smelling like Him!

Vs. 34-17 A tangled web

Vs. 34-35 Here we see further evidence of what God knew before the womb of Rebekah that Esau was not to be in the lineage of the Messiah. Hebrews 12:6 calls him a “profane” person, “a person just outside the temple”. Esau had no regard for the things of God as that is the meaning of the word today. His choice of brides reveals this in two ways:

  1. He left the practice of monogamy, which is what God had said in the garden and practiced by his forefathers.
  2. He marries TWO Hittite women whose culture was extremely wicked and idolatrous. The name “Hittite” comes from their ancestor Heth who was the wicked son of Canaan.

This is no doubt the cause of the grief of Isaac and Rebekah who had been chosen to his bride because she was not among the Canaanites.

Vs.1-4 Reading these first two verses it would seem as though Isaac decided to bless Esau because of a since of urgency as he thought he was about to die but upon careful reading that was not the case.

  1. Yes Isaac was 137 years of age, which was the same age as his ½ brother Ishmael but we know that he would yet live another 40 plus years. The urgency was not his years but rather his flesh as he was trying to circumvent God’s choice of Jacob.
  2. Secondly you notice who was not present when Isaac made this declaration? Where is Rebekah, where is Jacob? Normally blessings were transferred in the presence of all the family such as we shall see in chapter 49 when Jacob will bless each son in the presence of all. Why the secrecy? The prophecy given to Rebekah while the two were tossing in the womb. Amazingly in spite of the prophecy and the obvious dissatisfaction over Esau’s choice of brides and the earlier selling of his birth right for red stew Isaac still favors Esau.

Isaac is trying to bake an apple pie using rotten apples, so he does it in secret. If what we are doing is right why do we do it in secret? Esau is not innocent of this “secret plan” of his father’s as he goes along with it perhaps thinking he will finally get one over on his younger brother.

It appears at first that Isaac was governed by his appetite but looking at verse 9 and verse 30 it appears that Dad couldn’t taste the difference between goat and wild game. What this shows is that what governed his choice was not his palate but rather the activity of Esau. As I was studying this verse I realized that I’ve done this countless times as God has revealed something in my heart yet I want the opposite so I devise a plan and ask God to bless MY plan even though it is the opposite of His will!

Vs. 5 Jacob and Esau were most likely around 75 by this time and Isaac had a good plan if it had not been for the fact that Rebekah had a habit of listening in. According to the Hebrew she made it a pattern to keep an eye on Isaac and Esau which suggests that she was suspicious of a plot to overturn God’s revealed will.

Vs. 6-8 Esau barley leaves the tent when she runs to tell Jacob the plot and put her own plan in action. The first sign that something is wrong with the parents thinking is in the words of verse 1 and 6 “my son, her son”!  They were prone to think of the two boy’s as Esau being Isaac’s boy and Jacob being Rebekah’s boy. The truth of the matter is that they were neither. In verse 7 Rebekah mentions to Jacob that this blessing was going to be “in presence of the Lord” something that Isaac did not mention to a spiritually indifferent Esau.

Vs. 8-10 We are left with only two possibilities concerning Rebekah’s plan:

  1. This was a spur of the moment thing and these things just came into her head. For us to believe this is quite difficult as all the details she gives with the supplies of Esau’s clothing and goat skin gloves would have to have been readily available.
  2. The more likely possibility is that this was premeditative, as she would have had more time to gather the things necessary to pull of her plan. She had weighed out the possible objections that Isaac would have had of Jacob pretending to be Esau and came up with answers. Just the fact that she had Esau’s clothes suggests this to me, as Esau was now married and no longer living with them.

There is no way we can justify Rebekah’s actions. We can understand them in light of the fact that Isaac is circumventing God’s will but it is still wrong. She is an example of a person who takes it upon themselves to carry out the plan of God because they see God as unable to carry out His own purposes. Instead of trusting God to fulfill what He had promised she matches wits with her husband in a case of dueling boy’s. Note this Christian, “Good intentions do not justify wrong actions!”

There is a name for this kind of behavior it’s called “pragmatism” or “situational ethics”. Whenever we are willing to abandon the question of whether something is right or wrong, or fail to ask if Jesus would approve we are voiding out His will for ours. At times I think we Christians are interested more in what “works” then what is right! “Hey, if it produces the results that we want then let’s do it!” The Lord reminded Israel through the prophet Isaiah saying, (NLT) “Listen! The LORD is not too weak to save you, and he is not becoming deaf. He can hear you when you call.”

There is something else we need to see in Rebekah’s words of verse 10, “Take the food to your father; then he can eat it and bless you instead of Esau before he dies.” Both Rebekah and Isaac seem to see his blessing as a “Midas touch” that God has to bend to. It is as if they both felt, as this was some way to manipulate God’s plan to their will. Esau could have had the birthright and 1,000 blessings and it would not have changed the fact that God honors whom He has called not who we name!

Vs. 11-12 Jacob should have said, “Mom, this is wrong and it’s against God if He wants me to have the blessings and birthright then He will make it happen!” Instead he lists two complaints:

  1. 11 Look Mom this plan will never work. That’s the reason he did not want to behave in a wrong manor? The plan has too many complications to work. In situational ethics, such as these, it all boils down to the premise that an emergency over rules the matter of something being right or wrong. How much better is it for us when faced with things like this to say, “It is wrong, justify it any way you want but I want no part of it!
  2. 12 His second objection deals with how he will look if it doesn’t go as planned. The word deceiver is actually the work that means “mocker” and it seems to suggest that Jacob was afraid that if it got caught that it would appear as if he was mocking his father age with it sight, taste and smell limitations. Jacob is more concerned with it not working then it being right or wrong! The consequences of failure outweighed proceeds of success. This is a horrible deterrent to sin as again it puts the decision upon being able to be convinced that the crime is worth the risk. Godly men don’t make decisions based upon practicality but rather upon principal. The truth of the matter is crime does pay it’s getting caught that doesn’t.

Vs. 13 Rebekah answers Jacobs two concerns of complications and risk of failure with one sentence: “Let the curse fall on me, dear son, said Rebekah. Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats.” “I’ll take the blame for you and I’ve thought of every detail”, was her answer to his weak objections. There are four things that we ought to do when faced with these situational ethics:

  1. 12:21 “Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Two wrongs never make a right!
  2. She could have gone to her husband and reminded him of what the Lord had spoken. Thus speaking the truth in love. The best place to start would have been confessing the sin of favoring Jacob over Esau in her own heart.
  3. She should have reminded herself and Jacob of the consequences of trying to obtain the promises of God in the energy of the flesh, (Ishmael)!
  4. Finally she should of simple trusted the Lord and left the matter in His capable hands. Since He is the God He claims to be then He can act on His own behalf!

Vs. 14-17 Instead of saying NO, Jacob does what his mother told him to do and Rebekah prepared the food while he dressed in his brothers smelly clothes, put on goat gloves and scarf so to appear hairy.

Vs. 18-48 That’s my boy?

Vs. 18-24 This story shows us that even if our goal is biblical, our motivation pure yet the means we employ is wrong then we taint both our goal and motivation and cause others to question the God we proclaim.

There were two parts of this plan that seem to not be accounted for that Isaac notices right away.

  1. The quickness of the preparation of the “wild game”.
  2. The sound of Esau’s voice.

Isaac was old but he still could think and hear well! Jacob had to divorce himself of all doubt if he was to go forward with his mother’s plan so as he approached his father dressed and ready to go and was hoping his dad would not ask him any questions but that was not the case. Now the moment that happened Jacob had a decision to make, turn and run or lie! The decision was too verbally lie but wait where was the lightening? How come he did not fall down dead like Ananias and Sapphira? I every time we lied we got zapped or died then there wouldn’t be any of us around and what few were wouldn’t be saying a word.

Isaac was deceived even though he tested Jacob using his five senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. We often think that if we can touch, see, hear, smell or taste something then it must be as it appears. Empirical evidence is great but it does not always guarantee that we won’t get deceived that is why illusionists are so good at what they do. The problem was not in Isaac’s ability to weigh the evidence rather it was in his heart that wanted it to be so!

Notice how lying got easier for Jacob after he told the first one.

  1. 19a “I am Esau your firstborn.”
  2. 19b “I have done as you have told me.”
  3. 19c “eat of my game.”
  4. 20 then in response to Isaac’s direct question of how he got the game so quickly, “the Lord your God brought it to me.”
  5. 24 Finally Isaac ask he directly, “Are you really me son Esau?” to which he replies “I am

The worst of these lies is where he claims that God is leading him to deceive. Yet still in spite of his doubt Isaac still is lead down the path of deception because of his own hearts wish!

Vs. 25-27 With the convincing lie Isaac is now ready to bless whom he believes is Esau. The use of the words “My son” in verse 26 in Hebrew means my “favorite” son, which means finally someone told the truth of what was really in their heart. Jacob could now justify all of his deception because of what his father just said and say, “It may not be right but it works, that’ll show them!” “I’m taking a stand for what God wants and even though it took lying to achieve it the ends justify my means.” Jacob looks and acts more like Esau then he thought, a man unconcerned with the things of God, more into getting what he wants. This is the first time a kiss will be a sign of betrayal but it won’t be the last. In 2nd Samuel 20:9 Joab kissed Amasa and then stuck him through with a sword. And of course Judas betrayed Jesus in the garden with a kiss.

Vs. 28-29 It is not the utterance of these words over a son that would make him blessed, it will be God honoring His word spoken while both were in the womb. Isaac’s blessing of who he thought was Esau is twofold:

  1. Vs. 29 First that Esau would be master over Jacob. By saying these words Isaac evidently thinks he can annul God’s will and validate his own. Yet in doing so he unwittingly validates what God wanted all along.
  2. Secondly, notice in using this blessing it is the same as the one bestowed upon Abraham in chapter 12:3 with one exception the words “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Why is that not here? Well that is the Messianic element of the blessing, which is stating that through this person the Messiah will be born. Isaac’s own words betrayed what he knew in his heart, Esau had no heart for the things of God. Interestingly after the veil of deception has lifted Isaac bestows these words upon Jacob, (28:4).

Vs. 30-33 The words, “then it happened” indicate that Jacob had just walked out and changed his clothes when his brother comes in. I can just see Jacob looking around this whole time watching for his brother. No doubt at this time though he is rejoicing with the thought of victory. Esau, on the other hand, must have been thinking the same thing until his dad said the words of verse 32 “Who are you?” Esau must have thought, “Man, dad is slipping fast!” The irony of this is that in trying to give all to Esau he left nothing for Esau.

His trembling was most likely for two reasons:

  1. He realized that he had been out done by his wife and Jacob so that the blessings he sought to give to Esau were by his own words Jacob’s.
  2. He realized that that he was trying to circumvent God’s will by what he wanted, thus what he thought was done in secret without God knowing was now very obviously known by God.

Now to Isaac’s credit here when Esau pleaded to him to reverse or also bless him he says, “I have blessed him; and indeed he shall be blessed.” It is this verse here that the author of Hebrews in chapter 11:20 refers to when he says, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” Is not God great who can take a man who attempts to thwart His will and use him by faith to do what he was supposed to do all along? I’ve got to tell you that I marvel more at the miracle of sanctification then I do redemption!

Vs. 34-39 What Esau despised in chapter 25:34 he now wants the material benefits of the birthright without the spiritual responsibilities. Both Isaac and Esau are quick to place all the blame upon Jacob yet where was there responsibility for disobeying the Lord to start with? Our sin truly always looks worse on someone else! The truth of the matter is that the birthright could not be sold, taken or obtained by deception, no it could only be obtain by faith through the way of grace.

Hebrews 12:16-17 comments upon Esau’s tearful repentance in verses 34, 38 by saying, “Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” It sounds as if God did not allow Esau to repent but that is not what is being said. The word “repentance” means a change of heart and mind, thus what is meant here is that there was no possibility of undoing what had been done God’s mind was made up even though Esau shed tears it was not enough to give him the birthright. The truth of the matter is that Esau did not like what he have sowed and what he wanted was to change the outcome of his actions. There are great many times that I have been tearfully sorry for the outcome of my actions but would still do what I did if it turned out the way I wanted. Maturity comes when we are not sorry for the outcome of our actions but rather the heart that produced them and that is what we weep over!

There comes a point in every life where there is a point of no return, that no matter how much regret over past decisions we cannot bring about a reversal of the situations we face of our own doing. Forgiveness of our sins is not the issue rather the receipt of what we have purchased by them is!

Vs. 39-46 Esau will struggle both physically and relationally. His descendants the Edomite’s will remain an independent nation until Saul lead Israel to a victory over them In 1 Sam. 14:47. In the year 129 B.C. John Hyrcanus compelled them to be circumcised thus they broke the yoke of bondage and even had a brief period where they were Israel’s leaders as we read of the Herod’s in the NT.

Isaac does bless Esau with a blessing of being desert dwellers and that he will serve Jacob but not forever as I said above. In Esau’s anger Rebekah makes plans for Jacob’s escape but the few days will be more than 20 years and he will never see his mother again. What price was paid to get what God had already promised?