29th November 2022
Read (Hebrews 11v20)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
The story of Isaac and his two sons is a famous one and although the Apostle doesn't fill in the blanks it is well worth a trip down memory lane. In Genesis we meet Abraham's son Isaac and his wife Rebekah and in turn we meet their twin boys Esau and Jacob. The boys wrestled together in their mother's womb and the Lord told Rebekah “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
What did the Lord mean? His covenant promise would continue through the younger brother Jacob rather than the older brother Esau. As the boys grew, Isaac favoured his older son who was a hunter of game while Rebekah favoured Jacob.
This tension would eventually manifest itself in Jacob deceiving his father. Rebekah heard her husband promise his blessing to Esau and immediately leapt into action. She wanted the blessing to come to Jacob and so she made tasty food for her favourite son to present to his dad. Jacob then came before his father pretending to be his hairy brother by wearing goat skins and Esau's clothes.
The result was that the near blind Isaac thought Jacob was Esau and blessed his younger son by saying “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed! May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
Later he would be enraged by this deception and Esau would weep bitterly. Nevertheless he would have this to say over his older son Esau “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
Isaac's words were clear - the older brother would for a time serve the younger brother. The younger brother would know prosperity and nations would bow down to his descendants. If you read the story of this troubled family in Genesis 27 you will see that it is a tale of division, deception, anger and threatened violence. Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. His brother made sure by stealing the birthright anyway. A wife moved against her husband and a son constantly lied to his father. It is a tragic tale and yet here in Hebrews 11 the Apostle reminds us of faith.
Isaac may have been deceived and tricked by his wife and son but Scripture interprets Scripture and tells us that Isaac nevertheless pronounced blessings on both his sons by faith. Isaac understood that God was doing a work in his family. The Lord was clear that two nations would come from the two boys. The older brother Esau would be followed by the Edomites whist the younger brother Jacob would be followed by the Israelites. It would be Jacob's descendants who would inherit the promised land and from them eventually would come the Saviour.
Brothers and sisters, we often act abysmally to one another. How many families have been divided by deception and trickery? How many of us have acted in sinful ways towards someone we are supposed to love? We even see it in church. How often do we slander fellow Christians? Sometimes we are as hasty as Esau, as sneaky as Rebekah and as deceptive as Jacob.
I thank God that the success of His promises don't depend on us or our wavering faith nor is God's plan of redemption derailed by our sinful actions. He is faithful even when we aren't and He will surely bring His work to completion. Thanks be to God.
Q10 How did God create man? God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.