Like Father, Like Son, Like Grandson

Genesis 27

1When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”

“Here I am,” he answered.

2Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3Now then, get your weapons—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like* and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing* before I die.”

5Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ 8Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing* before he dies.”

11Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I’m a man with smooth skin. 12What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

13His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

14So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18He went to his father and said, “My father.”

“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing.”

20Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

“The LORD your God gave me success,” he replied.

21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

22Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him. 24“Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

“I am,” he replied.

25Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”

Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”

27So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed.

28May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.

29May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

30After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

32His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

33Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

34When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.

39His father Isaac answered him,

“Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above.

40You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.” (Genesis 27:1-40, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

In Genesis 27, we encounter a situation that demonstrates how our character traits seem to pass on to the next generation.

If you remember, Abraham was not always as honest and faithful as his reputation might suggest. In Genesis 20, Abraham deceives Abimilech, telling him his wife Sara is actually his sister out of fear that they will kill him to get her if they knew she was his wife. I wrote about this passage in my post “Old Habits are Hard to Break”. This wasn’t the first time Abraham had resorted to deception to alleviate his own fears.

In Genesis 25, Isaac also deceives Abimilech (likely a different ruler with the same name due to it being years later). He claims his wife Rebekah is his sister because he fears that because of her extreme beauty, the locals might kill him to take her if they believed she was his wife.

Now, a few chapters later, Isaac is an old man and he can no longer see. He invites his oldest son Esau to go and kill some wild game and make a delicious meal for him so that he can offer him, his oldest son, his blessing, something that was standard in the Ancient Near Eastern culture.

But Jacob and Rebekah have other plans. Jacob has already enticed Esau, his older twin to sell his birthright for a cup of lentil stew and now, with his mother’s help, he deceives Isaac into giving him the blessing that would normally be given to the older son. In this way, Jacob is establishing himself as the heir instead of Esau.

A few things stand out to me as I read this passage. First, it’s interesting to see that Esau has selective memory. He claims that Jacob had deceived him to get his birthright when the truth of the matter is that Esau didn’t care enough about his birthright and willingly gave it to Jacob in order to satisfy his hunger.

The second thing that stands out is that character traits like deception can be passed along to those around us whom we influence. Rebekah, who saw the deception of her husband in Genesis 25 is a willing accomplice, even the author of the deception that Jacob perpetrates on his father Isaac.

Because of this act, Jacob ends up fleeing his home, out of fear that his brother will kill him. This act takes him away from his family for many years.

Fortunately, Jacob is able to re-write his own story, as all of us are. This one incident doesn’t end up defining Jacob. Instead, God ends up giving Jacob a new name (Israel) and a new destiny, the patriarch of a new people who would be God’s chosen people.

Reflection

What character traits, good or bad, have you picked up from your family?

How can you ensure that you limit the negative traits you pass on to your kids?

What are some incidents in your life that haunt you and tend to define you?

How can you allow God to rewrite your story so you are not defined by that one negative circumstance?

 

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Was it Immoral for God to Ask Abraham to Sacrifice His Son Isaac?

Genesis 22

1Later on God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience. “Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

2“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you.”

3The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son Isaac. Then he chopped wood to build a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place where God had told him to go. 4On the third day of the journey, Abraham saw the place in the distance. 5“Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the young men. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

6Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the knife and the fire. As the two of them went on together, 7Isaac said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son,” Abraham replied.

“We have the wood and the fire,” said the boy, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”

8“God will provide a lamb, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both went on together.

9When they arrived at the place where God had told Abraham to go, he built an altar and placed the wood on it. Then he tied Isaac up and laid him on the altar over the wood. 10And Abraham took the knife and lifted it up to kill his son as a sacrifice to the LORD. 11At that moment the angel of the LORD shouted to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” he answered. “I’m listening.”

12“Lay down the knife,” the angel said. “Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me.”

13Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son. 14Abraham named the place “The LORD Will Provide.” This name has now become a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:1-14, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

Genesis 22 is one of the most controversial and objectionable passages to critics of Christianity (and Judaism).

The big question people often have from this passage that can cause doubt and skepticism has to do with this: why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? This seems immoral.

The problem with this thinking is that we are looking at it from the vantage point of our modern day morality. We KNOW that it’s wrong to sacrifice your own child. When we see or hear of religious groups or cults that practice this, we cringe in disgust, precisely BECAUSE we know that this is wrong.

But Abraham lived in a different time and a different culture than we do. Earlier in Genesis, we learn that Abraham came out of Ur of Chaldea. In this Ancient Near Eastern culture, child sacrifice was actually quite common as a means of appeasing various regional deities.

So when the Lord asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Abraham would not have had the same visceral reaction that we have today. From Abraham’s perspective, this was an expected act of allegiance to the deity.

So why does God do this if it’s wrong?

God does it precisely to show Abraham how different He is from other so-called gods. He asks Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test of faith and loyalty but then He shows Abraham that He is completely different from how the people in that culture perceived deities. Human sacrifice is not His way. God provides a substitute so that Isaac is spared. This encounter also foreshadows the gospel message – we are spared and an innocent lamb, Jesus, is sacrificed in our place.

In our current culture, God does not need to ask us to sacrifice our child to show our loyalty because He has already revealed His nature on this issue.

So if someone claims that God is asking them to sacrifice their child as a test of faith, or for any other reason, we can be certain that it is NOT the Lord who is making the request, but likely the devil himself!

For more on God’s view of human sacrifice as a form of worship and appeasement, see Jeremiah 19:4-5 and  Jeremiah 32:35.

Reflection

In the past, how have you reconciled or explained this passage to others who object to it as being “immoral”?

What would you say to someone who claims God is asking them to do something that seems to go against Biblical morals and ethics?

What questions or doubts do you have about God’s character or Biblical passages? How can you gain awareness and understanding of those “sticky” passages in order to strengthen your faith?

 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash