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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Overcoming Reservations

Isaac assumes he is about to die (although he lives for many more years) and promptly decides to bless his son Esau before his death. Rebekah overhears Isaac and Esau’s conversation and quickly concocts a plan to secure Esau’s blessing for Jacob. 

Jacob ignores the only reservation that he has after his mother suggests their deception of Isaac, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I’m a man with smooth skin. What if my father touches me?” (Genesis 27:11-12) His mother gave him the answer he really wanted. He wanted to deceive his father; he just didn’t want to get caught. Jacob’s reservation was not one of virtue, but of method.  
Isaac ignores five different reservations:
Hearing - “Who is it?” Jacob doesn’t sound like his son Esau. It doesn’t sound right but Jacob proceeds anyway.
Reasoning - “How did you find it so quickly?” Hunting wild game takes time and Rebekah cooks goat in record time. It doesn’t ring true, but expediency rules the day. He must bless Esau. Now.
Touching - “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.” Esau is hairy and Jacob is smooth-skinned. It felt right, therefore, it must be right. 
Tasting - “Jacob brought it to him and he ate.” The food resolves an immediate need of hunger. The wisdom writer addresses the deception of appetite, “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hunger soul every bitter thing is sweet” (Proverbs 27:7). 
Smelling - “So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him.” It must be true because Isaac wanted so badly for it to be true.
Isaac’s reservations were God’s way of getting Isaac’s attention. His favoritism blinded him to the impact Esau’s marriage to pagan women would have on his descendants. Isaac, determined to bless Esau, violates the prompting of his senses. And, not once does he consult the Lord.
Rebekah is the only person in this story who does not question the situation. Esau’s marriage to pagan women grieved Rebekah and she takes matters in her own hands. Prayerlessness characterizes the entire family. 
Several truths emerge from this story:
  • A lie, like Jacob's maneuverings, may sound right, feel right and be totally a lie. 
  • Prayerlessness sets people up for deception. 
  • People are deceived when they ignore the “red flags” of their intuition, senses, reasoning and proceed with their plan. 
Things are never as they appear. Prayerfulness characterizes the lives of men and women who recognize this truth. God uses the "red flags" of the senses to warn man to stop and pray.  

Older Post
Scheming Women
"Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau . . . Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Look I overheard your father say to your brother Esau . . . Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you" (Genesis 27:5-6,8).

Your view of God determines what you do with His promises. Scheming reveals a low view of God, therefore Rebekah's faith in God must have reached an all time low. The passage of time wears faith down; that's why the Psalmist constantly says to himself throughout the Psalms: "Wait on the Lord". Those words need to settle into the backs of our mind and hearts so that they can guide us to put the brakes on our inclination to scheme and to wait on the Lord.

Scheming preempts God. And scheming ruins relationships or maybe, scheming reveals serious cracks in relationships (Isaac and Rebekah's relationship, each with favorite sons, could not have been healthy). Scheming and deceiving are symptoms of a deeper problem--the lack of trust and utter selfishness.

I wonder how God would have fulfilled His promise had Rebekah not interfered. I also can't help but wonder when Rebekah began to despise her husband. Did he have a history of rash behavior? Was this particular day like that of many others accented with hasty decisions? He woke up that particular morning "feeling his age" and decided to pass on the blessing to Esau. Yet, Isaac lived another 43 years. Due to Rebekah's scheming activity we'll never know what God would have done to prohibit Isaac's seemingly impulsive decision and to fulfill His promise.

This story teaches us that no amount of human scheming can prohibit God from accomplishing His ultimate purposes. God is SO big that He uses even the scheming that men do to accomplish His purposes. Real faith doesn't scheme. Real faith trusts in:

  • God's wisdom (He will do the right thing)
  • God's timing (He will do the right thing at the right time)
  • God's power (He is able to do the right thing at the right time)
Warren Weirsbe says that faith is living without scheming. So, when you find yourself scheming and manipulating others in conversation or activity you can know that you are walking in unbelief.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Genesis 27:1-28:9; Genesis 36; 1 Chron. 1:35-54
  • Describe Isaac and Rebekah's marriage.
  • How has "having favorites" affected their marriage?
  • Describe the boy's relationship with one another.
  • What was Jacob and Esau's view of God?
  • How many reservations does Isaac have (that something wasn't quite right) during his interaction with Jacob?
  • How does Esau respond to his mother and brother's deception?
  • What does this tell about holding grudges?
  • List a couple of areas where people today resort to scheming. What does scheming reveal about a person's faith in God?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to make you sensitive to when you scheme in words and in actions. Ask Him to enlarge your view of Him and His ability.