On Wednesdays I meet with three other men where we are walking through John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life." In this group I try to encourage the guys to ask questions about scripture that they do not know the answer to. Hopefully someone in our group will be able to answer the question or, best case scenario, we will all walk through the answer together while sticking to a scriptural foundation. In this article I want to break down the answer(s) to a question that was asked this past week.
Why did God bless Jacob even though he only received Issac's blessing through deceit? Why not point out the deceit and bless Esau?
This is a question that is rooted in our natural tendency to want to be judge rather than trusting that an omniscient, sovereign God is able to govern the universe better than us. If we were to let humanity choose the standard of what is right and what is wrong... well, I don't think I need to go any further. One day there will be an article about that. There are three answers to this question that are not exhaustive. If you have any other explanations please send us an email, we would love to hear from you.
Jam Up Stew
On a light note, one of the reasons that God blessed Jacob instead of Esau is because Esau sold his natural birthright to Jacob for some "stew". Genesis 25:29-34 is summarized like this: Esau is out in the field doing something and comes back to the tents, what we would call our home, and he is hungry. Jacob happens to be whipping up a nice meal (the Hebrew for "stew" is "cooked food"). Esau asks Jacob to give him some of the food he was cooking and Jacob tells Esau he will only give it to him if he gives him his birthright. Esau says absolutely and thus gives Jacob his birthright.
So, later in the story in the verses where our question comes from, when Isaac blesses Jacob instead of Esau because Jacob and Rebekah acted duplicitously, by law Jacob should have received the blessing of the firstborn anyways. There was no legal deception here. There was only Esau receiving what he willingly gave up in a time of weak mindedness. There should be a self-evident principle in this story that I will not further expound here.
Moving along we come to our second reason: the twelve tribes of Israel came from Jacob's loin. After Isaac's death, Jacob was sent to dwell with his mom's brother Laban so that Esau would not kill him. The Spirit shows us through the author of Genesis that Jacob immediately receives his recompense for his own actions. This is important because earlier Esau willingly gave up his birthright, but Jacob was also in the wrong for taking it and subsequently deceiving his father into receiving the accompanying blessing of the firstborn. Jacob's recompense is that he is tricked by Laban into consummating a marriage with the less pretty of his two daughters (Genesis 29:17).
Due to the traditions of that day (maybe law, I am not a scholar) Jacob was forced to work for Laban for seven more years (he worked seven years for Rachel, but was deceived) so that he could finally receive Rachel as his bride. To add to Jacob's recompense he is now married to two sisters... From these two come the children that would be the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel from whom all ethnic Jews come from. Had Esau received the blessing, by reason we could assume that the Edomites would have been the blessed people, not the offspring of Jacob. Why would God not ordain a cleaner story, one out of a Disney movie plot, to bring about His people's lineage? "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; (1 Corinthians 1:27)
God Said So
Following along the same line of thinking as the latter portion of reason #2 we now establish the weightiest of all the reasons: because God said so.
And the Lord said to her, “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.” (Genesis 25:23)
Before either Jacob or Esau was born, God had already told Rebekah that the older would serve the younger. Again, I am no biblical scholar but even after a cursory read of the Bible you will be able to see the significance of the firstborn son of the family. God is giving Rebekah a bombshell statement that if it were it not coming from God she would have laughed out loud. Why would God allow the older to serve the younger? Why not just let Esau have his rightful path to being the head of the family? Why not let the future of God's people come from the loin of Esau? I will tell you why. It is because God is sovereign. In order to show us His sovereignty he sprinkles these little gold nuggets all throughout scripture so that when we get done sifting the dirt out of the pan and see it shining there in all of its glory we shout "Yes!" at its beauty and the riches it brings us.
Think about it for a moment. What if God had just let Esau roll on through? What if Christ's family lineage was pure Jewish rather than partially defiled by gentile blood (Rahab, Ruth)? What if the greatest king Israel had before Christ wasn't some shepherd boy? What if Paul had not been a Christian killer but had been a pure Jewish rabbi steeped in the scriptures who immediately recognized his Messiah when He first walked into Jerusalem? These examples can go on almost indefinitely. The beauty of scripture can never be exhausted. In the year 4021 the church will still be mining it and finding gems that are yet unnamed.
The reason why God does this is to show us that He is God and not us. If the biblical narrative were something that man could have crafted in his thought-factory then we would think we were God. We would think we were sovereign because the holy inspired word of God is just too predictable and "so last year, man." God had foreordained Jacob to receive the blessing, something we can't do. Paul clarifies even further why Esau serves Jacob: "in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.." So in short God shows us that regardless of all human willing and cunning and social structures that His purpose of election still stands (Romans 9:9-13).
If you have any further reasons comment below or email us at email@example.com.
Thanks for reading, God bless you.