Isaac was the promised son of Abraham and Sarah in their old age. God told Abraham he would have so many descendants that no one would be able to count them. But only through Isaac will the whole world be blessed.
As Abraham was getting older, he charged his oldest servant to find Isaac a wife among his people in another land. He did. He found Rebekah and brought her back to Isaac.
This week’s Torah portion picks up here. We are given the beginning of Isaac’s generations with the birth of Esau and Jacob. From the very beginning of the pregnancy, Rebekah knew something was wrong. Now what I love about this passage of scripture is that Rebekah inquired of the LORD herself. She didn’t go to her husband, or the pastor, or the rabbi. She went directly to God Himself for an answer. Afterall, it was He who allowed her to finally get pregnant.
He told her she had two nations inside of her and those two peoples will become divided. One stronger than the other with the older serving the younger. And that’s exactly what happened.
Esau Sells His Birthright
It started with Esau, the older, selling his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob, for a bowl of stew. This birthright entitled Jacob to all his earthly inheritance and authority after Isaac died.
Esau came in after a long hunting trip and was exhausted. He asked for some stew his brother was cooking. Instead of giving him the stew, Jacob negotiated his birthright for it. I can’t imagine that this was the first time this topic came up because this is an odd thing to ask for.
When I was growing up we negotiated for things like your drawing set, doing my chores for a week, or your allowance. But a birthright for food! That seems like an unfair trade.
Yet, this is what Jacob and Esau negotiated. Esau gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew.
Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing
The division grew wider when it was time for Isaac to bless Esau. When Isaac was dying he asked Esau to bring him his favorite meal so he could bless him. Esau left to hunt for the animal. Rebekah overheard the conversation and told Jacob to pretend he was Esau so he could get the blessing.
Ancient blessings were irrevocable and binding. Once pronounced it couldn’t be voided out. That’s why Balaam couldn’t curse Israel. God had already blessed them. (Numbers 22-24)
Jacob took the meal his mom had prepared, put on Esau’s garments, and went in to his barely seeing father. Isaac blessed Jacob asking God to give him the dew of heaven, to have abundance, to rule his brothers, and curse anyone who curses him and bless anyone who blesses him. This was what God told Abraham. So, Jacob passed down the promise of God to Jacob.
When Esau returned and found out what happened he was devastated. He intended to kill Jacob after his father died. But Rebekah convinced Isaac to send Jacob to her family to find a wife. She told Jacob to give Esau time to calm down before returning. Rebekah never saw the son she loved the most again.
These two events caused a world of hurt for everyone involved. Jacob was forced to leave his family to avoid being killed by his older brother. Esau was forced to be the older son without an inheritance or a blessing. Rebekah was forced to live with the husband and son she betrayed. And Isaac was forced to die knowing that the son he loved the most would not be the promise keeper.
The question I ask you today is…Did Jacob really steal the blessing if it was already promised to him in the womb and after Esau willingly gave Jacob his birthright?
How Does this Apply to Us?
Every day we make choices, using the information available to us. Sometimes, we include others in the decision-making process. Other times we don’t. In all of these situations we reap the effects of our choices, whether for good or for bad.
Think about a time when you made a choice you thought would turn out good but didn’t. At the time of the decision did you have all of the information you needed, or did you choose to ignore some informationbecause you let your emotions get the best of you? Knowing what you know now would you make a different choice? Can you make a different choice and right your wrong? If so, will you?
Our goal should always be to make choices that lead to more good results than bad results. And that may mean taking responsibility for our actions and making things right.