Daily Distinctives, April 26, 2018 – The Masquerade

And so we begin another day. God has seen fit for us to rise up from our beds again to awake, refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on the challenges of a new day. And what a day I pray it will be. When we understand that our purpose is to bring glory and honor to God with each passing moment of our lives, it helps us to keep all of the other things in perspective. On the other hand, when we fall outside of this purpose for our lives, all the rest in the world cannot bring the peace and joy that comes with our obedience to the LORD. I often wondered why certain catechisms received so much attention in the various sects of the faith. They used to seem to me like nothing more than mere exercises in rote memorization, and to some that may very well be the case. You see catechism more prominently practiced in Catholicism or mainline denominations as a tool to train practitioners of the faith to understand or at the very least give an account of what they believe. But a catechism (kat’-ə-kism) is a mechanism of teaching which utilizes a question and answer format, whereby the teacher, or catechist, recites a theological question, and the students, or catechumens, respond with the prescribed answer which they have committed to memory. For centuries, the church has used catechisms as a tool to instruct students in the basic truths of the Bible. The Bible does tell us in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. I can see then how catechisms could assist you in your apologetics, that is your defense of the Gospel. But I have come to realize that knowing the Scriptures and practicing the Scriptures, or living them out daily in your life, are two very different things. And in all fairness, knowing the Scriptures and practicing them in your life daily will not guarantee that you will never lose sight of them. As is the case for the characters in my devotional for today. No doubt, they loved God and revered Him, but even these godly people lost sight of obedience thinking that somehow it was on them to do what was right in their own eyes, when, in fact, the LORD is providential over every “circumstance,” and certainly did not need their help. And so we find Rebekah and Jacob entrenched in a game of deceit. Jacob is worried about being caught in a lie, and rightly so. But his mother presses forward with the deception thinking that she is somehow doing the right thing to help Jacob secure the blessing God had promised.

[Gen 27:13 NKJV] But his mother said to him, “[Let] your curse [be] on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get [them] for me.”

O the lengths that a mother will go to protect their children. It is a given that Rebekah was acting in defense of Jacob her son, but in doing so she neglected her other child. If she had done nothing, the LORD would have still made the way to keep His promise. To this end, and to every end, the LORD never fails. You get a sense of the loyalty that Rebekah had for Jacob here. She says, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice…” Now, I don’t want to give the impression that the blessing and the curse are some kinds of magical incantations that a father deliberates and disseminates to his offspring. And I would not be so naive as to suggest that the human agent has some ability to make a blessing or a curse, or have it stick for that matter. The fact is, that even if Isaac would have blessed Esau instead of Jacob, God would have seen to it that His will was accomplished regardless of what Isaac did. The fact of the matter is that when we have an understanding of what the blessing actually is, it makes more sense. You see, when the patriarchs blessed their oldest, as was the custom, they were essentially passing on the mantle of leadership of the family. Of course, this meant that they would inherit the wealth of the family to carry on stewardship, but it did not hold any sanctifying ramifications to have received the blessing of the father, with one small exception. This particular family is that exception. You see, it was through this family that God promised to bring the Messiah and the Savior of the world to mankind. The line in which the seed passed from generation to generation was a part of Gods providential plan which he would have accomplished despite the “good intentions” of the vessels He used to accomplish it.

On another note, I want to point out here the danger of favoritism again. I understand the depths that a mother will go to protect her children, but when they are protecting and supporting that one child over another, even when they feel it is God’s will that they do so, and while it may seem expedient for them to do so, it is never right to sin in order to accomplish the greater good. People ask about those wonderful people like Corrie ten Boom and her family, who at the risk of their own lives hid Jewish Refugees during the Second World War? No doubt, they practice deceit against a terrible enemy who sought to destroy innocent lives and exterminate the Jewish people altogether. They deceived the Nazi’s for a greater cause, did they not? And of course, there is the history of the Hebrew midwives during the times of Moses who deceived Pharoah by claiming that the Hebrew women would deliver before they could execute the children. Or what about Rahab who hid the two spies from their pursuers? There are many cases like these where the greater good would seem to be better served by deceit. So, were Rebekah and Jacob in the right? Well, as we shall see moving forward, they get away with the lie, but this does not mean there are no consequences for the sin.

[Gen 27:14 NKJV] And he went and got [them] and brought [them] to his mother, and his mother made savory food, such as his father loved.

So, Jacob is all in at this point and does as his mother commands and goes and gets the savory the ingredients for the savory food that his father so enjoyed.

[Gen 27:15 NKJV] Then Rebekah took the choice clothes of her elder son Esau, which [were] with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.
[Gen 27:16 NKJV] And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.
[Gen 27:17 NKJV] Then she gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

Now begins the masquerade. Rebekah and Jacob both knowing that it would be impossible to pass Jacob off as Esau come up with an elaborate disguise. Dressed in his brother’s clothing and outfitted with what I can only imagine was a crazy looking get up, complete with gloves and goat hair in all the right places, Jacob enters into his father’s place and puts on the act of his life. We have to keep in mind that the clothing would have likely been heavier than the leisurely clothing that Jacob would have worn, as Esau would have had a practical need to more durable clothing spending his time in the field hunting and such; whereas, Jacob spent his time “keeping house” so to speak. The clothing would have had the smell of the field and perhaps even the blood of animals, after all, it was not like they had any Downey or Tide back then. And though Isaac was nearly blind, there was one issue that Jacob would have to overcome, that being his voice. And so he enters in and charade begins.

[Gen 27:18 NKJV] So he went to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who [are] you, my son?”
[Gen 27:19 NKJV] Jacob said to his father, “I [am] Esau your firstborn; I have done just as you told me; please arise, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”

Immediately, Isaac is skeptical about his visitor, but Isaac likely reasons that based on Jacobs response that no one but he and Esau were privy to the earlier conversation, and so it is plausible that this may indeed be Esau. He was unaware that Rebekah had overheard the earlier conversation. Though it seemed reasonable that this might be Esau, Isaac’s senses present a different story and so he interrogates his visitor.

[Gen 27:20 NKJV] But Isaac said to his son, “How [is it] that you have found [it] so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the LORD your God brought [it] to me.”

Now, this is where the lie gets even more egregious. When asked, Jacob blasphemes the LORD and brings Him into His lie by saying the LORD had brought it to him. God had no part in this deceit but allowed it none-the-less. Had Isaac been more in tune with the LORD perhaps the LORD would have given him proper discernment. Already Isaac was skeptical, but it seems that Jacobs starring role would prevail. And so the interrogation continues.

[Gen 27:21 NKJV] Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you [are] really my son Esau or not.”
[Gen 27:22 NKJV] So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice [is] Jacob’s voice, but the hands [are] the hands of Esau.”
[Gen 27:23 NKJV] And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.

At this point, Isaac is really starting to get confused. He recognizes Jacob’s voice but all of the other tale-tale signs point to Esau as the one who Isaac was conferring with. I imagine Isaac thinking, “Man, I am getting old…maybe senility is kicking in, or maybe I am hearing things.” And so he asks point blank if it is Esau that is in his presence.

[Gen 27:24 NKJV] Then he said, “[Are] you really my son Esau?” He said, “I [am].”

Again, Jacob lies to his father and carries on the charade. We see this tactic played out in today’s political environment all the time. If you say something loud enough, and long enough, eventually it is perceived to be true, regardless of whether it is or not. Jacob is persistent in his lie and is wearing down his father. So Isaac gives in a little more and addresses his belly.

[Gen 27:25 NKJV] He said, “Bring [it] near to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, so that my soul may bless you.” So he brought [it] near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

Still, Isaac is skeptical and puts his visitor to the test once again. One thing that wasn’t broken was his sense of smell. He just finished some of that tasty grub that he loved but that nagging doubt still troubles him.

[Gen 27:26 NKJV] Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near now and kiss me, my son.”
[Gen 27:27 NKJV] And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: “Surely, the smell of my son [Is] like the smell of a field Which the LORD has blessed.

And with that, Isaac is convinced that the imposter is Esau. The next verses are both sweet and painful. They are sweet because we see the blessing that God passed down from Abraham continues through to its intended recipient, but painful to watch because we know that it happened through the act of deceitfulness. Here is the blessing with which Isaac blessed Jacob.

[Gen 27:28 NKJV] Therefore may God give you Of the dew of heaven, Of the fatness of the earth, And plenty of grain and wine.
[Gen 27:29 NKJV] Let peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, And let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed [be] everyone who curses you, And blessed [be] those who bless you!”

Isaac bestows upon Jacob the blessings of prosperity, leadership, authority and spiritual protection. Of course, we understand that this was not some “Hocus-Pocus, mumbo-jumbo,” but a passing of the torch, so to speak. It would be akin to a king making a royal decree which could not be revoked. With this blessing, Jacob now received the rights of the firstborn and all of the blessings and responsibilities of the role. With his victory in hand, Jacob departs from the presence of his father. No sooner had he left, Esau returns.

[Gen 27:30 NKJV] Now it happened, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
[Gen 27:31 NKJV] He also had made savory food, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that your soul may bless me.”
[Gen 27:32 NKJV] And his father Isaac said to him, “Who [are] you?” So he said, “I [am] your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

I picture this scene being a happy scene. Here is Esau and he goes out and does what his father requests. He hunts for the game, prepares it the way his father likes it and enters into his father’s chamber with the expectation that the mantle of authority would come to him. This very same birthright that he had earlier forsaken suddenly became important to him. It could be that when he forfeited his birthright to Jacob that he had no intention of following through, and while he thought to cross Jacob in the matter it was Esau who was doublecrossed.

[Gen 27:33 NKJV] Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, “Who? Where [is] the one who hunted game and brought [it] to me? I ate all [of it] before you came, and I have blessed him–[and] indeed he shall be blessed.”

Though it is believed that Isaac lived, yet, another 40 or so years, it would have likely been longer had these events not transpired. The shock of what had happened probably knocked a few years of life out of the elderly father. I imagine he was white as a sheet at this point because it says that Isaac trembled exceedingly. In his hastiness, he sent his eldest son out to prepare a special meal for a special presentation of a very special blessing, but in his own unfaithfulness towards God, his just reward was received.

[Gen 27:34 NKJV] When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me–me also, O my father!”

Oh, so now Esau is concerned. When he thought that perhaps it was merely a spiritual blessing he was not so concerned. He didn’t intend to ever give up his rights as the firstborn, but when he learned that the blessing came with the authority, prestige, and power, the loss took a dire turn in his mind and he cried out with a bitter cry and begged his father for the blessing.

[Gen 27:35 NKJV] But he said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.”

Pot calling kettle…come in kettle. Isaac was no stranger to deceit. You only need to look back a few studies and it was he that was discussed in the light of his deceit. If there are such things as a family, or generational curses then this might well be an example. Lying seems to be a common theme in this family. And so when you think of it, God uses even liars to fulfill His will. It is truly amazing and helps put things into perspective. No matter how sinful we are it does not preclude God from using us, still, we forfeit the true blessing which comes from obedience and will not escape from the consequences. The wages of sin is death. So, when I read this I think perhaps that Isaac is now reaping the sinful seed that he has sown. But the reality of it that he was outside of the will of God and God is not mocked.

[Gen 27:36 NKJV] And [Esau] said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”

Esau was only concerned about the advantages that come with the position and title. I have to believe, based on his previous actions that he would not have carried the mantle well even if he had received the blessing. Perhaps later on in life, he wised up, as we will see, LORD willing, in some future study that he encounters Jacob again, but this time he is not so concerned with having lost the blessing. But even so, in the midst of being slighted by his own brother, even Esau was not truthful. But let’s call him out for what he is. He is the very same thing that he accused his brother of being; a liar. Notice he says in the verse above that Jacove took away his birthright. Jacob did not take away his birthright, it was given away by Esau to satisfy his belly. To Esau’s defense, Jacob did manipulate this response from his brother by withholding good from him.

As believers, so long as it is in our power to do so, we should not withhold blessings from those who need them (Proverbs 3:27). All of this trickery and deceit would cause so much grief. It would do us all well to consider if we are caught up in the same thing amongst our own family members. Do we use trickery and manipulation to get what we want from those that we are closest to? And if we are doing things like that why is the environment such that we feel we must resort to such behavior? I would suggest (a lesson that I am still learning the hard way) that we should elevate those within our own homes to such a level that they would not have a want for anything but would be content knowing that their family is always ready to come with blessings mutually so that they might be pleasing to everyone in their family.

[Gen 27:37 NKJV] Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?”

I picture Isaac letting out a great sigh and saying, “No use crying over spilled milk here my son, what is done is done and there is nothing I can do about it now.” One thing I have learned in my walk when things don’t go your way is that you can get better, or you can get bitter. There are going to be great upsets in our lives. It is a part of living in a fallen world. The less we contribute to its fallenness the less we will likely get caught up in the messes that sin creates. Still, we are not dismissed from experience pain and loss in this life. When we do, we can either cry about it and fall into despair, or we can accept that there is nothing we can do but move forward with the hope of future blessings.

[Gen 27:38 NKJV] And Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me–me also, O my father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.

Esau seems to be having a bit of a fit here over the loss of something that he had no concern before this day. He cries out again to his father and this time he cries. Now, I have seen that there are a few kinds of tears that we cry. There are of course tears of joy. These tears come when we are emotionally overwhelmed by goodness. When my son Nikko was born I cried tears of joy. When I am listening to some worship music, occasionally I will cry tears of joy. If my wife asks me if I am crying, I will generally tell her, “No, my eyeballs are sweating.” Then there are tears of sorrow. When my mother passed away I cried tears of sorrow. Not because I did not know where she was going, but because I knew I would miss her and the thought of how my kids would not get to know her, love and be loved by her. And then are tears of pity. In this case, self-pity. These tears come when you have regret. They may not be motivated by selfishness but often times are. These are tears that come when you feel sorry for yourself. I believe these are the kinds of tears that Esau cried. But, you know, no matter what kind of tears you cry, you can take comfort knowing that God takes note of our troubles in Psalm 56:8 we read that He records our tears and keeps them in a bottle. It’s not that God has a quirky hobby, no, He records them because it is His intention to do something about them.

[Gen 27:39 NKJV] Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, And of the dew of heaven from above.
[Gen 27:40 NKJV] By your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, That you shall break his yoke from your neck.”

Now, this could be considered a curse, unless you live somewhere like Nevada and love it. What Isaac is essentially telling Esau is that he and his progeny will be desert dwellers, who will live tumultuous lives having to fight for everything they have. The blessing that Esau had forsaken would have been the complete opposite of this. Instead of being prosperous and inheriting great wealth, Esau would have to scratch and claw his own way. He would be a servant to his brother, that is, his brother would be the head of the family. But, Isaac also says that there would come a time when Esau would break free of his brother and become his own man and find his own success eventually. But with such a bleak outlook, and the denial stage of grief out of the way, the grief gives way to anger.

[Gen 27:41 NKJV] So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

This ploy that was engineered by Rebekah would have a negative net effect. She intended to bless her younger son but used deceit to get her way. In doing so she placed an incredible stumbling block before her eldest son. Now, Esau becomes embittered towards his own flesh and blood and this bitterness becomes a murderous desire. Now, the verse above says that Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” He said this in his heart, and so I would assume that he did not necessarily vocalize this. Yet we see in the next verse that the words of Esau were told to Rebekah. I would imagine that Esau could not contain his rage. We know that Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45), and so it is likely that the more embittered Esau became the more vocal he was about his intentions against Jacob.

[Gen 27:42 NKJV] And the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said to him, “Surely your brother Esau comforts himself concerning you [by intending] to kill you.
[Gen 27:43 NKJV] “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice: arise, flee to my brother Laban in Haran.
[Gen 27:44 NKJV] “And stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury turns away,
[Gen 27:45 NKJV] “until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereaved also of you both in one day?”
[Gen 27:46 NKJV] And Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these [who are] the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

So, Rebekah trying to protect her favored son calls for Jacob and warns him of his brother’s intentions. She instructs Jacob to get out of town for a few days to give his older brother an opportunity to cool off. She thinks that this will soon pass. She knows her older son well enough to know that he is highly emotional at the moment, but in time he has the proclivity of letting things go. I know people like this. They are really hot-headed at the moment but you ask them what was troubling them a few days later and they don’t even know what you are talking about. So Rebekah sends Jacob away. She was grieved that if Esau actually killed Jacob, she would lose Jacob, but the law would demand Esau’s life as well. She was also thinking about her own pity party. She saw the problems that came with Esau’s choice of wives and shuddered at that the thought of having more. So by sending Jacob away perhaps, he might find someone from her own family that would be suitable to marry. Sadly, Rebekah brought this upon herself. Little did she know that she would never lay eyes on Jacob again. Many commentators also point out that Rebekah’s death is not recorded in the Bible. It is as if her deceit was an eraser that prevented her life to be memorialized in the Scripture. I would say that sin cannot keep your name from the book of life, but it can keep you from ever being recorded in it, to begin with. This is why it is so very important that we come to know Christ as LORD and Savior in this life. It is Jesus that secures our salvation, not anything that we do. So while it is still today, if you do not know Jesus as your Redeemer, call upon Him and be saved.

Prayer: LORD, thank You for Your WORD. In it, I find my own conviction and am able to set a course for my life. I thank You for the restoration that You are bringing to my family. I understand my wife’s concern and apprehension. Like Isaac, she wants to know that this new visitor that I am becoming is really who she thinks it is before she showers her blessings of trust upon me again. Help me to be the man she needs LORD, but even more help me be the man You need me to be. I love You LORD and my life is Yours. Do with me as You will. It is in Your name that I pray. –Amen

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