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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

March 16, 2016

Genesis 26:26-27-17

  1. Verses 26-31. We pick up our story with Abimelech and his men coming to Isaac and asking him to make a peace agreement with him. Abimelech, Ahuzzath, and Phicol all paid a state visit to Isaac. Isaac’s irritation as well as his curiosity can be seen in his interrogation: “...Why have you come to me, since you hate me, and have sent me away from you?” (Genesis 26:27). When he was in very close contact with Abimelech and the Philistines, the blessing of God on Isaac was present (vs. 12). The response of the people of the land was envy and animosity. They asked Isaac to leave their country. Now they were willing to come all this way simply to enter into a treaty with Isaac. What brought about this change of heart and mind? Isaac's conduct while with them was such that his testimony was far from sterling. He lied about his wife, passing her off as his sister. The Philistines could not imagine that his prosperity was the result of divine blessing, but rather they attributed it to just good luck. Now that Isaac's priorities were changed and his life operating along spiritual guidelines, the blessing of God was evident. The covenant which God had made with Abraham was understood, at least in a practical way, to have passed on to his son. Abimelech realized that the hand of God was upon Isaac and that a favorable relationship with him was highly desirable.

  2. Verses 32-33. What was once Isaac’s first concern is now his last, but water was still essential for his survival with such large herds. God would not let His servant do without that which he needed to prosper, and so the efforts expended in digging the well were blessed and water was struck. The place of God's presence is also the place of God's provision. Surely the right place for Isaac to be was in Beersheba. First, God had spoken in such a way as to confirm the decision of Isaac, a divine witness to the wisdom of this move. Then, Abimelech and two of his officials witnessed the blessing of God in Beersheba. Finally, there is the witness of the well. The place where God wants us to be is also the place of provision.

  3. Verses 34-35. Esau marries at age 40, just as his father Isaac did (25:20). Esau, however, marries two Hittite women from the land of Canaan (36:2). Abraham warned his servant not to take a wife for Isaac from among the wicked Canaanites, who would not give up their gods for their husbands (24:3). Thus, the servant found Rebekah from the country and family of Abraham (24:15f). Esau, who had earlier despised his birthright (25:34), shows that he has no interest in the spiritual dimension of the blessing that Isaac wants to give him. Moses implicates Isaac as well, because he made no arrangements for his son's marriage. Compare this with his father, Abraham, who sent his servant 500 miles away to get a suitable wife for Isaac (24:1). Fathers, are you praying for future spouses for each of your children? When it comes time for your sons or daughters to marry are you willing and committed to help them make a wise decision?

  4. Chapter 27 verses 1-4. Abraham's life ended with happiness, success, and a strong character. In contrast, physical and spiritual decay marked Isaac’s old age. As Isaac grew older, he strayed from God’s plan for his sons. Isaac is determined to pass on the blessing to Esau, despite what the Lord has said (25:23) and what the boys have shown with their lives. The fact that he attempted to make this transaction without the knowledge of his wife, Rebekah, and his son, Jacob, compound his sin. Normally the blessing would have been given before the entire family. But here we find that Isaac was planning in secret what should have been a very public transaction. Why? Because he knew he was wrong! Faith is living without scheming. Do you ever scheme when you want your way? Do you make decisions without including your spouse? Are you afraid you will lose out on “getting your way” if you include others? Beware! It is likely that your heart is set on illegitimate desires. In Isaac’s case, his insistence on a “good meal” before the blessing recalls Esau’s own trading of the birthright for a pot of stew, and thus casts Isaac in a similar role to that of Esau (25:27-34). Interestingly, the word “game” is repeated eight times and “savory dish” six times. This emphasis suggests that Isaac is ruled by his senses. Furthermore, a “savory dish” is the object of Isaac’s “love.” In this story of a fractured family, the word “love” appears only in the context of food. And though it was reported earlier that Isaac loved Esau (25:28), he now seems to love his food more than his sons. How pitiful! Where did Esau get his appetite? His dad! Isaac's taste for game is stronger than his taste for the Lord. Isaac is more consumed with his gut than God's glory (Ps 141:4). All he cared about was his favorite meal as opposed to obeying what God had told him concerning his sons. Isaac favoritism towards his son has him doing things he knows he shouldn’t do.

  5. Verses 5-10. The Hebrew form of the word “listening”(listening in on) suggests that this was a habit, a pattern of behavior, not a happenstance. Her behavior gives us an idea of the level of mistrust and poor communication they had in their family. What should Rebekah have done in this circumstance? She knew Isaac was wrong in what he conspired to do. Jacob was the son whom God had chosen to be the “heir of promise.” Thus, the first thing Rebekah should have done was to speak honestly and directly with her husband about his wicked plan. Submission to authority never includes silence toward evil. We are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), even to those in authority over us (cf. Acts 16:35-40). Having fulfilled her responsibility to warn her husband of the consequences of the evil he had planned, Rebekah should have been content to leave the matter in God’s capable and sovereign hands. Faith is living without scheming.

  6. Verses 11-13. Jacob questions the effectiveness of his mother's plan but not its scruples. He was worried about the eleventh commandment: “Thou shall not get caught.” He's afraid that Isaac, who can’t see, will recognize him by touch and perceive him as a “deceiver.” Jacob doesn't seem much concerned about how God perceives him. Yet, the Scriptures teach that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6a). And faith is living without scheming. Rebekah responds to Jacob with these words “Just do what l say.” In volunteering to absorb any curse that Jacob incurs, Rebekah is heightening the urgency of her case, although any curse incurred by one person could not be transferred to another. So even in this she is deceptive but effective in carrying out her plan. After his mom's reassuring words, Jacob threw caution to the wind: “So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands [She made him a pair of gloves.] and on the smooth part of his neck. She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.”

  7. Verses 14-17. Rebekah always has an answer for every question and a solution for every problem. She is strong, resourceful, decisive, and cunning. She has to be, being married to Isaac. He taught her everything he knew about lying and deceiving; and she was a great understudy! She posed as the faithful, loving wife, but under all of this she sought to further Jacob's interests, even at the expense of her husband, Isaac. Rebekah, not Jacob, was the mastermind behind the plot to outwit Isaac and obtain his blessing for Jacob. She informed Jacob of the situation. She devised a plan to deceive Isaac. This plan was far too complex to have been put together on spur of the moment. Obviously, Rebekah had been thinking about this day for years. Many of the props were already prepared and ready: the expertly fashioned goatskin gloves and neck coverings, the garments belonging to Esau, who probably wasn't living in his parent's home but in his own house with his two Hittite wives, and the deceptive recipe available that made goat meat taste like venison. This family is very dysfunctional, and it will cause major problems in our next week's lesson.

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