“Those that are treacherous and deceitful in their dealings with God, and passionate and outrageous in their conduct towards men, will justly be made a derision to their neighbors, for they make themselves ridiculous.” Matthew Henry. This is a very true statement and one we must pay attention to. Now, we know that history is cyclical. It’s tempting to look at the state of our culture and nation and think that the end is near or that this is the worse it’s ever been. It might be the worse it’s been in our lifetime, but if we are careful students of history we know that things can get a whole lot worse. Some of the vile and horrific things that have occurred in the past would make our culture seem godly in comparison. It’s true. When we examine the nation of Israel at this time, we see a nation more depraved than our own. Now, do I believe our country has become more treacherous and deceitful in our dealings with God as of late? Yes, absolutely. Have we reached Israel’s level? No. We are nowhere near it. But passages like the one we have before us are a warning. They were a warning to the people of Israel and they are still a warning to us. If we continue down this path we will be made a derision to our neighbors and we will make ourselves ridiculous.
As we have studied Genesis, we’ve been tracking several different storylines that God has been interweaving into history. Starting in Genesis 3, we’ve followed the promise of the one offspring of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent. We have watched the other promise that the offspring of the serpent would be at war with the offspring of Eve. When we read Abraham’s story we began pulling at a new part of the same thread. The covenant promises of Abraham were attached to the first promises and we have already seen that these promises were passed from Abraham to Isaac. Recently, we read through the story of how the promises were passing from Isaac on to his second-born son Jacob. In Genesis 27, Moses shows us that Isaac and his family were a mess. Isaac was trying to bless Esau against the word of God given before his birth that he would serve his younger brother. Esau was working to try to undo the earlier selling of his birthright and tried to earn his father’s approval but had no regard for God’s approval. Rebekah tried to follow the word of God but used deception and the undermining of her husband to accomplish it. Jacob wanted the blessing of God but was willing to throw everyone under the bus to get it. How easy has it been to identify with this family? They have been chosen by God. God has a plan for this family that he will work out in time. He will use their sinful choices and override them according to his will. God’s grace, mercy, and love for these people will direct their paths. In today’s passage, we start the story of Jacob’s journey from home. This is more than just a change of address for Jacob. He is about to embark on a spiritual bootcamp. God will take the one whose name means “cheat” and grow him into a man of God. Jacob will become Israel, the one who wrestles God. And by the end of this training the great El-Shaddai, the God of Abraham and Isaac, will be Jacob’s God. In Genesis 28:1-9, we will first see that Jacob is given the charge to leave home to go to Rebekah’s family and there find a wife. Then we will hear Isaac pronounce the covenant promises over Jacob as he leaves home. And finally, we’ll see the actions of Esau as he responds to his father.
The Kingdom in the Epistles. Paul, Peter, and the other apostles were given a unique insight into the coming kingdom.
Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. 3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Last time we looked at the beginning of Genesis chapter 27. We were given a front-row seat to the weaknesses of this family and the sovereignty of God. The weaknesses were obvious. First, you had Isaac the blessed of the Lord. A man who was trying to walk before God. And yet, he was a man with his own agenda. He was told by God before his children were born that the older would serve the younger. The covenant promises would not pass to his favorite son Esau but to Jacob. Isaac planned to bless Esau and to name him the stronger son. Esau, from the very start, has been a man that cared little for the family and taking leadership. He quickly traded away his birthright and knew that the blessing should go to his brother, but he believes that he is entitled to it and participates in Isaac’s foolishness. Rebekah, who also knows the covenant promises, plots with Jacob to usurp her husband’s authority. Instead of directly confronting the man she uses her son to try and get what she wants. And we found Jacob the heel-grabber. Always about the ROI or return on investment, gladly participates in his mother’s scheme once he knows that any loss that he could receive from this deception would fall to his mother. Like any good con man, Jacob layers his lies and preys upon the weakness of his father. Those that think that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament have never read the Old Testament. If you see God as merciful, gracious, and loving in the New Testament, how could you not see that here in these stories? The many sins of this family deserve eternal destruction. When we find Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in heaven it is only because of God choosing to have mercy on them and bestowing the riches of his grace upon them. If we arrive in heaven, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could say the same thing about us. In our passage before us today, we have the end of this scene in Isaac’s life. In an almost seemingly contradictory statement, the book of Hebrews describes this story in this way, “By faith, Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.” Keep this in mind as we finish this story out. First, we are going to look at verses 30-36 which describes Esau’s return home from the hunt and the discovery of Jacob’s lies. In verses 37-41 we see the record of Esau’s remorse and grief in losing the blessing. Finally, in verses 42-46, we begin to see the consequences of the sins of the family.
Jesus’ Testimony of His Kingdom. The King himself had much to say about his kingdom, especially in the book of Matthew. He often used the phrase “the kingdom of heaven is like…” to begin his parables, trying to capture for his disciples the character of the kingdom. We know much more from him about the spiritual than the physical nature of the kingdom, but he gave a few memorable glimpses into the regenerated earth.
Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For the judgment is for you; for you have been a snare at Mizpah and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter, but I will discipline all of them.
This week we begin a new series on the life of Jacob. Just like with Abraham, Isaac is still alive and plays a role, but the focus begins to shift to the next generation. We saw back in Genesis chapter 25 a preview of what we are about to encounter in the ensuing stories. We saw Esau, the firstborn, a wild man that had no interest in his birthright. As the firstborn, he stood to be the inheritor of all that Abraham and Isaac had accumulated over the years. Esau willingly trades his birthright for a lentil stew. We were also introduced to Jacob, the deceiver. Jacob, the younger brother, had the desire to take Esau’s place. When Esau had a felt need Jacob was quick to take advantage of the situation. This aspect of Jacob’s personality, the desire to get ahead at the expense of others, will show up again in later stories. The story we have before us today is probably one of the more well-known events in the life of Jacob and it is a disappointing one. Everyone in this story is a failure. The sins of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau are all on display here. The great patriarchs of our faith are shown to us, just as they are, just as we are, sinners. We also have before us a demonstration of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. I remember as a young Bible college student trying to grapple with these concepts. How can and how does God use the sinful and rebellious acts of people to accomplish His will and eternal decrees? How can people committing acts against the will of God be at the same time the will of God? Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? In some ways, I still grapple with these ideas because my mind is finite, bound by our reality and time. These things spring out of the infinite and eternal mind of God. And though I still ponder these thoughts, I have learned to be content with the answer that Scripture gives us, “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
Zechariah’s Visions: Part 2. Zechariah has more to say about the coming kingdom than any other minor prophecy. The last three chapters of Zechariah describe in vivid detail the final days of the great tribulation and the first days of the millennial reign of Christ. Zechariah’s vision is of a future kingdom where everything, from the temple altar to the cooking pots to the bells on horses’ bridles, is holy.
A year ago, we started working our way through the book of Genesis. The first book is full of themes and doctrines that each subsequent book expands and develops. If you are wanting to learn about any area of theology, the study of God, you must consult Genesis to get a complete understanding. Most recently we have looked at the life of Abraham. Much of what we know about the salvation that God has given to us is rooted in the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Today, on Resurrection Sunday, we are going to break from Genesis and take a detour into a book about a man who was probably a contemporary of Abraham, Job. Like Abraham, Job had an understanding of the ways of God that probably exceeds what we give him credit for. Job chapter 19 begins with Job defending himself against his so-called friends. Job has experienced the loss of children, the loss of prosperity, and the loss of his health. He is experiencing the greatest pain and suffering of his life. You would expect his friends to come and encourage him, however, they level accusations against him claiming that it is because of his sin that he is experiencing all his trouble. Of course, we know that this is not true because at the beginning of the book we were allowed to see that this is a test of Job’s faith from God and an occasion of temptation from Satan. While Job is in the test, he feels that God has come against him like an army sieging a city. His family want nothing to do with him. He has sunk to the bottom.
In verse 23-24 Job announces that he wishes his words to be written, engraved in the rock forever. Some commentators suggest that he is about to relay the epitaph that he desires to be inscribed on his tomb. We can’t be sure this is true, but what comes after would be a very fitting inscription. What Job said all those many years ago stands today. In his words we hear the reality of death and its destruction. He speaks of the reality of the Redeemer. And he introduces us to the reality of the Resurrection.