17–23 January 2016.
In chapter 27 we find a story full of heartbreaking drama. We often think of it as the story of “Jacob the Deceiver” cheating his brother Esau out of his blessing. But the main character here is actually Rebekah, the mother. It’s a story about her treachery, and about how she destroys her own family.
If parents have favourite children, that can only lead to disaster. And disaster is exactly what we see here! Esau is Isaac’s favourite, but Jacob is Rebekah’s favourite, and so she plans out a way to deceive her own husband. She plots it all out, and then draws Jacob into her evil plan. Deuteronomy 27:18 and Leviticus 19:14 warn us not to take advantage of the blind, but this is exactly what Rebekkah and Jacob do. They trick old, blind Isaac about his food (27:9, 19), they disguise Jacob as Esau (27:15–16), they lie to Isaac’s face (27:19, 24), and worst of all in v. 20 they drag the name of God into their lies.
When Esau comes home and exposes the trick, we see the heartbreaking image in vv. 33–34 of old, blind Isaac, distressed, confused and trembling violently, and Esau weeping and crying out loud. They have been deceived by their own family!
Rebekah thought any damage from her plan would be small, and that Jacob would probably just leave home for a few days until everything calmed down. But the damage was immense. This will be the last time she ever sees her favourite son, and he will be gone not for a few days but for 20 years. And Jacob will live in terror of his older brother coming to kill him.
But amazingly, even in such a broken family God still finds a way to make things work out for the best. From the ruins of a broken family, God still allows good things to come.
Family troubles are just as common today as in biblical times, and like with Isaac’s family those troubles can leave us in misery for decades. But even here, never forget that God is powerful to act. When everything is broken at home, God is still able to turn even the worst suffering and deceit into grace and promise.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis