Before we get to the romance of Jacob and Rachel… and Leah, we need to understand the situation that set all of this up.
From my last post, it appears that Isaac and Rebekah are destined to live happily ever after. Well, the fairy tale part of their marriage is about to be over.
20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Good so far! They trusted for the Lord to provide in this matter. Just like with Abraham and Sarah, God gave them children through a barren womb.
22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
And now the friction begins. here is the set up and the test! God has prophesied that Jacob will be served by his older brother Esau. My old Presbyterian pastor back in Louisiana once preached a sermon on this topic. He asked us this question, “Does God need us to fulfill his prophecies?”
No He does not need us at all. Rebekah obviously thought otherwise.
But first a little bit of sinful humor. In verses 29-34 of chapter 25, Esau foolishly sells Jacob his birthright for some stew. It’s almost like a joke. “Hey, would you give me your birthright for some stew?” “Why not! I’m nearly dying here.” They both laugh. But in this Esau was making light of a blessing from his father. This reveals his lack of character. You shouldn’t make light the blessings of the Lord. He doesn’t find it very funny at all.
Relationships are very delicate things. It doesn’t need to be this huge controversial sin that destroys them. Oftentimes it’s something small that, because of our sins, is made to be much bigger. Take it as a blessing when the Lord disciplines you over your small or larger sins.
Hebrews 12:6, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
How are the parents doing? Do you recall when Abraham lied about his wife to save his own skin well…
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
So far so good! Don’t go back to Egypt. That was when Abraham (then Abram) lied about his wife, calling her his sister to protect his own skin. Maybe if Isaac stays out of Egypt he won’t be tempted in this way.
6 So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance.
*Face to palm.
8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. 9 So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” 10 Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 11 So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
It’s pretty amazing how these heathen kings show honor to Abraham and Isaac. Each time, God intervenes in some way proving that their fears are wrong. If they could only trust in the Lord for all things.
If only I could trust in the Lord for all things. His providence and love despite my anger and sins proves many of my fears false. I have been as tricky as Jacob at times. And what was it all for? I should have trusted in the Lord over my sins of mistrust. I should have acted honorably. Instead, my tricks have caused more sins to happen in me and in others. The Lord has dealt with me in these things. And so I warn you, trust in God over your situations. Do not give into fear and jump the gun!
Be patient and wait for God. He cares greatly for His people. He is the one who brings blessings and joy for those who wait on His nature and timing. If you move too quickly, it is a great sin. And it usually starts out with little small things. For the foxes that spoil the vine are also applicable with our relationship to God!
Speaking of patience and waiting on the Lord to do His will…
Chapter 27 begins at the end of Isaac’s life. He tells his oldest son Esau to go kill some game and cook him a meal so that he can give him his blessing.
Rebekah hear’s this and so while Esau is away, she instead cooks a meal for Jacob to bring to his father in the hopes that he might steal the blessing for himself. To further trick his father’s failing eyes, Rebekah covers him with skins of young goats, for Esau was very hairy.
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him…
In retaliation to this, Esau chases his brother away. Because of Rebekah’s sin, and then Jacob’s, God disciplines them by causing a separation.
And this, is the set up for one of the strangest romances you will read about. Next we will read about God’s punishment to Jacob and his restoration with Esau.