Siblings Separated By Sin - Part One
Scripture: Genesis 26:1– 27:46
Siblings Separated by Sin-Part OneGenesis 26:1-27:46
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
The way I see it, there are two types of pain that enter a family. There is the pain you can do nothing to avoid such as a cancer diagnosis or the death of a loved one or a lay off at work. Then there is the kind of pain that is totally avoidable such as angry outbursts or betrayal by a spouse or rebellious children. As Christians we are told to expect the first kind of pain. This is a sin-filled world and God's grace helps us persevere through these trials making us more like Christ, and as I have experienced in this church, we can still have a strong family and maintain our joy and peace despite these inevitable trials. Yet as it pertains to the second kind of trials, we as Christian families do not need to experience this kind of pain. These actions dishonor our Lord. They bring unnecessary suffering for all, and as I have also experienced in this church, too many people professing Christ are acting this way and are content for some reason to remain in this destructive existence.
My point: the family can be a place of great happiness or severe disappointment depending on how the members choose to live for Christ.
Last week we uncovered the problems in Isaac's family. Their long-awaited child to carry on the promises given to Abraham turns out to be twins. We learn from their time in the womb, these brothers are battling each other.
Esau comes out first. He is the "mans-man" - outdoorsman, driving a pick-up, mounted rifle, NASCAR stickers, listening to Freebird. He's free-spirited and impulsive, acting according to the need of the moment with little personal reflection. Case and point - we saw him trade his birthright for a bowl of stew. He's the fool who chooses temporary pleasures over eternal delight.
This week I ran across an Esau. After prayer meeting I stopped by the gas station to fill up my tank. Two days later Julie mentioned there was a second charge for $8.25. To make a long story short, the attendant used my credit card to buy a pack of cigarettes. That's an Esau move because he was busted, and it most likely cost him his job and possibly more!
Then there is Jacob. Jacob is the "mama's boy" - cardigan sweater, herbal tea, Barry Manilow on his playlist. He's a spoiled brat thinking only about himself. He's the schemer looking for an opportunity to stab someone in the back if it means his own gain through his cunning and deceptive behavior.
And then you have the dysfunctional parents, Isaac and Rebekah who loved to play favorites among the boys. In 25:28 we read, "Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob." That sets the stage for our text this morning, chapter 27.
Sin in the family and the pain it causes hasn't changed a bit since these figures lived about four thousand years ago. I'll provide the solution to all of this, but before we do that, let's walk through Genesis 27 and see where they went wrong and how much it parallels the unnecessary pain resulting from sinful behavior that we are still experiencing in our families today. Some very basic material, but I'm going to keep preaching it until we as a church collectively start practicing it!
Our first sin observed: favoritism. Verses 1-4 of chapter 27, "Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, 'My son.' And he said to him, 'Here I am.' Isaac said, 'Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.'"
So Isaac is about a hundred years old and he thinks he's about to die like a criminal on death row awaiting his final meal. (We'll learn that he still has some more gas in the tank). He wants his favorite meal (remember he had a taste for game - Gen. 25:28) so he calls on his favorite son to deliver.
In the book of James we read that there was a problem with the ushers in the early church. They were giving people the choice seats based on their economic status. This attitude of partiality is condemned in the church. How many of us would be outraged at favoritism in the church, yet it is happening right under our noses with our children no different than in the lives of Isaac and Rebekah.
For example, there is a special favor placed on the firstborn because of the excitement that surrounded your first child or the maturity she has as the oldest when compared to her siblings. There is a special favor placed on the youngest because he needs an advocate as the "baby" of the family. Gender can be a source of favoritism as dads can overly gravitate to their sons and moms to their daughters. Favoritism can also be developed when one child, like Esau, appeals to the interest of a parent - the dad who always wanted to be an athlete and is now living his dreams through his gifted son. Maybe it is the child who everybody loves or is highly successful in school and the parents show greater fondness toward her because of what she contributes to the family's reputation and the parents' esteem as to what they produced. The examples continue…
Your children will smell this behavior instantly!
We learned that Abraham and Sarah played favorites with Ishmael and Isaac. We witnessed Isaac and Rebekah playing favorites with Esau and Jacob. And we'll learn in the weeks ahead when we get to Joseph that Jacob played favorites with his sons as well. Do you see a pattern? It's the generational sins that must be snapped or we'll pass along the same destructive behavior to our family - the continual chain of bitterness, alienation, rejection and man-pleasing attitudes that result from favoritism.
The consequences of parental favoritism are there because it is unbiblical. As Christians we are to take our parenting cues from God our Father. He instructs. We instruct our children like Him. He is patient and forgiving and gentle. We act that way with our children. He disciples in love. We do that as well. And He doesn't play favorites; therefore, neither should we! In His family He accepts and adopts all who come to Him, and He loves them and cares for them and hears them and values them all the same. As the children of God we are all equal in His sight regardless of our gender or age or skin color or wealth or talents.
In addition to favoritism, the second sin of the family is idolatry. I also see this in verses 1-4. The command upon us is simple, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex. 20:3). Anything that we love and depend upon and cherish more than the living God has become our god, an idol in our life. Another way to put it, anything we need to have at the expense of following Scripture has become our god, an idol in our life.
I'm sure all of us have computers and all of us have some form of virus protection on our computer. The protection is continually scanning the computer for malicious programs that affect the computer's health. We too need to perform the same scans on our souls to be sure it is burning brightly for the supremacy of Christ, that He is given the first place He deserves.
So let's scan for idols together. Consider any commandments of God you are breaking and that will lead you to your idols. What makes you angry or bitter or jealous? Are you a complainer or grumbler? It's probably because you are not receiving your idol. Are you not doing what you are supposed to do, but are abusing money or failing in your commitment to the church or not training your children for Christ? It's probably because you are more devoted to your idol. Are you anxious or fearful or depressed or bored or lonely? Those aren't from the Lord so again there are most likely some expectations here and your idol is not coming through. Is anything coming up after performing the scan? Is it time to remove these files and clean up your life so Christ alone will be at home in your heart?
There is no doubt in my mind that Isaac knew the oracle from God given in 25:23 that the older will serve the younger and that Jacob will be given the birthright. Despite clearly knowing God's Word, in an effort to get his food and honor his favored son (two idols in his life), he violates God's Word. Transferring the birthright should have been a family celebration, but what do we see? It's sneaky Isaac behind closed doors taking matters into his own hands. Another scan, as it often is when you need to operate behind everyone's back there, is a good chance you are bowing down to another god.
Let's remember that idols are functional gods that promise the world, satisfaction, excitement, happiness, adventure, but never deliver. They burn us. Then we burn our families. But instead of turning to the true God that can deliver what our heart at its deepest level desires, we exchange one idol for another and begin the same destructive cycle all over again. Idols will bring pain to our families. Even the family if not appropriated correctly can be an idol if it causes us to lose our first love for Jesus.
Another sin in addition to favoritism and idolatry that can destroy families is scheming, our third point. We spoke about this last week, and we see it full blow in today's passage. Jacob was a schemer. Haman in Esther was a schemer. Those in the town of Babel were schemers. Satan is the master of all schemers.
Proverbs 24:8, "One who plans to do evil, men will call a schemer." As the Proverb indicates, scheming involves planning evil. In other words, it's bad enough to do evil, but it's doubly bad when a person invents and plots crafty strategies contrary to Scripture that advance one's cause by bringing harm to another. Such a heart according to Proverbs 12:20 is filled with deceit. Proverbs also calls this "devising evil" (Pr. 6:14; 12:20). The result of scheming according to Proverbs is a lack of peace and strife in the relationships for those associated (Pr. 6:14; 12:20).
It is seen in our dysfunctional family. So how did Jacob become such a good schemer? It appears he learned it from his mother. Look at verse 5. "Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau." While Isaac is discussing his plan with Esau in secret, where is Rebekah? She's right there eavesdropping on the conversation! She knew God's promise that the birthright would be given to Jacob, but instead of trusting the Lord and waiting on the Lord and praying over the matter, she sees the need to take matters into her own hands as if God were unable to fulfill His promises without her diabolical help! And what's her well-thought scheme? To take advantage of her blind husband through deception and manipulation? She's going to get for little "mama's-boy" what she believes God can't deliver!
This is the temptation schemers always fall for. They have their idols and in order to get what they want, they lie and cheat and defraud and flatter and extort through well thought out plans. The bottom line is getting their desire met through whatever means possible. If God works, fine. If I don't believe He'll give me what I want, I'll take matters into my own hands using people as worthless pawns through well-calculated and sinful strategies. Rebekah might have even justified it like this: After all, God did promise Jacob the birthright in the end, so why would the steps that lead up to that end matter? Or, sure it's wrong to deceive my husband, but that is a much lesser sin than Jacob not getting his blessing promised by God.
The ultimate schemer approached our Lord in the wilderness. "Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me" (Mt. 4:8-9). After all, Jesus was promised the entire world anyway. The day will come when every knee will bow. Why wait? Let's skip the bloody and humiliating cross and get right on with the Father's ultimate plan! "Then Jesus said to him, 'Go, Satan! For it is written, ''You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only''" (Mt. 4:10). Why? Because as Christians, every decision, moreover every thought, should be an act of worship. The means matter just as much as the end. God's timetable. God's plans. Our job is simply to be obedient and faithful!
The plan from Rebekah is well-constructed. Jacob will pretend he is Esau. So while Esau is in the field hunting game as requested, she will prepare a couple goats from the pen for Jacob to bring into his father. We'll trick the old blind man into thinking you are Esau and you will get the blessing!
Verses 11-12 - Jacob spots a major problem. "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight [because you are!], and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing." The schemers! Nothing about doing it God's way. It's all about getting what they want for themselves! Even Jacob admits he's acting as a deceiver. That doesn't bother him (or his mother); he just doesn't want to be caught as a deceiver! It is the attitude of, I don't mind sinning if it delivers for me; actually I like it. I just don't want the consequences!
Don't worry, mom has everything under control. It cracks me up how these two schemers are working with each other! What happened to Rebekah from the time we met her in chapter 24? Beginning in verse 13, "But his mother said to him, 'Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice [Jacob is sixty years old and she's saying obey my voice - this guy has yet to grow up - cf. 27:18; 43], and go, get them for me.' So he went and got them [the two goats], 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 [she's still dressing him!]. [Remember, Esau was hairy so here is her plan]. And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands 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" (Gen. 27:13-17).
It goes without saying, but do you see how schemers make horrible parents? "Obey my voice" - how about teaching your child to obey the voice of the Lord! Jacob admits he's acting as a deceiver, but that's OK son if you sin because it's important we see the Lord's will fulfilled and you get the blessing as He promised! What?
So, will Jacob and Rebekah pull off their sinister plan before Big Esau returns from the field and walks in the door with his shotgun? Since disobedience to God's Word always comes with consequences, how will things turn out for Jacob and Rebekah? Eventually Esau will find out, right? How will that affect Esau's relationship with his brother, Jacob? We need to finish this sermon and find answers to these questions in part two, but before we close I need to answer the most important question. How can we honor God in our homes and have a family that demonstrates love toward one another?
My friends, when you mess with idols, they always come back to burn you. The reason is because we were not created for idols. We were created to find our joy and hope and peace and excitement and purpose in God. And when a family is individually right vertically with God they will always be, guaranteed, right horizontally with each other.
All humans are sinners. We have seen it among the members of this family. And when we conclude this sermon we will see that none of them saw God as the solution to their sin problem. Esau will deal with his sin by more sin - he is preparing to kill Jacob! Jacob will deal with his sin by running away. Rebekah will deal with her sin by blame shifting. And Isaac will deal with his sin through passivity, foreshadowing the spiritually deadbeat dads of the twenty-first century. There will be no immediate happy ending because no one is repenting from their sin and turning to the living God! Why the needless pain?
There were people in the first century who had false expectations as it pertained to the Messiah. So they missed Jesus when He came on the scene through skewed favoritism. Many of them were even threatened when Jesus appeared because it meant a loss of their power and freedom, so they erroneously thought. It was their idolatry that kept them from Christ. So they schemed together as to how they might do away with this man, named Jesus. They plotted though betrayal and false witnesses and false loyalty to Rome and drafted up a master plan that would compel even the Pontius Pilate to kill Jesus by way of execution.
Yet while God held them accountable for their heinous sin, God's plan was not foiled by the sin of man. As a matter of fact, it was through their diabolical schemes that His plan was fulfilled. Jesus shed His blood for sinners and rose on the third day proving His victory over sin, death and the devil. He stands ready to forgive all who come to Him in faith. He welcomes all who will forsake their false gods in exchange for the true God. He provides cleansing and purpose and satisfaction. And He provides the power to transform someone to be a person who not only desires His will, but also has the ability to obey His will. Only with Christ can we have functional families that can experience peace and happiness for our joy and His glory.