Siblings Separated by Sin - Part Two
Scripture: Genesis 27:1–46
Siblings Separated by Sin-Part TwoGenesis 27:1-46
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
I've been told they are extinct, but I refuse to believe the reports. I'm on the look-out for them everywhere I go - the shopping malls, the beach, restaurants and parks. I need to confirm a sighting and then I'll have to believe there is still hope for this once great species that at one time roamed the face of our country.
What I am talking about is the American family. Not two young adults on a date. Not a group of adolescents. Not a couple of seniors. Though good, I'm not even willing to count two young parents with their newborn. What I am looking for is an established family together away from their shelter - spouses that have been married for at least a decade and have teenage children. You never see them out in public, and if you do, which is extremely rare, they appear sickened because nobody seems to be enjoying each other's company.
So why is there so much excitement in our culture over marriage and the addition of new children when years together will only produce disharmony and dislike for one another? Is this what we inevitably have to look forward to? Is the reason established American families are almost all off doing their own thing because they really can't stand each other?
We can easily throw stones at the world, but in my observations I do not think the church is much better. Perhaps we think a passionate relationship with God means I don't need to have a relationship with my spouse. Perhaps we think knowing theological terms is more important that knowing our children. Perhaps we think everything needs to be serious with God to the point where fun in the family is unnecessary or necessarily avoided. Our unspoken message to the world too often is come to Christ as a family and then want nothing to do with each other. Christ can impart forgiveness and patience and kindness and love, but don't bother practicing it with the very people that are most dear to you.
A few weeks ago we began studying chapter 27 in Genesis. The faults of humanity are not whitewashed in the Bible. They were real people struggling with the same situations as us. Oftentimes we can learn from their successes, and oftentimes we can learn from their mistakes. The account of Isaac's family is one of those situations. They were the professed people of God, but the actions in their home resemble too much the den of Satan. Where did they go wrong and what can we learn from their negative example to avoid the same God-dishonoring interpersonal explosiveness that they experienced? We'll briefly review the three landmines from our previous lesson and then we'll conclude with the final three landmines in this lesson.
The first one, by way of review, is favoritism. In verses 1-4 we learned that Isaac, in thinking he was about to die, wanted some food from the field. He loved game and he loved his boy, Esau, whom he knew could deliver it. There is no doubt that dad took special interest in one of his sons over the other. Such actions resulted in bitterness, strife, competition and rejection among the two siblings. Sadly this behavior now modeled before Jacob, a generational sin, continued when he became a father and extended greater favor to his son Joseph which also brought severe disharmony in that family as well.
God doesn't play favorites among His children despite their many external and internal differences and neither should we. Parents, do you have an unconditional love for your children despite what they can offer you and is your heart and time equally divided among them?
Second, by way of review, another landmine we spotted in Isaac's family is idolatry. Idolatry is having anything before God that you love or cherish or think about or depend on more than you do Him. In Colossians 1:18 we are commanded to give Jesus Christ "first place in everything." First place among everything is bad theology. In other words, Jesus Christ is above everything else that I love. It's great to love your husband more than other men, but Jesus must not be embraced from that perspective. Right theology is first place in everything. Jesus is above all things and is honored in the heart of everything we do. In other words, we do all things through Him and for Him (ride a bike, talk to a friend, serve at work, watch a movie, listen to music, play golf, sweep the floor, etc.). With Christ, there is absolutely no division between the sacred and the secular. If there is, we fall into the category of idolatry.
Isaac knew that the birthright was intended by God for Jacob (chapter 25 - "the older shall serve the younger"), but in his love for food and favoritism toward Esau, he disobeyed the clear command of God. So when we find ourselves pursuing idols at the expense of pursuing the commands from God's Word, we are in a dangerous position and will bring unnecessary pain to ourselves and our families.
Family problems? It is not that complicated! Ask yourself if you are pursuing anything contrary to Scripture? An addiction to food or drugs or gambling or pornography or shopping or video games or a person or a hobby that is consuming your first love? The unrepentant heart of a sinful disposition such as bitterness or unforgiveness or selfishness or jealously? An excessive desire for isolation or money or alcohol? These are idols and do you see how these idols prohibit family unity?
The final landmine we covered a few weeks ago is scheming. Scheming is basically the planning to do evil to further one's oftentimes sinful cause at the expense of others despite the harm it may bring them. It is selfish pursuit done through craftiness and deceitful scheming.
Jacob was a schemer. And how did he become such a good schemer? It appears he learned it from his mother, Rebekah. Although the Lord guaranteed the birthright for Jacob, Rebekah through her lack of faith believes she needs to take matters into her own hands. She eavesdrops on her husband (verse 5). She deceives her husband (verse 7). She manipulates her adult son like a puppet (verse 8). She overlooks her son's concern about the sin (verse 12). Like a schemer, her mind is locked onto one thing, and she will steamroll over or sinfully use all the worthless pawns in the way, including God Himself (as we will see), to get what she wants.
Does this attitude make for a harmonious family? Where is the valuing others above yourself? Where is the gentleness and concern and respect and love for each other? Where are all the family members seeing to give Christ first place in everything? Schemers fail to start with a love for God, which leads (as it always does) to a love for idols, which leads to sinful pursuits to get what we want, which results in (as it always does) a dysfunctional home.
So Jacob will pretend he is Esau. While Esau is in the field hunting game as Isaac requested, Rebekah will prepare a couple of goats from the pen for Jacob to bring into his father (verse 9). She will put Esau's clothes on Jacob (verse 15) and the skin of goats on his exposed skin (verse 16). It is a diabolically well-crafted plan for them to get what they want.
We can shake our heads and laugh at the events taking place in this family, but how much of the idolatry and scheming, though it may take another form, is happening right there in our own homes?
Let's move on to the new material with the fourth point - deception.
With the risk of overstating the obvious, I think it's safe to say that Satan hates a family that honors Christ and enjoys being together as the fruit of that relationship. So what Satan does is seek to convince you, as he does the rest of the world, that doing it his way is in your best interest. My friends, the Bible says he is a murderer. We have an epidemic of families in today's church worshipping Satan. It may not be overt, but it's the subtle behaviors and actions that imitate his character - strife, contentions, pride, gossip, impatience, unforgiveness, etc. This is worshipping him because for whatever reason there is a desire to be more like him than like Christ even though you would never admit it. And one of those attributes of his that we tend to emulate is deception. Jesus is "the truth" (Jn. 14:6). Satan is "a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44).
So let's count the times of deception in our narrative as Jacob now approaches his father Isaac. One, verse 18, "Who are you, my son?" Verse 19, "I am Esau your firstborn." Lie, it was Jacob. Two, verse 19, "Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me." Lie, it was goat meat, not game. Three, verse 20, Isaac questions, "How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?" Jacob responds in verse 20, "Because the LORD your God caused it to happen to me." Another lie and in this case even bringing the Lord into his web of deception. Yikes! Four, Jacob dresses up in Esau's clothes and puts hair on the exposed parts of his body to deceive his father in verses 21-23. Five, after feeling the hair on his hands, Isaac asks in verse 24, "Are you really my son Esau?" And Jacob responds, "I am." Six, to be fully convinced, Isaac asks for intimate confirmation. Verse 26, "Please come close and kiss me, my son." In verse 27 Jacob complies in a manner much like the kiss of Judas given to our Savior. Six points of deception! Wow, Jacob managed to deceive his father through taste, sight, touch and smell!
You know, I've seen Christian families disturbed by horrible outside influences such as sickness and poverty and persecution, but with their eyes on Christ, they still maintain wonderful unity and pleasure in their interaction with each other. Listen, family disharmony happens not through outside influences, but by our own choices within. In this case it was Isaac's own idolatrous love for food and a favorite son that brought about this situation. And it was Rebekah and Jacob's love for what was right, but achieved by their idolatrous actions that contributed as well. One had the wrong end in mind and the others had the right end, but pursued the wrong means to achieve that end with a web of deceit covered in layers of deception.
Think of a joyous family and then consider the Proverbs: "Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment" (Pr. 12:19). "A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous" (Pr. 14:25). You want a happy family in Christ, then repent of the deception. The outright lies. The white lies. The partial truths. The exaggerations.
We need to move on with the fifth negative characteristic that can torpedo a family - materialism.
Verse 30 says Jacob "had hardly gone out" before Esau walks into the room. Having prepared the game and expecting the blessing, Esau approaches his father. Verse 32, Isaac is shocked. "Who are you?" He's understandably confused. To the best of his recollection, Esau was just in the room and the blessing which could not be revoked had just been given. Verse 33 informs us that Isaac "trembled violently." Isaac immediately concludes the obvious, verse 35, "Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing." And then verse 34, Esau weeps bitterly, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" Verse 36, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?"
Esau's problem as it is the problem of many Christian families is that his ultimate joys are in the things of the world and not in the things of Christ. Let me show you two reasons why I draw that conclusion.
First, in verse 36 Esau complains Jacob deceived him two times. Not really. Once, just as we witnessed, yes, but the first one was Esau's own doing when he sold his birthright in chapter 26 for a bowl of stew. Hebrews 12:16 calls Esau's actions "immoral" and "godless." The birthright was a special blessing bestowed by God. Esau cared less about the things of God and was primarily attracted to the things that appealed to his carnal senses in this world.
We make the same mistakes today. The things of God: fellowship with believers, Bible reading, church attendance, prayer and evangelism just do not have the same appeal as do a day of recreation, a romance novel, time on Facebook, talking on the phone, sleeping in or watching a movie or a sporting event. My friends, our families do not stay mystically connected to Christ. It takes discipline and dedication in the biblical domains that I just mentioned that have been handed to us. Try to stay neutral and even the supposed good things of the world will pull your family away from Christ. Always ask yourself, where is your heart? It's always found following your treasures. So where are your treasures? Where are you investing your time, your money and your affections? Esau chose the world over Christ. It was modeled very well by his father. It betrayed him and brought devastating consequences.
The second reason I can tell Esau was given to materialism is that he was grieved that he lost his birthright, not because of his relationship to God's blessings, but what it could provide regarding the world's blessings. He wasn't broken in spirit. He wasn't convicted over the way he offended his God. He was only grieved that he now was not going to get the worldly pleasures he desired. The New Testament book of Hebrews even reiterates: "For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears" (Heb. 12:17).
So what does the Christ-honoring, non-materialistic family look like? They invest primarily in the things that will leave this world with them and as a team they are all on this same pursuit. They experience freedom and more time for the things most important because they have limited resources that they need to talk about, clean, repair, rearrange, fret over, and replace when it goes bad. They experience constant joy because the only source of joy they expect is from the Lord. They do not need to have stuff to impress others because the only person they seek to please is the Lord. They have no compelling love for the shadows of the world because their hearts see the true Substance, the beauty of God's marvelous light. Unlike Esau, they have their priorities right: things are to be used and people are to be loved. They are content people following Christ and therefore have a great family because their mutual trust is not in material things which will let us down, but in the One who always delivers.
The landmines: favoritism, idolatry, scheming, deception, materialism and lastly, anger. It goes without saying, but a family given over to anger will not have much joy in the presence of each other. Only four people in this family, but within the span of a few verses we witness the bitter hearts in two of them.
First Esau. Hebrews 12:15 tells us he was bitter. Verse 41 says he "bore a grudge against Jacob." What was the source of his anger? It was the idols of materialism that he set-up in his heart. When he could not achieve the things he coveted, he was discontent and thus angry with all who stood in his way. The number one villain was no doubt Jacob. Instead of being happy for his brother, he sought to (verse 41) kill his brother. Instead of making peace, he demonstrates an attack response in the most dramatic way: "I am going to kill him and that will make me happy again!"
Most of us would not resort to murder in our homes, but we do so in our hearts to people within our home, and our anger resulting in our wants not being met is manifested in dirty looks, arguments, silent treatments, withheld favor, physical violence, revenge, unforgiveness, running away, gossip, and a whole host of ugly sins that go unchecked in our homes.
It also appears bitter Esau also wants to stick his finger in the eye of mom and dad as well. Instead of marrying a wife from among his people, he goes to the Canaanites and takes two Hittites women for his wives (Gen. 26:34). So after this mess in many ways instigated by Rebekah, we see no evidence of her repentance. She is a controller (verse 43-"obey my voice") and things aren't turning out in the way she wanted so she also gets angry. Verse 46, "Rebekah said to Isaac, 'I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth.'" Now it's the Hittite women, the wives Esau took for himself. Again, nobody is taking responsibility. It's everybody's fault but their own. Rebekah has given poor advice, disrespected her husband, whitewashed sin, acted as God to her son and lied, points fingers and I believe doesn't have the self-awareness to see that the problem of this dysfunctional family possibly starts with her! Her biggest problem is not the Hittite women in her life! After all, you can have some mercy on Esau - would he want to marry a person that claimed to worship the same God as his parents?
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 (jealous, anger, murder). Jacob will deal with his sin by running away (the schemer was later deceived by Laban - Gen. 29:26 and then his sons - Gen. 37:31). Rebekah will deal with her sin by blame shifting. She will never see her beloved Jacob again. And Isaac will deal with his sin through passivity.
Godless decisions that led to painful family disharmony that could have been avoided. The family always acted in isolation from each other. Would you expect to see this family having fun together, out for pizza and a round of mini golf?
This is a family plagued with sin. It does not surprise me. We are all born in sin. The first word a child learns in "no" and the second one is "mine." As adults we just never grow up and we bring this selfishness into our homes. This is the natural result. It is sad, but it is expected.
What is unexpected is when a Christian family acts this way. We are not perfect, but with Christ we can recognize sin and repent and be forgiven and forgive others and grow spiritually and thus be a testimony to God's transforming power and enjoy each other's company.
If you are not a Christian, you need to give your life to Christ right now by faith. Though Jesus deserved blessings, He didn't crave them like our two sinful brothers, but accepted the wrath that sinners deserved. Only He can save you from hell and only He and break you of selfishness and satanic attitudes and deliver you to peace and joy which can bless your life and also your home.