Summary: The Crooked Answer To A Crosseyed Question How Jacob’s Deception Fullfilled God’s promise of Genesis 25:23 Given in response to Rebeka’s Question of Genesis 25:22

There is nothing more disconcerting than a wormy apple to a hungry eye. Some apples look very good on the outside but when you bite into them you discover it’s full of worms. But others are more obvious in their contents. Sometimes you can look at an apple and see through it’s bruises and punctures that it’s full of worms. Tonight’s text is an obviously wormy apple of a passage bound to create more questions and upset stomachs than it cures. The question it answers is simple enough: “How will God fulfill his reversal of the normal and make Jacob the son of blessing rather than Esau to whom the culture said it was due?” The answer we get tonight however is completely opposite from what we may expect.

In a perfect world we might anticipate that God’s prophetic word is accepted from the start and expected throughout life. But in the cold – hard crucible of human nature the practical outworking becomes twisted and overgrown with the messy incertitude of real life. To read the story of Jacob’s deceptive retrieval of his father’s blessing is to stub your sanctimonious toe in the dark corners of the human heart.

Completely without reason we expect to find super saints in the pages of the bible, but the bible is not merely a spiritual treatise exemplifying the holy life. More often than not it contains a negative example that is far more practical and rough and realistic. Life is messy and as a result the bible is messy with the “memory of how faith moves in the rawness of experience.” (Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching, Page 229. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.)

It is the method of transmission here that gives so much heartburn. The promise is transmitted to the younger at the expense of the older. This is in fulfillment of the promises of God (Genesis 25:23) but as we see here is done through distorted and sinful means and questionable motives. So much of what is going on here is unjust that it stands in stark contrast to what we would expect of what is supposed to be a godly family.

But God is not mentioned in this text, he is all but left out of the procedure and that I think is precisely the problem. Because God is left out, the blessing has become a burden. (Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching, Page 227. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.) And despite the conniving of the family members involved, the blessing has it’s way. What surprises me more than anything else about this story is that Esau who does nothing innately wrong is deprived of the blessing; while the deceiving, conniving liar Jacob takes the blessing and waltzes away with it; and this at the hand of his Mother who’s promptings towards dishonesty are not fashioned by mere favoritism for the younger son alone but have their root in the prophetic word of God spoken to Rebekah more than forty years prior! (Genesis 25:23).


1a) It is Divine in origin and effect:

The whole story revolves around this verbal declaration of destiny to be given by the patriarch who believes that in pronouncing this blessing he is invoking as it were the blessing as though he spoke the words of God himself. In other words the patriarch Isaac treats this blessing as if it is the sacred, unshakable and declarative word of God: – a declaration which is fully expected by every member of the family to have lasting and real consequences in no small part because it is assumed by all four members of the family to be a sort of divine contract written to to a specific name but “to the bearer” of the document.

The language of the blessing, the origin and expectation of the blessings efficacy point us towards recognizing that the spoken word is more than merely powerful it has extreme effect. This serves to awaken us to the importance of our daily speech as well as our sacred speech as being that through which God does his work.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

It also serves to warn us that the lasting effects of our words are as important if not more important than the mere moment they are spoken in.

Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

1b) The blessing is a sacred link between generations

The blessing itself is a testimony that the generations are not separated. The younger generations wellbeing depends upon the older generations input. Without it – or if that input is negative the younger generation suffers.

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