Summary: Although Jacob got what he wanted as a result of his sinful conniving, he lost what he had. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding!
While You Were Out is the kind of reality TV show most people wouldn’t mind being a part of. In this program, work crews come to your house and renovate a room or two unbeknownst to you while you are out on a mini-vacation. When you return, you come home to a newly renovated kitchen or living room at no cost or inconvenience to you!
The “Jake TV” version of While You Were Out is a little different. Esau stepped out expecting to come home to a blessing that would give him the majority of his father’s inheritance. By the time he returned, however, his younger brother Jacob had scooped up that blessing through sinful conniving. Although Jacob got what he wanted, he lost what he had (Johnny Campbell) because he failed to rely on God to give him the promised blessing. The theme of today’s episode can be best summarized by a verse from Proverbs: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Let’s find out from Jacob’s painful experience why this passage is one we’ll want to take to heart.
Our story begins with the 137 year-old Isaac feeling his age. Isaac thought death imminent so he called in Esau, his favorite son, and told him to go hunting one last time for his old dad. Isaac promised that when Esau returned, he would give him the blessing of the firstborn. Now as we know from the last two episodes of “Jake TV,” God had promised to give that blessing to Jacob, not Esau. Isaac knew this but chose to go head to head with God by promising to give this blessing to Esau. Esau wasn’t innocent in the matter either. He had already sworn to give Jacob the birthright when he sold it for a bowl of stew. Apparently Esau didn’t think much about keeping the promises he made.
While we may not be surprised at Esau’s willingness to obtain something he had already promised to give away, we may wonder how a famous believer like Isaac thought he could get away with going directly against God’s Word. But don’t we often do the same? When Satan gets us to question God’s authority we often end up convincing ourselves that sin isn’t really sinful? Take cheating on a test for example. I remember trying to convince myself that cheating wasn’t wrong. After all, there is no commandment that says: “Thou shalt not cheat on tests!” And looking at a neighbor’s test for answers isn’t really cheating is it? Not if you’ve studied and know the answer but just can’t think of it at the moment. It’s more like getting help than cheating, right? Wrong! Cheating, no matter what form it takes or what the circumstance, is a sin because we are stealing answers from another person and then lying when we claim those answers to be our own. Friends, when we start to excuse actions the Bible says are wrong, we need to recognize that this is Satan and our sinful nature’s doing. We won’t want to just acknowledge this but repent for trying to excuse a behavior or attitude God says is wrong.
Although Isaac and Esau don’t come off very well in this story, neither do Rebekah and Jacob. Rebekah overheard what her husband Isaac had said to Esau and she leapt into action. She told Jacob to bring her two young goats that she would prepare for his father. Then Rebekah dressed Jacob in an old hunting shirt of Esau’s and told him to go serve his father the meal she had made. The plan was for Jacob to claim he was Esau and secure the blessing that should have been his anyway. Jacob was unsure of the plan, however. He wasn’t squeamish about lying to his father; he just didn’t want to get caught. In response to her son’s qualms, Rebekah put goatskins on his hands and neck so that if Isaac should grasp the boy, he would think it was hairy Esau and not the baby-faced Jacob.
The scheme almost unravelled at once. When Jacob stepped into his father’s room he was asked to identify himself. In his best Esau-voice Jacob claimed to be his older brother but Isaac wasn’t convinced. He was surprised that “Esau” should be back from hunting so soon. It was as if “Esau” had just gone out to the pen behind the barn and bagged a couple of the goats there! To cover his tracks Jacob lied again, this time he even brought God’s name into it. Jacob claimed to be so quick in the hunt because God had given him success. So far Jacob was guilty of breaking the 4th Commandment when he dishonored his father by lying to him, and breaking the 2nd Commandment when he blasphemed God’s name by using it to cover up another untruth. We could also add that from the very beginning of the scheme Jacob was guilty of breaking the 1st Commandment. Instead of trusting that God would grant him the birthright in his own time and in his own way, Jacob, together with his mother, thought they had to take matters into their own hands.