Summary: We do not obtain the blessings of God because we deserve them. We obtain them because He loves us and it brings Him glory.
Who Gets Your Blessing?
One of the most dramatically unqualified biblical heroes I can think of is Jacob. He was a liar, a con, a trickster, a fraud. He spent much of his life haunted by bad decisions and exiled to the chaos of self-inflicted consequences. And yet God called him, chose him, and even blessed him.
There is a part of me that has always despised this. There’s a part of me that has often challenged God on this matter, because nothing in the life of Jacob at least early on, actually suggests that he deserved God’s blessing. Yes, he fought for it. I get that. I’ve preached that. But all and all he was unfit and unqualified in my book. But then, I didn’t write the book and as I examine the own flawed body of work that has been my life, I have come to realize my view is rooted in the fact that I have always held Jacob to a different standard than I have held myself. It is because Jacob in many ways defies any amount of reasoning that may suggests that grace can be earned or good deeds can cleanse us. Perhaps what troubles me most is that I would not have saved Jacob. Despite my attempt to love all, partiality at times has overtaken me sometimes causing me to become judgmental; and yet I see a lot of myself in Jacob.
Yet, Jacob ended up playing a major role in God's plan to redeem the world. He emerged simultaneously as one of the most important figures in Scripture and one of the most screwed up. Perhaps you remember last year’s sermon Moving from Luz to Bethel.
If you want to track the story of Jacob you would have to begin in Genesis 25, but to summarize the entire life of a single man in one sermon is impossible so today we’ll hit the footnotes.
Beyond the character flaws I have mentioned we read that Jacob was a twin. He came out clasping the heal of his brother Esau and the two had a sibling rivalry as fierce as any other.
Esau being the oldest twin was set to inherit as a birthright his father Isaac’s estate. Yet when this hairy skilled hunter was malnourished to the point of near death, Jacob manipulated the situation and offered a bowl of lentil soup in exchange for said birthright.
On top of that as Isaac neared death and desired to bless Esau, Jacob conspired with his mother Rebekah in order to take advantage of his father’s blindness and steal Esau’s blessing while Esau was out hunting for his father. Essentially, Jacob went out of his way to ensure he got everything even if it meant his brother Esau got nothing.
Esau would come back from a long hunt eager for his father’s approval, eager for his praise, and especially eager for the blessing he had waited his entire life to receive and Isaac, thanks to Jacob, would shatter Esau’s heart.
(Genesis 27:30-38 NASB) "30 Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me." 32 Isaac his father said to him, "Who are you?" And he said, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." 33 Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, "Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." 34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" 35 And he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing." 36 Then he said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" 37 But Isaac replied to Esau, "Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?" 38 Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." So Esau lifted his voice and wept."