Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day, "the blessing"

Genesis 28:3 – 4

“The blessing”


Abraham may have been the “father of faith” but he left behind a conflicted family.  Even today, the world’s oldest civil war (Israel v Palestinians) comes from this conflict.  Isaac seeks to preserve the spiritual heritage of Abraham by passing on his blessing.


Between Isaac’s sons looms a dark sibling rivalry that has deepened from the one he’s experienced from his brother.  Even before birth the brothers have competed.  At one point the elder brother has sold his birthright to the younger brother.  This resulted in bitterness between them.


Isaac remembers the hostility from his family.  As his days near an end, he decides to settle the matter between his sons and pass on to them his blessing.  Unfortunately for him and his family, he as played favorites (which is a family curse), and intends to give his blessing according to his desires.


Into this father son conflict, comes a word of wisdom from the son’s mother.  It may seem like she is scheming but she does have a prophecy from the Lord that the older would serve the younger.


What is happening and why?  Let’s take a look at the story…


I.          God blessed Abraham.


A.        God intended something special to happen through Abraham.


1.         I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, [18] and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” [Genesis 22:17 – 18]


2.         This was to be a generational promise.  That would be the foundation for salvation offered through Jesus.


B.        This blessing is inherited spiritually.


1.         “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” [Galatians 3:14]


2.         The Bible does not record Abraham personally handing this down to Isaac.  (It doesn’t mean he did not, but the omission is glaring.)


3.         Isaac’s blessing is handed down personally… (it’s different than Abraham’s blessing)


II.        God blessed Isaac.


            A.        “After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac…” [Genesis 25:11a]


1.         God is said to have blessed people regularly. (Adam and Eve, Noah and his sons, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob… it’s a running thread in Genesis)


2.         This one is special because it distinguished between Ishmael and Isaac.


            B.         It may have been the regular practice of families to bless their children.


1.         “And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, "Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.” [Genesis 24:60]  (Laben blessed his daughters and grandchildren in Genesis 31:55)


2.         Notice the “formula” used in this family: many children and victory over enemies.


III.       The conflict between Jacob and Esau comes to an ugly episode.  [Genesis 27]


            A.        Isaac creates the confusion with his request.


1.         “Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die." [5] Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, [6] Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau.” [27:4 – 6]


a.         Certainly Isaac knew what God had told Rebekah about the two.


“The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.  [23] The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” [Genesis 25:23]


b.         It seemed like Isaac was not listening to God… and had determined to bless Esau.


However, God had another idea: “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: [12] not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." [13] Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” [Romans 9:11 – 13]


2.         Rebekah gives Jacob this advice: “Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: [9] Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. [10] Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” [27:8 – 10]


a.         Rebekah has a plan.  (It is AMAZING she would think of this so quickly or stick so close to Isaac to know the exact moment he intended to pass down the blessing!)


b.         Rebekah’s details include her fixing the food the way Isaac liked, taking Esau’s best clothing, and covering his hands and neck with goat skin.  (Notice this meal included bread. Esau’s did not…)


            B.        Esau regrets his previous actions.


1.         “After Isaac finished blessing him and Jacob had scarcely left his father's presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. . . . When Esau heard his father's words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me--me too, my father!" [35] But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing." [36] Esau said, "Isn't he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he's taken my blessing!" Then he asked, "Haven't you reserved any blessing for me? [27:30, 34 – 36]


                                    a.         It sounds like Isaac can not change his mind, once given.


b.         However, the New Testament tells another story: “Afterward, as you know, when he (Esau) wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.” [Hebrews 12:17]  (In other words, Isaac COULD have changed his mind, but did not…)


                        2.         Regret is not repentance or change and the sibling feud deepens.


a.         Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” [27:41]


b.         Esau becomes the ultimate illustration of “godless,” because he threw away something of eternal value (blessing) for something of this world (food).


“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” [Hebrews 12:16]


IV.       Ultimately Jacob ends up with Abraham’s blessing as well.


A.        Not only does Jacob have Isaac’s blessing but he is also officially given Abraham’s blessing as well.


                        1.         That makes him the “heir” of the promise.


2.         While Esau ended up with the family fortune, Jacob becomes “Israel.”


“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? [37] Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Mark 8:36 – 37]


B.        The bottom line is that the blessing comes from and through a life of faith well lived before our children.


                        1.         You might think you have not accomplished much. 


2.         You feel you are just one link in the chain or a brink in the foundation.


Isaac did not accomplish “much.”  He was not the main character in great faith quests like Abraham, Jacob, or Joseph. 


However, Jacob did do ONE thing that earned him a spot on the list of those who did great things through faith.


By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.” [Hebrews 11:20]


Fathers, if it is the last thing you do… make sure you do this one thing and do it well.  Bless your children.  Point them to faith in Jesus, bless them with the indwelling presence of Jesus, Son of God, Savior!  Very possibly their future and eternal destiny depends on your blessing.

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