Have you ever caught yourself saying these words? When you were younger you probably said these words over petty things like not getting chosen for the part you wanted in the fourth grade play or not getting the playing time you wanted in high school. But now, as you've gotten older you probably have said these words over a gut wrenching ordeal. Maybe a loved one with cancer, the loss of job in these tough economic times, or strife with a family member that you just can't seem to resolve. Today we are going to look at Genesis 27:1-40, the story of Jacob deceiving Isaac to get Esau's birthright. This example of life not being fair will lead us to a better understanding of who God is when life isn't fair.
As you read this story, if you're like me you probably have really only paid attention to Jacob. And then when you finally do read about Esau, you have compassion on him and therefore, justify his response. But today I'd like to walk thru the story again and focus on Esau. At the beginning we see that Jacob is Rebekah's favorite, and Esau is Jacob's favorite. Now Esau, because he is the older twin, was by custom supposed to get the birthright and the blessing. At this point in the story, Jacob has already weasled his way to getting the birthright, and today's passage reveals how he and his mother use deception to get him the blessing also. Read thru the passage and watch Esau's response beginning in verse 34. Esau has just found out that Jacob has taken his blessing and he responds with the following:
v34: “Bless me–me too, my father!”
36: “Isn't he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, nd now he's taken my blessing!…Haven't you reserved any blessing for me?”
38: “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.
As you read his response you realize that in Esau's mind, Jacob was in control of this situation. Esau's losing his blessing was a big deal. I'm not down playing that…but his understanding of who God is in this loss determines his reponse. Esau has not yet come to the full understanding that God is God Most High. And as we read the rest of story of Esau we realize that he never comes to this understanding. But as you and I read this story, we can see God's hand at work. Let's look at this story through the lens of God as God Most High.
In an early blog and in the OT Home study we looked at a couple of names of God including the one mentioned above: “God Most High.” In our home study we really dug into this and looked at supporting verses. And came to an understanding that God Most High is the one who “gives and takes away” as the popular song says. Knowing this attribute of God makes this passage really come to life. If you look back at the birth of Jacob and Esau, God told Rebekah that Esau (the older brother) would serve Jacob, and that Jacob would be the stronger nation. Knowing that God has already decided this, makes this story read a little differently. With this prior knowledge you realize that Jacob was deceiving his father, but he wasn't deceiving God. And he definitely wasn't catching God off guard. God knew that this would happen and allowed it as part of His bigger plan for the salvation of man. Maybe the idea that God is in control of this story even though Esau gets the short end of the stick ticks you off because you see how unfair it is that through lying Jacob “wins.” But I see it as a huge comfort. Knowing that God is in control, and that even when bad things happen God knows and has His hand on all things brings peace to my life. Knowing this means that my life is not in the hands of a drunk driver or a random thief or a cheater in the work place. But my life is held in the hands of God. Kay Arthur talks about, in her book “Refined as Silver,” how God sifts everything through His all-knowing and all-loving hands. He knows what will make us look more like Him and what will bring Him the most glory in the end. So we don't have to worry about our lives. The trials we face God knows about and has allowed. We often don't understand the “why” but knowing He is still in control and He is still on the throne will allow us to rest in Him. This doesn't necessarily make the trial less painful, but we can rest in the fact that God sees and God knows. Melissa Greene has an amazing song on her new album, “Next Step” called “Jody's Song.” This song was written as a loved one died an early death to cancer. In the chorus she sings, “I can choose to ask why, I can choose to be angry, I can wrestle when life is not what I thought it would be. I can wish that all the pain would simply go away. At the same time I can choose, Lord to trust You.” This song does an amazing job of being real with the questions we ask of God when life really gets tough. And it also does an amazing job of showing us the option we have of trusting that God is who He says He is.
God is God Most High. He holds your life in the palm of His hands. And we do have the choice to be angry when things don't go our way, but we also have the choice to trust Him.