Coming To Our Senses - Genesis 26:34–27:17

October 23, 2022 Preacher: Rev. Stacey Severance Series: Genesis

Scripture: Genesis 26:34– 27:17

Some of you may remember a desktop computer background used by Microsoft Windows XP. It was a picture of a green hill and blue sky with clouds. Do you remember seeing that? Did you know that was an actual photograph? The picture was taken in the California Wine Country, Napa Valley. The name of the photo is “Bliss.”

A Microsoft rep said the picture was chosen because it illustrated what Microsoft wanted to provide customers: freedom, possibility, calmness, warmth.  It is so widely recognized that it may be one of the most viewed photographs of all time. It’s a picturesque scene. 

But, of course, that scene isn’t everyone’s idea of “bliss.” Now you can put your own picture on your screen. Maybe the beach, maybe the mountains. I’m sure you have an ideal scene.

Isaac and Rebekah each had a picture in their minds of the ideal scene. It was what they pictured for their family; but their pictures were not the same. Their sons, Jacob and Esau, also had pictures in their minds of their ideal future, but those pictures were not the same. In fact, those pictures were in conflict.

When what a person pictures is jeopardized, bad judgment naturally takes over. We sometimes say that a person who then makes a foolish decision has “lost their senses.” As these events unfold in Genesis, this whole family loses their senses to some degree. And this is no ordinary family. They are the covenant family through whom God’s redemptive plan will move forward! And yet somehow God is able to overcome their foolish decisions to fulfill His plan.

All of us are prone to losing our senses when what we want is in jeopardy. We say or do things that we shouldn’t, or we neglect to say or do what we should. Even believers in Jesus Christ are prone to this, especially when it comes to what we love most. We can be stubborn, or manipulative. We can be rash. We can panic. And we make a real mess of things.

But God, because of His great love for us, sent Jesus Christ into the mess we’ve made, and from within the wreckage, God is able to produce something good and whole for us. God is able to display His glory. Jesus is our hope that God has and will continue to overcome our foolishness; Jesus is our hope that God has not forsaken His good plan for our lives.

Today’s passage in Genesis looks at what God has overcome to fulfill His plans for us. What has God overcome? Many things, but two things in particular that you can see listed on page 6 in the WG: our spiritual blindness and spiritual deafness. God is able to work with and even through our poor choices. So let’s look at these together.

Moses now returns to Esau and Jacob. Verse 34 says that at age 40, an age at which a man should have some wisdom and sense of values, Esau marries not one but two Hittite women. This is a problem. First, these are women from the Canaanites, and the descendants of Abraham were not to marry those women. They worshiped false gods, and God was going to take the land from the Canaanites and give it to Abraham’s people. Second, Esau becomes a polygamist. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. 

All of this demonstrates who Esau has become. And notice verse [35], “they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.” There is some kind of animosity there. This is not Isaac and Rebekah’s blissful scene they pictured! This is not what they wanted! 

But as bad as that was, what happened next is worse. Isaac doesn’t seem willing or able to read the writing on the wall about Esau. Back in chapter 25, Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a simple meal. The birthright entitled him to certain privileges as the firstborn. Selling it revealed Esau’s careless attitude toward the covenant promises of God.

Jacob and Esau were twins; Esau emerged from the womb first, but God told Rebekah that Esau (technically the older) would be subject to Jacob (technically the younger). It seems unlikely that Isaac would not know that Esau had sold his birthright or that God had said these words to Rebekah. 

And so Isaac acts foolishly here.It’s poor spiritual leadership of the family. Look at verse [1] “When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son.” Moses does not call Esau the “first-born.” Esau had resigned that privilege. But Isaac calls Esau that he may pass to him the covenant blessing. 

We know that Isaac favored Esau. Esau was the rugged outdoorsman. Isaac admired that. Esau could hunt down wild game to show his strength and feed many people, and Isaac liked that very much. Isaac wanted Esau to be the guy. He wanted Esau to be the chosen one, like himself. He was losing his sight. He was 100 years old at this point. His body is feeble, and his mind was likely feeble as well. 

But when it came to Esau, Isaac had another infirmity. He only saw what he wanted to see. His physical blindness is actually symbolic of his spiritual blindness. Isaac is either unable or unwilling to see God’s will. 

The Scriptures of both OT and NT describe this phenomenon of being spiritually blind. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel speak of those who have eyes but cannot see. Jesus later quotes Isaiah; Acts and Romans refer to this as well. This is the inability to see with the heart what is true. 

If you believe in Jesus Christ, you might say, “Well, yes, non-believers are spiritually blind. They need Jesus to open their eyes.” True. But you who claim to be born-again, do you ever see only what you want to see? Sure you do. We all do. We are so committed to a blissful scene in our minds that we either knowingly or unknowingly reject what is true. On one hand, Isaac was a man, a normal man in so many ways. On the other, he was chosen by God for something very special. And here his actions reveal a divided heart. 

So he lays out the plan, verse [3] Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, [4] and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” This is not right. Esau is not the covenant heir. The promises are in jeopardy, and yet we know that God overcame this. The ancient Israelites, who first heard this from Moses, knew that God had overcome this. They knew that they were the people of Abraham, Isaac, and — Jacob.

Do you think that God cannot accomplish His plans in spite of our sin? Well, He can. Do you think as a follower of Jesus that you could never possess a severe blindspot leading to foolish decisions? Well, you can. But do you think that your blindspots and your bad judgments could ruin your life beyond God’s power to restore it? Well they can’t.

God loves you with an everlasting love. He is so powerful and so in control of all things that He can even overcome the results of our spiritual blindness!

Isaac makes an obvious mistake; his wife Rebekah is about to make a more ambiguous one. Her actions, and the actions of Jacob, could be labeled “The end justifies the means.” Notice verse [5] Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. She does not like what she hears. She knows the blessing must go to Jacob. 

And what she does next is very curious. She doesn’t confront Isaac. She doesn’t speak to him. She doesn’t speak to Esau. She doesn’t get her family together and cry out for what is right. Rebekah has heard enough to make up her mind. She feels that deception is the only way. 

And she reveals that her spiritual senses are impaired also. She relays the event to Jacob, but notice what she adds that Isaac did not say, verse [6] Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, [7] ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die,” literally, “in the presence of Yahweh before I die.” She is selling this deception to Jacob. She plans to trick Isaac into blessing Jacob while thinking that he is blessing Esau. 

Now, Jacob is the rightful heir of the covenant. Wouldn’t it be great if he said, “Mother, we can’t do that. We can’t willingly deceive my father. What will be the outcome of that?” But Jacob doesn’t say that. He doesn’t question the morality of the plan, only the effectiveness of it, verse [11] But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. [12] Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” It’s all very pragmatic. 

The end justifies the means. It’s the result that matters. Jacob seems less worried about doing wrong and more worried about being cursed; however, notice verse [13] again, “His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” So they proceed with the plan. 

What should we make of Rebekah’s actions? After all, she had God’s covenant promise in mind. 16th century pastor and scholar John Calvin is helpful here. He points out that Rebekah’s “faith was mixed with an unjust and immoderate zeal.” Her passion was admirable, but her methods were faulty. 

And Calvin notes the warning for all of us in this. He says, “This is to be carefully observed in order that we may understand that a pure and distinct knowledge does not always so illuminate the minds” even of those who know and fear God. Even those who believe in the covenant God are not always “governed in all their actions by the Holy Spirit.” Calvin says that even believers who “hold a right course, and are tending towards the goal” will “occasionally slide.” 

We know this to be the case. We see it in our own lives. Isaac and Rebekah had faith, but they are “off” here. Isaac displayed a certain spiritual blindness; Rebekah, a certain spiritual deafness. She was so stuck on the end result that she feels deceit is necessary. Rebekah, like Isaac, was out of sync with the ways of God. Even if this plan worked, what further division would result in her family? What further animosity between her sons? It’s a real mess. 

But I want to read you one more short statement from Calvin’s analyst of Isaac and Rebekah’s actions. He says that though God’s people will occasionally slide, as they did here, “nevertheless, the election of God stood firm; God even executed his design through the deceit of a woman” and by doing this, God brings glory to His “own gratuitous goodness.” God brings glory to His gracious goodness through their foolish decisions. 

Look at this dysfunctional family. How generous is God’s love and how free is His grace that He would continue to move His redemptive plan forward through these people? Look at their ways! Look at what they’ve become! They are a house divided. They’ve lost their senses. And yet we know that God will bring His gracious plans to fruition. Through this family, Jesus Christ would eventually come into the world to fulfill every covenant promise made to Abraham!

Is this the God you know, and worship, and serve? The God who loved you before you turned from your sin; the God who loves you still, though you are sometimes blind or deaf to what is true and right. The God who, though your vision is cloudy, and your ears seems to be clogged,

He remains faithful to you, gracious toward you, and patient with you, guiding your life. These are the ways of the one true God. It’s actually through circumstances like these in Genesis 27 that God brought the Savior into the world. The foolishness of people could not prevent God from accomplishing His plan. 

And there is so much hope for us in this truth. In Jesus Christ and His gospel we have the sure hope that God has overcome the world, and we know beyond a shadow of doubt that God loves us, He is for us, He bears with us, He listens to us and cares for us, and He will keep us to the end.

God brings us to our senses. How? It’s very simple. Do you see Jesus today? Do you hear Him speaking? Come to Him in faith. Come to Him who has overcome sin and even death. 

Let’s bow in prayer.