Only a God of Grace - Genesis 27:30–28:9

November 13, 2022 Preacher: Rev. Stacey Severance Series: Genesis

Scripture: Genesis 27:30– 28:9

 

My wife and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary, and that’s always a fun time to reflect on when and how we first met. We were introduced to one another by a mutual friend. Actually at first, we were introduced over the phone, and then, because she lived in the same apartment complex that I did at that time, I decided to make a special trip to introduce myself to her in person. It turned out to be a very good decision.

When we began Genesis in September 2021, the title of the first sermon was “Introducing God.” There is no greater theme of the Scriptures than revealing who God is. Even in these events in Gen. 27-28, where God’s specific actions are not described, we are still learning about what God values and how He works in the world. 

The original audience of Genesis - the ancient Israelite people - were learning these things as Moses wrote them down by the direction of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater question than, “Who is God?” How you answer the question affects your whole life, even in ways that you may not realize. 

In the gospels of the NT, we read various stories that Jesus told, which were meant to push people’s buttons and challenge what they believed about God. For instance, Jesus tells a story about a man with two sons: one very responsible and the other very foolish.

The foolish son asks for his inheritance before his father even dies, and the son leaves home to party, wasting all the money. Eventually he hits rock bottom and decides ask his father if he can return as a servant; but instead, the father graciously receives the son and throws a party to celebrate his return. 

However, the very responsible son (the “good” son) is disgusted that his father would receive his brother so graciously. And the responsible son does have a point, doesn’t he? It’s not fair to just let the other son come back and be a son again, is it? He didn’t earn that.

Jesus told another story about a man who hired many workers to labor in his vineyard. Some started early in the morning, but the owner continued to hire throughout the day. At the end of the day, those who had been working longer expected to get more money. But the owner paid everyone the same amount, even those who got on just before quitting time. 

When those who had worked all day began to grumble, the owner said, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you resent my generosity?” Again, the workers had a point, didn’t they? You work longer, you earn more. 

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like this vineyard scenario. And the kingdom is like the situation with the father and his two sons. Conventional wisdom says, “You get what you earn; you get what you deserve.” But these situations seem to fly in the face of that. Jesus is telling us something different when it comes to knowing God and being blessed by Him And yet this really wasn’t new information about God. God didn’t just start being this way when Jesus came to earth. He was always this kind of God. The life of Jacob demonstrates that.  

God does not treat Jacob fairly as we naturally determine fairness. Jacob lies to his father and deceives him. He goes behind his brother’s back, cheating him and stealing from him. Jacob is a guilty sinner, but he will get away with what he has done. 

What kind of God would allow this? That’s what we’re going to look at today. Notice the outline on page 7 in the WG. Only a God of grace upholds an undeserved blessing, provides a merciful escape, and confirms a promising future for guilty sinners.

This should comfort us and humble us, but also, we need to consider how this bumps up against how we think God looks at us and how we look at others. Do you rest in the freedom and the peace of God’s grace, and do you extend it to others?

So, Jacob secures the blessing from Isaac, and as soon as he’s gone, Esau walks in. Esau has the food he hunted and prepared; he announces that he has arrived to get the blessing. And Isaac replies, “Who are you?” Isaac thinks he just blessed Esau, but that was Jacob. 

And when Isaac says he has already done the blessing ritual, Esau flips, verse [34], As soon as 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] But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.”

While it is true that in God’s plan of election, the blessing was for Jacob, this was not right. But Jacob lived up to his name, verse [36] Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” 

In ancient Hebrew, “Jacob” means “usurper” or “cheater.” And the blessing must stand. Isaac understands that God has directed this; that’s why he’s not angry toward Jacob and by faith, he upholds the blessing. Esau pleads, but it does no good. 

Now, Esau had obeyed his father. And Isaac does speak over Esau in a similar way, but what he says is more or less the antithesis of the blessing to Jacob. The things in verses 39-40 are the opposite of blessing, the opposite of plenty and authority. 

Later on in history, the descendants of Jacob and Esau would be in conflict. Jacob’s descendants would have the upper hand, but at times, Esau’s descendants would break free of their dominion. These words of Isaac foretell that. Clearly, no one is squeaky clean here. 

But God is going to uphold an undeserved blessing for a guilty sinner. Why? Because the choosing of Jacob had nothing to do with Jacob. He didn’t earn it in any way; in fact, you might think that this behavior would disqualify him.

What about the eighth commandment? You shall not steal. Of course, this predated the giving of the Ten commandments, but stealing was against God’s moral law before it was written down. Jacob knew it was wrong. That’s why he was concerned about the penalty if he got caught.

We understand from Scripture that the moral law is written on the human heart by God. Jacob broke that law, but the blessing will stand. The blessing to Jacob is God’s will. Why? Because Jacob is reaping the benefit of God’s covenant of grace. This covenant became clearer with Noah, then Abraham and so on, and then fully with Jesus. 

In Romans 5 in the NT, the apostle Paul writes that through Jesus, “we have…obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God initiates His covenant of grace with guilty sinners. Fairness as we naturally think of it doesn’t play into God’s pursuit of us or His love for us. Jacob receives a blessing that he certainly doesn’t deserve.

How does that make you feel? I know this is an ancient event and far removed from our reality. Also, it’s not personal for any of us. But what about in a situation that is personal? What about when you see someone succeed who you feel doesn’t deserve it? Do you get all twisted inside by jealousy or anger? And you see their sins so clearly, but you conveniently minimize your own.

Let me tell you about a trap that waits for each one of you: it is the belief that though God saved you by grace alone, now you live a pretty good life and you earn the blessings you get. But when you inevitably experience something contrary to that belief, you will begin to fall apart. What comes naturally to us is to begin with grace but then drift back to works-righteousness. But God gives many reminders. Let’s look at this next part. 

Esau plots revenge. It would have demonstrated faith if he would have accepted the results. Even asking his father to bless him also was essentially asking Isaac to circumvent God’s plan. Esau’s tears in the previous verses are not the result of true repentance or godly sorrow. Hebrews 12 in the NT even states that “when [Esau] desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” 

Isaac, on the other hand, accepts the results by faith. And with no true repentance in his heart, Esau determines to kill Jacob. But Rebekah hears of it and she goes to planning again. She works to get Jacob to safety. Notice what she says to Jacob halfway through verse 45, “Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” If Esau did kill Jacob, he would forfeit his own life as well. 

But this is interesting - Rebekah doesn’t sneak Jacob out during the night. She laments to her husband that Jacob must not marry a Hittite woman, as Esau has done. And she makes a legitimate point. They were not to marry from the native people there, because God was going to give that land to Abraham’s descendants. So Isaac sends Jacob away safely, in plain sight. He will go to the relatives of his mother to find a wife. This is deliverance for Jacob. 

He’s getting away with it! God really is going to allow an escape for this deceiver. Does this mean that God approves of lying and stealing? No. It demonstrates that God is gracious and merciful toward those He means to save. God can produce good even from your failures, and He can deliver you from them. 

1 Thessalonians 1 in the NT says that “Jesus…delivers us from the wrath to come.” The wrath for sinners. And Ephesians 2 that we are “by nature children of wrath.” “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Only a God of grace would provide a merciful escape for guilty sinners.

How does this make you feel? Let me point out also, Jacob hasn’t shown any remorse yet. In fact, scholars point out that he hasn’t proclaimed Yahweh as his God yet. He hasn’t had his conversion, so to speak. But already, God is at work in His life. 

You really never know just what God might be doing in someone’s life. On what kind of path does God have that person?  How might God be revealing Himself to them? God provides guilty sinners with a merciful escape from sin and death. God arranges deliverance for people who don’t deserve it.  

Shouldn’t we desire a merciful escape for sinners as well? Where would you be without God’s merciful plan of escape for you? I think of the classic scene in so many movies when a character narrowly escapes and they stop to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Worship should be like that!

Now these final verses look toward the future for Jacob. Isaac approves Jacob’s journey back to where Rebekah is from. And now Isaac reiterates the blessing and he expands on it. Look at verse [3], he says to Jacob, “God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. [4] May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!” This is the language of God’s covenant of grace. 

Back in Genesis 17, God further described what He would do for the descendants of Abraham in the covenant. God says, “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” God says, “I will be their God.” 

Isaac is truly passing the baton. He’s very old; he doesn’t know if he will see Jacob again. The principle here is described more clearly later on in Deuteronomy 7, where Moses tells the Israelites, “The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession…It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers.” Because of God’s choice, He will be Jacob’s God, and for the offspring of Abraham, for all guilty sinners saved by grace, a promising future awaits.

This is even further clarified in Titus 3 in the NT, where Paul writes, “We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” 

There is a promising future for guilty sinners, which only a God of grace could provide. This is who God is; this is what He does. How does it make you feel? Blessing and escape and a future for the guilty. 

We live in a world where there are consequences for actions, and rightly so. But do you understand that those saved by grace don’t function in a covenant of works with God anymore?

That’s what Paul means when he says that we are no longer “under the law.” We don’t obey God’s moral law to be justified or to avoid being condemned. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Instead, the moral law for us is what the Westminster Confession of Faith refers to as “a rule of life.” God’s moral law shows us the best way to live, but we don’t improve our salvation by keeping it. 

We don’t position God to own us something by keeping it.

We don’t get back into God’s good graces by keeping it.

We don’t get out of the doghouse with God by keeping it.

Those who are adopted into the family of God through union with Jesus Christ never stop being beloved sons and daughters of God. Because, you see, grace secured that union. Is this your hope and your peace today? As we go to the table this morning, let that truth fill your heart and mind and soul.

Let’s bow in prayer.



More in Genesis

November 27, 2022

By God’s Estimation - Genesis 29:1-30

November 20, 2022

Pathway to Blessing - Genesis 28:6–22

November 6, 2022

Driven by Love