Monday, December 10, 2007

Humanity In Sin Part 34 - Jacob Gets Isaac's Blessings

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 11th November 2007 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Some Sharing On Reformed Movement:

During the renaissance, people believed that the ancient accomplishment by the Greek and Roman empire was the most glorious. And they felt that Christianity had brought about a decline in culture. So they emphasized that culture needed to be reborn. But Christianity believes that man should be reborn. When we are reborn, we have a new life. But when we have revolution, many people will die.

Looking at the Greek art and academic thought, people wanted a rebirth of culture. But they relied on human reason as the truth to understand all things. They cast aside revelation and aimed on pragmatism, so eternity and heaven were thrown aside. The Scripture’s promises were all set aside. Although many giants during the renaissaince itself were Christians who tried to bring together God’s revelation and human culture, people were not able to differentiate them.

The 16th century Reformation is the only culture that is Bible-centered in the entire history of mankind. It is the movement that is most blessed by God as it is most in line with God’s eternal will and pleasing to God. It established most important principles, that are to be based on the Scripture, only by grace, only through faith. It relied on Christ alone and to the glory of God alone. Afterwards, the Enlightenment came about where people thought they have matured and presumed on reason as the ultimate authority to judge all things.

We need to return to the faith that is based on the Word of God. This is the only way we can maintain the faith God has given us. We need to learn to look at the lifestyle of men from the throne of God and His Word. We have to use very strict principles of God based on His revelation to see what He has to say about our lifestyle. In this way, our lifestyle is built upon the Word of God. The sovereign will of God will get rid of people who are arrogant, while continuing to draw more people towards His kingdom.

Continuing on Genesis:

Passage: Genesis 27:1-40

In business environment, it seems that those who can lie will be more successful while those who are honest will lose out. Yet, in parental education, parents ask the children not to fight and to be good, but keep seeing that those who conquer are those who are crafty. People tell children not to tell lies but often times the dishonest ones earn a lot of money while the honest ones almost have nothing to eat.

So is the content of this education useless? Does that mean we cannot make money if we are honest? Does God bless a person who gets what he wants in dishonest way? Does God bless us in secondary manner when we are honest?

On surface, this passage raises a lot of difficult questions. But we ought to understand that before this chapter, there were already problems among Esau, Jacob and Isaac.

When Isaac was old, he could not see clearly anymore and he thought he would die soon. When we start to lose our sight and know that we have not many days left, we will remember things we ought to have done but we have not done. And we would want to set aside some time to prioritize what we need to do. But our spirituality will determine our priority. What are our priorities in life? The book “First things First” contains some wisdom regarding the importance of order. When time gets lesser and tighter especially, more proportionally we need to link the two together. The opportunity will not return and wisdom comes when we are able to grab the most important thing in an important instance.

If we spend a lot of time doing foolish things, we are really foolish. But if within a short time we can get hold of very important things, we are wise. But Isaac lacked such training. He was a man with a peaceful life. He was a man who was not willing to live a life full of challenges. Many people are like that. They prefer a life with no risk, no conflictand full of harmony.

When Isaac thought he was going to die, the first thing in his mind was to ask Esau to cook good food. So the most important thing in his life is food. The life of Isaac in the end was so simple. He wanted to eat good food before he died. Esau obeyed and went. Esau was an obedient child. If a child is obedient blindly, it is not a good thing. Also, a good leader is not a person who just wants others to obey him. If a person just wants to flow smoothly with time, how could he face difficult challenges in life?

When we think our lives are ending, is it really ending? Often times our feelings and actions are often different from reality. Isaac thought he was going to die and he was 100 years old then. But Isaac actually did not die until 80 years later.

For his own selfishness he gave a command to his son. The principle of education is such that it should not done for parents’ own good. If we teach our children in manner beneficial to us, it is not education anymore but it is taking advantage of our kids. Often mothers hit their kids because they interfere with their lives. If we punish our children out of frustration, it is not education but vengeance. It is done to solve our own problems and not theirs. So in the matter of parental education, Isaac had failed. He was a glutton and all he commanded was based on his own selfishness.

Scripture said Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob. When we fight for our own benefit, we cannot be blessed by the truth. Often times, great men and women fail on trivial things. The greatest among us often cannot overcome small things in life. In fact, if Isaac had rejected temptation of gluttony that day, his favorite son would not have had ended with the tragedy of having secondary blessings. If we do not prioritize properly, if we are not able to see what is primary and what is secondary, God will allow us to lose the most valuable things in life.

Esau lost his blessings but Jacob received it although it was not his earlier. Jacob was a man of ambition who would take the opportunity to obtain blessings when he had the chance. We cannot say God blesses the deceitful. Rather, in this matter, God allowed His blessings to go from people who ignore the blessings to those who truly value them.

Rebekah knew all Isaac’s plan. When Esau left to hunt, she knew it would take quite some time before he came back. She wanted to take this opportunity to let Jacob get the blessings. Here the mother used her authority to force the child to be obedient. The child was curious why the mother asked him to do what was not right. God will punish mothers who taught children wrongly. She deceived her husband with food and taught the child to lie.

Abraham lied and Isaac followed his father’s example and lied. And Rebekah followed her husband’s example and lied. Then she taught the son to do the same thing. So the spirit of lies was passed down from generation to generation. The first time we lie we remember the fear. But repeat lies shear our conscience. Do not brag on experience just because you have gone through long passage of time. You may be experienced in making the same mistakes for 20 years.

Jacob took the blessings as God preserved the authority of the leader. Everything Isaac said could not be taken back. We need to be respectful of our own status and authority or else the younger generation will despise us and fall because of us.

Jacob was deceived by his mother and afterward he became very bold in deception. He was already born with a deceptive personality. He took opportunity to use his stew to snatch the status of the firstborn. He was not clean in his dealing in the first place. On the other hand, God despises those who sell their firstborn rights. Last time it was not his scheme to deceive Esau but it just happened that he had cooked and his brother came along asking for his stew. But this time his mother taught him to do anything to get what he wanted.

Esau came back wanting God’s blessing. Esau did not value the status, but just wanted the blessings that came with it. But the father said he could not take the blessing back. If we ignore important principles of life when we are given, we will be at a loss later on. If we let go of opportunities when they are here, when difficulties come there is no way to turn around. Hence we are destined to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Jacob received a lot of curses because of his deception. Do not think because God loved Jacob, He blessed him for the rest of his life. In fact, God allowed the brother-in-law of his father to deceive him ten times. It is very ironical. Jacob deceived his father once. God allowed Laban, his father’s brother-in-law, to deceive him 10 times. He deceived his father for one day, but he was deceived by his ten sons for decades. They lied to him that his favorite son Joseph had died by staining Joseph’s coat with blood. When Jacob met Joseph again, a few decades had passed.

Why would Jacob fool his father? It was because of his mother’s instruction. The mother was good in everything, except in giving this instruction to the son. God also punished Rebekah. After that event, Jacob had to leave his parents as Esau wanted to kill him, and Rebekah never had a chance to see her favorite son Jacob ever again. Rebekah already died when Jacob came back.

God is just and is not to be taken lightly. How solemnly God disciplines His own children! We need to see God’s authority, justice and severity, and not only see look at His mercy and love in unbalanced way. May the Lord help us that through His Word we learn to fear Him and follow His command. Evil will not produce goodness.


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