Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 10: Genesis 27, 28, 29

Isaac Feels Jacob as Rebekah Looks On, waterco...Image via Wikipedia
Have you ever gone to a high school reunion maybe 30 years after high school graduation?  Did you have a chance to meet up with someone labeled "The Most Popular" or "The Most Likely to Succeed"?  In my friend's  high school yearbook,  the photograph of the young man "most likely to succeed" smiled boldly as he imagined his certain glowing future.   At the reunion, he was a slightly pudgy,  balding man with dropped shoulders who stuttered and complained about all of the bad breaks he got in life.  His forced smile was a muscular caricature of mirth.  Not only did nothing go right, but now he was poised on financial ruin.   In high school he had everything peers thought was necessary for success, but still he did not succeed.

In this Bible narrative, Isaac is somewhat in this camp.   Forty years have elapsed since he had married Rebekah in a fairy tale setting.

Isaac's father, Abraham, was a man who knew God, talked to God, and called on God.   In contrast, Isaac is recorded as calling on God only once, when his wife of 20 years remained barren.

 God answered Isaac's prayer and Rebekah conceived.  Troubled by the jostling in her womb Rebekah inquired of God about the meaning of this.  God then told her that the older son would serve the younger.

Even though God made known to Rebekah and Isaac that the younger son would be favoured by him, Isaac  loved his older son Esau more.  By the time he was forty years old, Esau already sold his birthright to Jacob, the younger son, and  married two Canaanite women, thus showing that he did not honor the special family line.  Even though Isaac wasn't happy with Esau's wives, he still wanted to give him a special blessing that God had empowered him to give.

It appears that Isaac himself lost sight of God.   In his old age, Isaac was also loosing his sight.  Maybe that was a physical manifestation of a spiritual ailment.

While both Isaac and Rebekah knew the oracle Rebekah heard from God regarding her children, it's interesting to note that neither Rebekah nor Isaac called on God to effect his prophecy.  Isaac sought to overturn God's prophecy by blessing Esau anyway and Rebekah sought to foil her husband's plan by disguising Jacob to appear like Esau.  While Jacob did receive Isaac's blessing, the ill will, resentment, and anger that it caused split the family apart.

Rebekah arranged for Jacob to flee from home to her brother Laban's homestead under the pretense of seeking a wife.  In stark contrast to how Eliezer, Abraham's servant, left Abraham with a caravan of gifts and wealth to present to Rebekah's family, Jacob had nothing, not even a change of clothing.

It appears that he left in such a hurry, that no provision was made for his journey.  Rebekah counseled him that when it was safe to return, she would send for him.  Unfortunately, she died before it was safe for him to come home.

After Jacob left Beersheba, where his parents lived, he camped in the desert.  One night God appeared to him in a dream and affirmed that the promises made to Abraham and Isaac are now made to him.  God also assured him that he would be with and that he would watch over him.  When Jacob awake, he vowed that if God would provide for him and be with him during this journey, he would give God a tenth of all that God gave him.

It's interesting to me that Jacob fully understood that he really had nothing.  While Isaac, his father, had blessed him, he, maybe in anger, with held all earthly goods from Jacob.  I don't know what Isaac was thinking but it could even have been that he hoped Jacob would perish in the desert so that Esau would have the blessings.   So, Jacob talked to God and fully confronted his poverty.

Jacob, the "disinherited" son of Isaac arrived in Paddan Aram with a promise from God and with the ability to work.  Laban was shrewd and no doubt saw that something was amiss.  He allowed Jacob to work for him for seven years so that he could make up his mind about him and watch.  He wasn't going to give up his daughter that quickly.  As Jacob proved himself to be an honest and diligent worker,  he acquired two wives, Rachel and her sister Leah.  Laban obviously began to think better of him.

In this episode of his life, God had talked to Jacob and comforted him.  I feel that God wanted to show Jacob that God's way of doing things is the better way and more efficient way.  Man's way is often cumbersome and filled with hurt, even when man wants to do God's will, but in his own style.

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