The story of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing teaches us about trusting God vs. trusting self, and it also has some insight into election. God’s choices are God’s choices, and God’s promises are God’s promises. Note to self: stop thinking you have to fix everything…
1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”
“Here I am,” he answered.
2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”
36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”
41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Genesis 27:1-10, 36, 41
10 Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 9 that God’s choice of Jacob over Esau was made before either had done anything. Neither had done good or bad in life, and yet before they were born God chose to bless Jacob over Esau. Paul writes that this example demonstrates God’s purpose in election.
Election depends on God. Not on us. God’s choice of us depends on God’s choice – not on our works or our anything else human in nature or origin. This runs contrary to how we understand most things to work in our world. Which is just the way God wanted it.
And so when I read the story of Jacob stealing the blessing of Esau, I can’t help but think that the whole situation has nothing to do with God’s election and everything to do with human intervention and works. Rebekah knows that God has elected Jacob to be blessed by God. Yet still she pushes Jacob into human efforts to secure a blessing which wasn’t at risk anyway.
In other words, if God promised to bless Jacob, why would anyone on earth need to help God deliver on his promise? God has it under control…
And so what are we not leaving up to God’s control in our own lives? What things are we intervening in which God is able and active in influencing? Be careful if you think your actions are required to seal the deal or prevent the tragedy. Sure, if you can push the damsel out of the way of the moving train, get-r-done, yet we ought to be careful if we are conniving to fix problems that God plans to solve.
The blessing for Jacob was God’s promise to make and God’s promise to fulfill. Rebekah and Jacob didn’t need to do anything except rely on God. This reminds me of the story of David. David was anointed as the next King while Saul was still on the throne. In fact, David specifically would not do anything which might be counted as taking matters into his own hands because God’s anointed was still on the throne.
We could use more Davidic deliberations and less Rebekan rebellion…