Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Gen 28 Chasing the Dream

Up to the point where Jacob steals his brother's blessing, everything has been going Jacob's way. But now there is a turn in the road in Jacob's life. Now the tables are turned. Now Jacob begins to reap the same things he has sown.
Because Rebekah did not want him to marry a Hittite (27:46).
Ge 27:46 Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
Note her despair! “Life just isn’t worth living! If Jacob gets a wife like this, I’d just rather die!”
Notice in-law (and out-law!) friction in Genesis.
Remember that Esau had married two Hittite women, who brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah (26:34-35).
Be prepared to go “out of your way” to marry the type of person God would have you marry. A godly, faithful Chris­tian, with a background, family and value system similar to your own. Not just same religion, but same cultural and social and economic background. Don’t settle for a Hittite!
“From the daughters of Laban ...” In a sense this will be Jacob’s undoing. Laban will be the one who deceives Jacob just as Jacob deceived Esau and Isaac. Jacob will spend fourteen years of his life to get the woman he loves. Sowing and reaping.
Isaac confers the patriarchal blessing of Abraham on Jacob.
Similarity: As Jacob will marry two of his first cousins on his mother’s side (Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Jacob’s uncle Laban), Esau marries a first cousin on his father’s side, a daughter of Isaac’s half-brother Ishmael, who was born to Abraham and Hagar (Genesis 16:11).
And therein lies all the difference in the world!
Esau does not marry a Canaanite, because the daughters of Canaan displeased Isaac. But neither does he marry within the covenant family of Abraham and Isaac!
Esau marries out of, away from, the covenant family. His own choices and personality confirm the choices and decisions God made before Esau was born. God said Esau would not be the covenant heir; Esau by his own choice removes himself from the covenant family.
Similarly, Jacob marries within the covenant family. He obeys his parents. Through his obedience he shows himself to be the heir of the covenant.
What if Jacob had not obeyed his parents?
Distance from Beersheba to Bethel: about 70 miles as the crow flies over mountain roads.
“Nearer, My God, to Thee” -- “my rest a stone” (read stanzas two and three)
“Mansions Over the Hilltop” -- “And like the prophet, my pillow a stone”
Ladder to heaven
Angels ascending and descending
John 1:51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
LAND - On which you lie
SEED - Descendants as the dust of the earth
BLESSING - Of all nations in you and your seed
PRESENCE OF GOD -- Providence, protection, preservation
Heb 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
 “The house of God;” “the gate of heaven”
Name changed from Luz to Bethel
Think of the vow as a commitment, a pledge.
Apply this text to your own life.
Will God be with you?
Will He keep you on the journey of life?
Will He give you food to eat and garments to wear?
Will He bring you to the Father’s house in safety?
Then ...
[1]The LORD will be my God.
[2]I will set up a stone as a witness.
[3]I will give a tenth, a tithe, to the LORD of all that He gives me.
NT sets no percentage, but the principle holds true.
“I gave My life for thee; what hast thou given for Me?”
We give out of a sense of what the Lord has given us.
Should we give more or less sacrificially than what Jacob pledged to give? Well, has God given us more or less?
Not a set quantity:
Mk 12:41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
Lk 19:8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”
Mk 10:21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Charitable giving today averages 2 - 3 % of individual income.
Oddly enough, as income increases, sometimes the percentage given as contributions decreases. In many cases, those who have less are more generous with their little than others are with their much more. Why is that?
 “Back to Bethel”
1.   The Purpose of God
Jacob “lighted upon” a certain place. 28:11
2.   The Portal of God
A ladder … earth to heaven. 28:12
3.   The Pre-eminence of God
The LORD stood above it. 28:13
4.   The Person of God
I am the LORD, the God of … 28:13
5.   The Promise or Provision of God
Land, descendants, and blessing. 28:13-14
6.   The Presence of God
I am with you. 28:15
7.   The Protection of God
I will keep you wherever you go. 28:15
8.   The Perseverance of God
I will not leave you until … 28:15
9.   The Praise of God
The LORD will be my God. 28:21
Expanded Lesson Outline – “Back to Bethel”
¨     The Purpose of God
On the one hand, Jacob “happens upon (Heb., pagha’) a certain place (lit., “the place” where God was to appear to him) ” and sleeps on a stone, in a makeshift bed. Unsettled. Traveling. Future all unknown. On the run from Esau in fear. On the other hand, God has a plan, which He unfolds.
God uses Jacob’s circumstances to bring him to the place in which God can say, “East, west, north, and south … it’s all yours.”
Distance from Beersheba to Bethel: about 70 miles as the crow flies over mountain roads.
Lighted upon = chanced or happened upon. Pagha’
Even today shepherds often spend the night with stones under their heads. Common.
¨     The Portal of God
Ladder or stairway connecting earth and heaven. Man could not attain to it by reaching up. God had to reach down.
Contrast this ladder or stairway to heaven with that of Babel.
Ziggurat uncovered in Ur (Third Dynasty).
¨     The Pre-Eminence of God
He stands above the stairway. The angels carry out His will.
¨     The Person of God
“I am the LORD, the God of Abraham and Isaac …”
God has a history, a track record.
His character is the basis of His covenant.
¨     The Promise / Provision of God
Land – would take hundreds of years.
Descendants – would take hundreds of years.
Blessing – would be fulfilled in the coming of Christ.
How could God bless Jacob, who had cheated his brother and deceived his father?
One answer: God had to work through imperfect people to bring the perfect One into the world. That fact does not justify anyone for doing wrong.
Another answer: God’s dealings with Jacob would involve two tracks or levels.
Track One: God’s sovereign, redemptive purpose to bring the Savior would stand. Through Jacob He would bring the Christ. Regardless of Jacob’s behavior.
Track Two: God would also deal with Jacob at the personal level. He would reap what he had sown. He would be cheated by Laban. Given Leah instead of Rachel.
¨     The Presence of God
“I am with you …”
¨     The Protection of God
¨     The Perseverance of God
“… until I have done what I have promised you.”
¨     The Praise of God
God’s promise to us prompts our promise to Him.
Jacob is not bargaining with God, but offering his thanks to God.
Can Jacob be sure that God will give him food, and garments, and a safe return? Of course! Rom 8:32 What need we fear? Why? Matt 16
He gives to God because God has given to him.
What shall we give God, in light of His grace?
How does this passage point to Christ? John 1:51
How can we apply this passage to ourselves?
I am with you.
I will keep you.
I will bring you back to this land.
I will not leave you.
Nearer, My God, to Thee
Stanza 4 in the original:
Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise;
So, by my woes to be, nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.
Mansion Over the Hilltop
Stanza 2
“And like the prophet, my pillow a stone.”

Gen 27 The Sting

No one wants to be scammed, especially by their family! Perhaps many of us can share experiences of conniving and scheming between siblings in our own families. We have also seen actions and consequences that emerge from parents’ favoritism toward their children.
Isaac preferred Esau, the firstborn. Rebekah favored the younger Jacob. That conflict between the father and mother reached a head when Isaac was old and nearing the end of his life on earth.
27:1-4 Isaac Calls Esau to Bring Food and Be Blessed.
Note the Ancient Near Eastern practice of the deathbed blessing, like our custom of a written will. Compare Jacob himself in Ge 48-49, when he blesses his descendants before his death.
27:5-10 Rebekah Calls Jacob, Planning to Deceive Isaac.
Rebekah: One can become so competitive regarding his child’s success over others that he loses sight of what is ethical and right. It’s all right for Rebekah to want what is best for Jacob, but only within the boundaries of righteousness.
Why are we so consumed with having to be first? The Bible calls this trait “selfish ambition” or “vainglory.”
2 Co 12:20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;
Ga 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
Php 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Like mother, like son. Jacob was fiercely competitive. He saw his brother as a rival, a threat.
Jacob took advantage of even his father’s weakness, when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see.
Again, he cared only for his own profit, without concern for the grief he caused his aging father.
Though Jacob knew what he was going to do was wrong, his only concern was not, “This is wrong. I must not do it.” But rather, “What if I get caught and punished?”
Contrast with Joseph, who could perhaps have slept with Potiphar’s wife with no one ever knowing. Without any nega­tive consequences.
Today: “Will I get pregnant?” “Will I get a disease?” “Will I go to jail?”
Our society has changed. In past generations, when Americans generally believed in God more seriously, they wanted to do right just because it was right. Now that many in our culture have disposed of God, the only motivation people have for obeying the law is to avoid negative repercussions. They have lost the idea of accountability to God. Take paying taxes, for example.
And, just like Jacob, many are deciding that they can get away with it.
Of course, the Scripture teaches ...
Num 32:23 “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.
Yet, whether one’s sin is exposed or not is not the only issue. God sees and knows all that we do, and even a so-called secret sin is a sin against Him.
27:11-17 Rebekah and Jacob Prepare the Scam.
Rebekah was a liar, too. Not in anything she said, but by what she did. Cooking the savory food, putting Esau’s gar­ments on Jacob, and putting the goat skins on his hands and neck. Deliberate deception is the same as a lie, whether we deceive by verbal language or body language.
27:18-25 Isaac Succumbs to the Deception.
Jacob was a liar. Lying is never right and cannot be justi­fied, even when one thinks his intention is good.
Ge 27:19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.” 20 Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the Lord your God caused it to happen to me.”
Jacob even included God in his lie. Then he confirmed that lie.
Ge 27:24 And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.”
Isaac was initially suspicious for several reasons:
[1] How did his son get back so quickly?
[2] Why did the voice he heard sound like Jacob’s?
He should have checked it out instead of allowing himself to be fooled. He should have known better. Surely he knew of Jacob’s ability to deceive and Rebekah’s favoritism.
Listen to your suspicions if they are based on facts. Find a way to prove or disprove them without assuming the guilt of the other person. Give the benefit of the doubt, but don’t be gullible. If you have doubts, check them out.
27:26-29 Isaac Blesses Jacob Instead of Esau.
Ge 27:29 May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you.”
[1] PRIORITY OVER ESAU: Be master of your brothers, And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
[2] INHERITANCE OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT: Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you.
See also Ge 28:3-4, 13-14.
Ge 28:3 “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 “May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.”
Ge 28:13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14 “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
27:30-38 Esau Arrives and Weeps Over His Loss.
What is it like to be tricked, swindled, even betrayed – by a member of one’s own family?
How could one do that to his own brother or sister?
How does this apply to the church?
34 Esau cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!”
38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept.
Jacob had again lived up to (or lived down to!) his name. To “jacob" (Hebrew) a person was to supplant, usurp, or grab what was theirs. Note how Esau stated this connection.
Ge 27:36 Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted (Heb, “jacobed”) me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
At the same time, Esau was at fault too. He was also to blame for consequences that resulted from his own choices. Note in the NT:
Heb 12:16 [see] that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
Esau had made a decision which could not be reversed. So it is with many of our choices today. If only we could turn back the clock and have a “do-over!”
27:39-40 Isaac Grants a Blessing to Esau.
We might wonder why Isaac did not take back the blessing from Jacob and give it to Esau. After all, Jacob had de­ceived him. In his mind, he had been blessing Esau, anyway. And these words were spoken orally, not written. And Isaac was still alive. Why did he not simply reverse what he had said and switch the blessing over to Esau?
In the Ancient Near East, the father’s deathbed verbal blessing was unchangeable and inviolable. Once spoken, it was legally binding; it had the force of law. It was equivalent to a will in our society, but it was even more final in that it could not be changed or revoked. It was like the laws of the Babylonians in Daniel’s day and the laws of the Medes and Persians in the time of Esther.
27:41-46 Esau Seeks Revenge. Rebekah Sends Jacob Away.
How would you feel if you were Esau? You hunt the game, come in from the field, prepare the food, and find out your kid brother stole your blessing! You would be angry, just as he was.
Ge 27:41 So Esau hated [or bore a grudge] Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
How should Esau have reacted instead?
We cannot control the behavior of other people.
But we can (and must) control our reactions. How?
How does Rebekah again bail out Jacob and show her favoritism toward him? (27:42-45)
Rebekah thinks that in just a few days Esau’s anger will subside and that he will forget what Jacob did to him. (27:44-45) Is she right? No. How long does Jacob actually stay away from Esau? At least 14 years, the time it takes for him to marry Leah and Rachel.
How does Esau ultimately respond to Jacob at their next meeting? Unbelievably ...
Ge 33:9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”
Did that response not leave Esau happier and more blessed by God than if he had harbored anger and resentment?
What would you say about Rebekah’s attitude (27:46)?
What about this? “If my child marries the wrong person, I just can’t go on!”