Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?” “The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.
When watching a sporting event, children often want to cheer based on morality. “What’s the good team?” they ask. While naïve, this instinct is laudable in many ways. In any story, we seek a place to stand, a hero through which to see events. This chapter frustrates all of those instincts, at least at first glance.
We can pity Isaac, an old man who merely wants to bless his oldest son, an event that seems natural. But we know from Genesis 25:23 that Rebekah had been told that the older son would serve the younger son. We might wonder why Isaac would perform this blessing in private and not as a public celebration. We cannot root for Isaac in his efforts to thwart God’s purposes.
We can pity Esau as a bumbling fool (25:29–34), but his stupidity comes from a spiritual sloth, evidenced by his polygamous marriages to Hittites (26:34). Rebekah cannot be our champion either. She had the right result in mind, but we see where her youngest son inherited his ability to manipulate situations.
We certainly can’t root for Jacob. Without hesitation he invoked God’s name in a brazen lie (27:20), using words he knew would melt Isaac’s grieving heart (26:35). As usual, sin alienates these characters from God, but also each other, and this fragile family splinters apart in fear and rage (27:41).
Behind the scenes, outwitting all those who thought themselves clever, our Champion works. God was not pleased by their actions, but He is the sovereign Lord whose plans cannot be thwarted. He can redeem even our failures for His purposes. Esau’s anger causes Jacob’s flight, which put him in position to marry within Abraham’s promised family line. God will make a holy people for Himself.
Apply the Word
Jacob’s exile brought him pain, but God used his journey to transform him. When we feel alone in our surroundings, Jacob’s story should encourage us. Our exile might be the beginning of our transformation, a chance to see God and His world anew. If you find yourself out of your comfort zone, thank God that He is working in your life to bring good things.