Friday, January 18, 2019

Promise and Blessing

You're probably familiar with the brotherly rivalry between Jacob and Esau - Esau was loved by his father, Isaac, but Jacob was loved by his mother, Rebekah. Over the years, scheming ensued, and Jacob - not once, but twice - takes what is rightfully Esau's, forcing him to flee to Rebekah's homeland under the guise of finding a suitable wife. Really, he was just trying to get far enough away that his brother couldn't kill him. 


The most dramatic scene that takes place between these two pre-Jacob's flight back to Laban is the incident where Jacob and Rebekah devise a plan so that his ailing, blind father, Isaac, will bless him, the second son, rather than Esau, the firstborn. Isaac sends Esau into the fields to hunt wild game as an offering for his father's blessing, Jacob takes a goat, Rebekah prepares the goat, and Isaac eats the goat, blessing Jacob in place of Esau, convinced (though not 100%) that it is his firstborn son. 

Then, Esau comes in sweaty from the fields, fresh game on his plate, and offers it to his father, who has already given out his blessing and grieves that he has been deceived. Begging, Esau pleads with Isaac for something, anything - a blessing, too. And Isaac comes up with a promise for him. It's not, on the surface, nearly as wonderful as the blessing Jacob received, but a promise is a promise, and it stands. 

What is easy to miss in this exchange is how this interaction is a small taste of what is going on in the world around us, what is happening in the dynamic between God's people and the world. How this scene, all the way back in mid-Genesis, sets the stage for Jews and Gentiles generations later. 

Although the Jews are known as God's people, they are actually a second son. The original plan was that God was going to bless all of humanity, live with them, walk with them in the cool of the day in the Garden. He established this through Adam, then Noah, then Abraham - the plan was men all along. But sin kind of wrecked that, at least in the initial goings. 

So God's plan to bless people gets thrown off-track. By their own deception and depravity. In comes the second son. 

The second son, Israel, promises himself to be just as good as the first. In fact, you might even think he was the favored all along. At least, that's what it seems to be. And the Father speaks a blessing over the people, but it's not the blessing He wanted to speak. Then, in rushes the first son and says, wait a minute - what about me? 

The Father rends His clothes in grief. This isn't how it was supposed to happen. His blessing is already poured out on the second son; it's given to the people of God. But He cannot, in good conscience, neglect His firstborn, either. So He continues to hold a promise for him. 

The plan was men, but in the reality of sin, the second son - Israel - steps in and takes the blessing. But God has never forgotten His firstborn, never forgotten the Garden. And He continues, throughout generations, to speak promise over men, as well. Not just Israel, but all men, all mankind. We see it again and again and again - for the sake of the world, for all the world, for all the nations, for every generation, for all, for anyone

And eventually, we see it - for anyone. Though the second son remains blessed, the first retains the promise. God brings them together in His house, in His love, and both fulfill the glory of His grace. 

It started here, in mid-Genesis, with Jacob and Esau - a second and a first son, who bear in themselves the promise and blessing of the Jews and the Gentiles, from one house. From one Father. For one Love. 

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