Monday, June 15, 2009

God's Plan or Our Actions?

Yesterday, I tackled the story of Rebekah and Jacob stealing Isaac's blessing from Esau as part of our new series "Waking Up in Bastrop." I want to chew on that a bit more this morning. (If you missed my presentation, you can go here.)

First, read all of Genesis 27.

As you begin to observe the events in Chapter 27, don't forget two things are already in play . One, God announced before the twin boys were born that the older will serve the younger. (Genesis 25:23) Two, Isaac and everyone else in the family knew Esau had sold his birthright as the oldest son to Jacob. (Genesis 25:29-34)

I mention this because we usually get all over Rebekah and Jacob for their scheming but maybe they would not have done that if Isaac had not tried to give his blessing to Esau, who now did not have the right to receive it since he had sold his birthright to Jacob. Maybe Isaac is at fault (not that we need anyone to be the fall guy when dealing with His-story), and if he had left well enough alone we would not have had this story in the biblical record.

Maybe only when Rebekah overheard Isaac's play to bless Esau did she make her play for her favorite to get the blessing. Either way, we have a theological dilemma because of their actions.

I got an email last week that summarizes this dilemma perfectly:

I've always thought this was so unfair of Jacob and his mother to trick and cheat their [son and] brother. Was the brother an ungodly man? Stealing your brother's birthright always seems so wrong to me. I couldn't understand a blessing that had it's (sic) roots in trickery.

This email expresses what we all wonder about this story. So, what was it? Did Jacob and his mother cheat his brother and take what was not Esau's in the first place? (He had sold his birthright to Jacob.) Had Esau done something so wrong that God would not allow him to be his covenant bearer? How could Jacob's deceit be okay with God? Was it because the 10 Commandments were not in play yet?

Did God look the other way when his chosen covenant bearer, Isaac, was deceived? Or, was God's promise that the older will serve the younger realized in the mother-son plan? Their plan became God's plan.

Finally, would God have fulfilled his promise that Jacob be His covenant bearer in another way if Jacob and his mother had not schemed to qualify themselves by their own efforts? God could have had Esau killed in a hunting accident, and we would not have this theological dilemma before us.

This blog entry is not long enough to answer these questions. However, now that they are posted, chew on them, post some thoughts if you like and I'll be back on Wednesday to give you my take on this.

I do want to assure you that I am convinced that God's promises will happen as they are revealed. What is in question is how does that work out on this side of heaven?

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