“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
This post took me a while to figure out, despite the verse being short and to the point. I could not understand why faith was an important factor in the blessing of Isaac’s sons. I was guided to discuss the faith it took for Isaac to be at peace with the blessing he was originally going to bestow upon Esau but ended up giving to Jacob. It helps to have a background of the struggle of Jacob and Esau in the womb, the selling of the birthright, and the obedience of one son versus the lack of obedience of the other.
Rebekah was concerned when she felt the struggle within her womb and decided to pray about the matter. She learned that two nations were within her womb, and that the elder should serve the younger. Rebekah had twins. Esau was born first, and Jacob grabbed a hold of Esau’s heel as he was born. The brothers were very different. Esau was a hunter and more concerned about satisfying his physical appetites, as seen when he sold his birthright to his brother and married outside the covenant. In Genesis 25:27, Jacob is described as being “a plain man, dwelling in tents.” It seems that Jacob understood the importance of the birthright more than his brother, which could have led to Jacob dealing with Esau the way he did to obtain it.
Rebekah knew the significance of the Abrahamic covenant and what the Lord had told her concerning Jacob and Esau while they were still in the womb. She saw that the choices Esau was making were likely not acceptable in the eyes of the Lord since obedience was very important to fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant. These could have been motivating factors for her devising the plan to have Jacob bring the savory meat to Isaac and receive the blessing he was planning on conferring upon Esau.
Here is where I had to really think about Isaac’s faith as discussed in our focus scripture. Once he found out that Jacob had disguised himself as Esau and received the blessing, Isaac did not revoke his blessing and give it to Esau as he desired. Isaac was a great patriarch, and he had the holy priesthood. In my opinion, if the Lord truly had wanted those blessings to go to Esau in the first place, Isaac would have been made aware of the deceit. Isaac must have felt that the Lord had a plan all along, and that Jacob was in fact the one to continue to carry out the Abrahamic covenant. Isaac may have been blinded by his desire to have his firstborn change his ways and become more righteous, but in the end, he may have realized that Jacob’s character and obedience would be beneficial in the long run. Isaac did declare in Genesis 27:33 that Jacob should be blessed, and in Genesis 28:3-4 he reaffirms the blessings of Abraham upon Jacob prior to his departure to seek a wife in Padam-aram. However, his love for Esau had always been strong, and Isaac left him with a blessing as well. In an act of faith, Isaac searched for the blessings the Lord wanted to bestow upon Esau, which are found in Genesis 27:39-40.
I want to revisit the definition of faith as found in Hebrews 11:1, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Isaac literally could not see who he was giving the blessing to since his eyes had become dim. He put his trust in the Lord that whoever entered with the savory meat was the son that had been promised that specific blessing all along. Isaac knew that the Abrahamic covenant must be fulfilled, and it seemed that the Lord had chosen Jacob over Esau. Rebekah could have been inspired to help bring about the plan. For those individuals who may question why God would allow lying to thwart the original plan, I ask that you pray to find out for yourself. God is all knowing. He would not allow something as important as the Abrahamic covenant to be tainted by those who are not worthy to carry it out. We must focus on the faith of Isaac to accept the will of the Lord and all the good that came from the way things played out.
How does this apply to us? At some point or another, we may have felt that we deserved a blessing or a charge within the church more than someone else did, or that someone we knew deserved the same more than whoever actually received it. We cannot covet. God knows us best. He is aware of our struggles, our wants, and our needs. We have to be patient. He has a plan for you and for that other individual. We cannot question those He chooses to carry out His work. In my LDS faith, we receive callings to specific leadership positions. Over the years, I have learned that when a calling is extended to me, it is for a purpose. God knows what is easy and hard for me to do. I have received callings that were difficult for me because I had no experience with a specific age group or I felt I did not have the talents necessary to accomplish what He wanted me to do. In those moments I was able to humble myself and allow the Lord to teach and show me the way. He uses those callings to help us grow into who He knows we can become and to help those we serve because He knows only we can connect with them. Have you had an experience where you saw a close friend or a member of your family grow as a result of a service opportunity they felt they lacked the qualities to accomplish? Or maybe a personal experience where you saw your growth after the fact? I challenge you to focus on the positive aspect of things when blessings and service opportunities come your way or that of someone you least expect should receive them.
Missed the last post of this series? Read it here (Sacrifice without Hesitation). You can also download the Hebrews 11 Part 2 study guide.