Scripture Study Session 3, Part 2: The Folly of Distrust

Yesterday I wrote about what we learned in Jeff Cavins’ A Quick Journey Through the Bible scripture study course about trusting in God’s plan for us. We learned that Abraham trusted God to give him the children he had promised even though Abrham was seventy-five years old at the time. By showing Abraham a blue sky and telling him that his descendants would be like the stars, God let Abraham know that just like the invisible stars of the daytime that appeared at night, so would his descendants appear in their due time.

What happens when we don’t allow God’s plan to play out in it’s own time? Let’s take the example of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. Jacob and his older twin brother, Esau, were rivals even in the womb. Their mother mother Rebekah, could feel them jostling in her womb. God explains:

Two nations are in your womb,

two peoples are quarreling while still within you;

But one shall surpass the other,

and the older shall serve the younger. (Gn. 25:23)

Esau was born first followed by Jacob, even then jealously clinging to Esau’s heel. Custom dictated that Esau, as the elder, would inherit God’s blessing and promise that was bestowed on Abraham and passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac, Esau and Jacob’s father. But! God had said that the older shall serve the younger. God had a different plan in mind. How God intended this plan to unfold we’ll never know because Jacob, goaded on by Rebekah, took it upon himself to trick Isaac into bestowing his blessing upon him.

In Gn. 27 Isaac, near death and going blind, asks Esau to hunt some game and prepare a stew for him so that Isaac may eat it and give Esau his special blessing. Isaac had always preferred Jacob because was fond of hunting and Rebekah had always preferred Jacob because preferred to stay at home. We won’t get into the dangers of playing favorites with your kids. I only mention it to explain Rebekah’s actions upon overhearing Isaac’s instructions to Esau. She tells Jacob to get two kids from their own flock. She’ll prepare a stew for Isaac, then Jacob will disguise himself as Esau, deliver the stew to Isaac, and receive Isaac’s special blessing. It was a plan just crazy enough to work! Isaac falls for the ruse hook, line, and sinker. When the deception is revealed Esau is devastated and Isaac is at a loss to fix it because, apparently, once given, a blessing cannot be revoked.

Esau plots to kill Jacob so Rebekah has Isaac send Jacob away to her brother Laban’s house. It is there that Jacob meets and falls in love with Rachel, Laban’s daughter. Jacob offers to work for Laban for seven years to earn the right to marry Rachel. Laban agrees. Seven years later Jacob comes to Laban to claim his reward. Laban says of course you may marry my daughter! He throws a big wedding feast and Jacob meets his bride in their bedroom that night. Now comes the fun part of the story! When Jacob wakes up the next morning he discovers not Rachel in his bed, but Rachel’s older sister, Leah! When Jacob goes to Laban for an explanation Laban reminds him that the oldest must be married first. Jacob can have Rachel too if he works another seven years! (Gn. 29)

In his lecture on this story, Jeff Cavins says that this is Jacob’s comeuppance for deceiving his father and obtaining is blessing through trickery. Wouldn’t he have received his father’s blessing anyway and married Rachel if that was God’s plan in the first place? Probably, but maybe it wouldn’t have taken fourteen years! We don’t know. An analogous modern situation might be an unemployed man who wants to buy a house. He looks and looks for a job but when he doesn’t find one soon enough he robs a jewelry store and kills the owner. He takes his ill-gotten gain and buys a the house of his dreams. He sends his children to the best schools and his daughter grows up to be the first female president of the United States. Near the end of his daughter’s first term, evidence of the father’s crime comes to light. He goes to prison and she loses reelection in disgrace. One could argue that the daughter would never have become president if it weren’t for her father’s crime. I would argue that someone with the intelligence and drive to become president could have succeeded under any circumstances but would have enjoyed a happier ending had her father had a little more patience and faith in God. Just like Jacob, the father’s goals were achieved but there was a price to be paid.

The lesson I draw from the story of Jacob and Esau is that faith in God, integrity in our actions, and love for our neighbors are essential to happiness in this life and the one beyond.

What are your thoughts…?

Have a blessed week!

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