Reading through the Bible together
Can you think of a time in your life when you did something stupid, selfish, or hurtful to another person and would not admit your mistake? Perhaps you denied what you had done, tried to ignore the entire situation, or even blamed someone else for what happened. Even worse, perhaps you tried to give a “religious spin” to the whole event- somehow claiming that this was all God’s will despite your full awareness that it was merely the result of your own sinfulness.
That is Jacob’s situation in today’s story from Genesis 27. Notice the most dramatic moment of the story when Isaac suspects some foul play and questions the speed with which “Esau” (really Jacob disguised as his older brother) has returned from the hunt. Isaac asks, “ ‘How did you find it so quickly, my son?’ ‘The Lord your God put it in my path!’ Jacob replied.” (Genesis 27:20, NLT). That’s a lie! Not God, but a scheming and deceptive mother! And Jacob, though hesitant, nonetheless, finally agreed with his mother’s deceptive plan. Both of them bear responsibility for this theft and fraud, but certainly not God!
This story, like none other in Scripture, displays the tragic results of generational sins. Rebecca’s scheme is reminiscent of Sarah’s scheme involving Hagar (Genesis 16:1-5). Both women intend to “help God” fulfill His promise. Both use methods contrary to God’s plans. Rebecca has perpetuated her mother-in-laws sins into the next generation. Jacob’s lie about his own identity is not that different from his father’s and grandfather’s lies about their wives’ identities. All three men rationalized their lies as necessary for the fulfillment of God’s promise. In reality their lies revealed cowardice and distrust of God. Other generational traits in this story include favoritism, marital discord, sibling rivalry, jealousy, and hatred. Also the themes of attempted murder, long family separation and ultimate reconciliation span the generations before and after Jacob.
This story calls us to reflect on our own families. What traits, what family sins, what habits and tendencies have we inherited from our parents and grandparents? The awareness of such does not lessen our personal responsibility, but it does sharpen our focus on how and where we need God’s grace in our lives to face the Satan’s attacks.
Director of Outdoor Leadership and Education, Southern Adventist University