The Lord bless you and keep you. (Numbers 6:24)
Imagine hearing this story as an Israelite, a descendant of Jacob. In some ways, up to this point, Israel can be proud of Jacob’s advances: holding onto Esau’s heel at birth and driving a hard bargain to gain Esau’s birthright, which Esau seemed to care little about anyway. But now, the story turns in such a way that it’s very hard to reconcile Jacob’s actions when he cheats Esau out of his blessing. This story shows Jacob in an ugly light.
As the head of the family, Isaac had the duty of making sure the family continued to prosper after his death. In lieu of modern written wills and attorneys, he secured the position of the elder son by giving him a blessing. Actually, we may better understand it in terms of covenant. This was a solemn and serious vow that sealed an important exchange. For Jacob and Esau, what happened in this moment of blessing was very important. When Jacob stole the blessing, Esau lost his position, responsibility, and his security. In his place, Jacob gained everything. Jacob, who had always grabbed for what Esau had, finally had it all.
The Bible never seems to gloss over the ugly parts of history and heroes, and Jacob is no exception. In this story it is clear that Jacob was deceitful and acted wrongly. He did not deserve the blessing. Still, God chose to use Jacob’s poor choices to bring about positive change.
• God always works for the good.
• We have to be as careful as we can to make good choices.
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