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Jacob's Schemes, God's Grace

October 14, 2018 Speaker: Mitchel Kirchmeyer Series: Genesis: Beginning the Journey Home

Passage: Genesis 26:34– 28:9

How do God's blessings come to us?

When I was a kid, I loved getting the Christmas ads in the mail. We’d get the Toyland ad for Fleet Farm and the Christmas flyer for Kmart and the JCPenney catalog. My mom actually still sends me a picture when they come in the mail. I would go through them and clip out all the toys that I wanted then I would tape them to a sheet of paper. By the end, there would be no white showing because it was totally filled up and it would weigh about five pounds because of all the tape. That sheet of paper represented all the things I wanted but didn’t have.

When we get older, we still do the same thing. Maybe you look at catalogues and websites and see all the things you don’t have. But we can look at other people’s lives as our catalogues. We can look at what other people have and decide we want it too. It’s not just physical things like houses, cars, or clothes that we see in the catalogue. We can want the popularity they have or the respect they have or the body they have or to be as good of an athlete as they are. We can want someone else’s job. We can want the behavior of someone else’s kids. We can want the amount of free time and lack of stress someone else has. We can scroll through someone’s facebook or Instagram feed and think, “I wish I had their life.” We can want anything someone else has that we don’t.

Sometimes when we look at what someone else has, we might think, “They don’t deserve that.” We are not only jealous of what they have, but we think that they don’t even deserve it so it would be better off in our hands.

Have you ever wanted what someone else has? When you’ve looked at someone else’s life, have you wished that they’re life was your life?  How did you feel toward them?  How did you feel toward God?

Series Introduction
This evening we are continuing our series called Beginning the Journey Home in the book of Genesis. Last week, we were introduced to the new characters on the stage in this act of the story. We saw how the promises and blessings of God that Abraham received were passed down by God to Abraham’s son, Isaac.

Sermon Introduction
Last week we met Isaac’s two sons, Jacob and Esau. They are twins, but Esau is considered the oldest because he came out of the womb first. As the firstborn, that means he will be the future head of the family when Isaac dies. But after they had grown up, Esau sold his birthright as head of the family to his brother, Jacob.

This week, we will see more of Jacob and Esau. Last week we focused on how God’s blessings came to Isaac and to us. The answer is: they come to us by grace, by promise, and by someone else’s obedience. This week we will again focus on that same question because Genesis chapter 27 is about how God’s blessings come to Jacob.

The big question this passage answers is: How do God’s blessings come to us? How do God’s blessings come to us?

Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing (Genesis 26:34-28:9)

We already read the first part of the story so let me recap. Quite some time has passed since Esau sold his birthright to Jacob and Isaac received the blessing from God. Isaac is now old and wants to pass on God’s blessing to his oldest son, Esau. So he calls him in and asks him to go hunt some game and make some delicious food from it. Esau heads out, but listening in on this conversation is Rebekah, Isaac’s wife. Esau is Isaac’s favorite, but Jacob is Rebekah’s favorite. So she tells Jacob, “Go grab two young goats from the flock. I’m going to make some food for your dad from them and you are going to take it into him and pretend you are Esau so you can get the blessing.”

How is Jacob going to respond to his mom’s idea to cheat his brother and trick his dad? Jacob protests, but not because he thinks they shouldn’t do it. He protests because he is afraid of getting caught! He points out that Esau is hairy and he isn’t so even though his dad is blind Isaac could still touch him and realize it isn’t Esau. Then he would get a curse instead of a blessing! His mother says, “Let the curse be on me if it happens” but she also dresses him in Esau’s clothes and puts goat skins on Jacob’s arms so that he will feel hairy.

They prepare the food and Jacob goes into his father’s tent and the conversation is just painful to hear. Jacob greets his father and in his blindness Isaac asks who it is. Jacob says, “I am Esau your firstborn.” He totally lies. Isaac is surprised. “How did you hunt the game so quickly, my son?” Jacob’s explanation? “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” Jacob lies about who he is then he uses God as a cover-up for his lie. For Jacob, God isn’t someone to love, trust, and obey. His name is something to be used for his own schemes.

Isaac is still perplexed. The man in his tent is saying he is Esau, but the voice is Jacob’s. He calls him close and touches him and feels the hairy goatskin. Still hesitant, he asks, “Are you really my son Esau?” Jacob answers: “I am.” So Isaac ate the food, then called Jacob close to kiss him and he smelled the scent of his son, Esau, on Esau’s clothes that Jacob was wearing. Isaac believes the lie. He then blessed Jacob.

That’s the story thus far. As painful and heartbreaking as that conversation is, verses 30 through 40 are equally heartbreaking. Look at verse 30:

30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him:
“Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be,
and away from the dew of heaven on high.
40 By your sword you shall live,
and you shall serve your brother;
but when you grow restless
you shall break his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27:30-40)

Isaac trembles at hearing he has been deceived and blessed the wrong person. Esau is crushed and weeps. Jacob has lived up to his name as one who takes by the heel and cheats. He took away Esau’s birthright and now Esau’s blessing.

How do you think the relationship between Esau and Jacob is going to be from here on out? Look at verse 41.

41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother's fury turns away— 45 until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” (Genesis 27:41-45)

Once again Rebekah is listening in and comes up with a plan. She devises a way to protect Jacob by sending him off to his uncle. But she needs to convince Isaac so she brings up Esau’s wives. At the end of chapter 26 he married two Hittites, local women of the land of Canaan. But remember how Abraham said Isaac must not marry a woman from Canaan but one from his family so he sent his servant to find Rebekah? But now Isaac and Rebekah’s son has made them unhappy about his marriage choice. Rebekah uses this common ground with Isaac to send Jacob to safety. Look at verse 46.

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?” (Genesis 27:46)

Continue into chapter 28.

1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother's father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4 May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!”5 Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.
6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebaioth. (Genesis 28:1-9)

So Esau is left home trying to gain his father’s approval by whom he marries and Jacob is sent away. Jacob wanted what Esau had. Esau was the firstborn so he was going to get a double portion of the inheritance plus he would inherit the blessings of God to carry on what God started with Abraham. He doesn’t seem too interested in God but only in the goodies God has given his family. He’s looking through the catalog around him. He sees what his father has and wants it. He sees what his brother will have and he wants it. At the same time, his mom is pressuring him to go after it because she wants him to have it too.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone was pressuring you to get something the wrong way? Have you ever been in a situation where you saw what someone else has and wanted it? Which 4Gs would have helped Jacob? Which 4Gs would help you?

4Gs-sheet

The big question this passage answers is: How do God’s blessings come to us? The answer is one word: Grace. God’s blessings always come to us by grace.

When Gospel Fluency Groups meet, the first question we answer is: what’s the main topic of this passage? What is this passage all about? When Nik and I met to talk about this passage, he said it in one word: grace. That stuck with me because when you look at this story, you probably don’t really like Jacob. He isn’t the guy we are rooting for. He cheats his brother. He tricks his dad and lies to him. He lies about God helping him so his story sounds more believable. By the end of it, we might even hope Esau gets revenge. And yet what happens? He walks away with the keys to the family inheritance and the blessing of God from Isaac on his life.

What’s the deal? The worst guy gets to have his way? Shouldn’t bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people? Jacob is a jerk! Have you ever known someone like this? Everything always seems to go their way even though they aren’t a very good person? Jacob doesn’t deserve the promises of God! He doesn’t deserve the blessing of Abraham! He doesn’t deserve to receive the promised land! He doesn’t deserve to have God in his life!

So why does he? Grace. It might look like he gets it because of his schemes but no one pulls a fast one on God. He chose to bless Abraham out of all the people’s of the earth so he can be a blessing. He chose to bless Isaac instead of Ishmael to so he can be a blessing. He chose to bless Jacob instead of Esau so he can be a blessing. Even if it looks like Jacob gets God’s blessing by his schemes, the truth is that it’s by God’s grace.

The same is true for each of us. Don’t we try to earn God’s favor by our own schemes? Don’t we try to get God’s blessings by our own efforts and plans? Even if we think it’s by our schemes that God’s blessings come into our life, it’s by God’s choice and by God’s grace.

Here’s a truth we need to remember: Know that you are worse than you know and grace is better than you can imagine. You are worse than you know and grace is better than you can imagine.

We are all Jacob. We all need God’s grace. And if you look at Jacob and think that you never have done anything that horrible, then you should still be grateful for God’s grace because that’s the reason you haven’t.

Does anyone remember the basic lie that the serpent got Adam and Eve to believe? Sin isn’t (that bad) and God isn’t (that good). That’s the same like we are tempted to believe. We are tempted to believe that our sin isn’t that bad - that our lack of love for others and lack of love for God aren’t that big of a deal. And with that, we will believe that God isn’t that good. Grace isn’t that amazing because, after all, we aren’t that bad so it isn’t like God is giving us something we don’t deserve.

“Grace” means you get what you don’t deserve. It means undeserved, unearned favor. And the truth is that we are far less deserving than we think or care to admit and are far more blessed than we realize. Each and every one of us is far less deserving than we think and are more blessed than we realize. Make a list of all the good things in your life and you will miss most of it but you deserve none of it

If you have a small view of your sin, you will never have a big view of God’s grace. Why? Because if you have a small view of your sin, you will think that you deserve blessings from God. You will think that you have earned them. You will think that you deserve life, you deserve salvation, you deserve forgiveness. You will think you are entitled to it.

If you have a small view of your sin, you will have a small view of God. If you don’t think sin is that bad, you will never believe the God of the Bible is good. Because you will read through the Bible and see how he reacts to sin and you will think God is overreacting, that he is making a big deal about nothing, that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, that his wrath against sin is unwarranted, and that he is angry and mean.

It’s freeing to realize that God’s blessings, whether physical or spiritual, flow to us because of his grace and not because of our goodness. We don’t have to scheme our way into them like Jacob. Do you feel like Jacob, doing everything you can to get God’s blessings? To get God’s favor? To get God’s approval and acceptance? Doesn’t it feel exhausting? Doesn’t this story just wear you out to look at everything Jacob went through to steal this blessing from Esau? Doesn’t it just make you feel stressed as you tries not to get caught, then has to be afraid of his brother killing him, then has to leave his family that he just hurt? How blessed is Jacob’s life after this?

God may bless you in response to your obedience, but it’s still grace because he has every reason not to bless us for all the times we didn’t obey. Whenever we start looking at ourselves in any way to assess our standing with God, we have turned away from grace. We can either make our life a testimony of how amazing God’s grace is or a testimony of how amazing we think we are.

The truth is, you won’t fully enjoy the blessings God has given you unless you are able to admit you don’t deserve them. How much is Jacob enjoying what he got? He was scared he will be discovered as a fraud now he has to be sent away from his family’s wealth anyway.

How do we grow in our awareness of how bad we are so that we can increase our enjoyment of grace? We can respond to our sin rightly. Two wrong attitudes to our sin are superiority and insecurity.

In situations where we have sinned against someone else, superiority says, “You are the worst sinner.” We compare ourselves to the other person and think they have done everything wrong in the situation or at least have done worse than us. We always judge other people’s sin as more severe than our own even when we do the same things to them.

In situations where we have sinned against someone else, insecurity says, “I am crushed by my sin.” We are so afraid of our sin being found out that we will do anything to keep it hidden. If we had to admit sin or someone else knew about it, we would be crushed.

What do superiority and insecurity look like in action? The look similar. When we feel superior or insecure, we blame others, justify our actions, get defensive, hide and cover up, and accuse the other person.

What’s a right attitude? The right attitude is one of humble gratitude: “I am the worst sinner saved by grace.” What does it look like? Guilt, grief then gratitude. Guilt for what we’ve done. Grief for how it hurt the other person. Grateful for grace. Jesus has paid for it. If you have trusted in Jesus, there is no sin he has not paid for. If our response to sin doesn’t lead to the fruit of the Spirit, we are doing something wrong.

How does this help us enjoy grace? If you want find out how much is in your bank account, you can simply go check the balance for the total amount. But another way is to get a printout of all the transactions and add them up to see how much is in your account. Each deposit will show you how much you have.

When it comes to our spiritual bank accounts, we won’t realize how much we have until we see what has been deposited. We can easily say, “Jesus paid for all my sin” but it’s hard to really feel the weight of that. But every time you sin then respond with guilt, grief, and gratitude, you are seeing another deposit on your bank statement. That’s another deposit of forgiveness Jesus has put into your account.

Enjoying God’s grace is essential to us living as a family. It enables us to be family of mess-ups who willingly admit that we are far from perfect yet who aren’t worried about it. Wouldn’t it be freeing to admit our sin and weakness to others without being afraid? “I’m messed up and so you are, but God’s grace take care of it and I love you anyway.” We don’t have an attitude of superior or insecurity but of gratitude that Jesus has covered it.

Enjoying God’s grace is essential to us loving as servants because we will be able to offer compassion, love, and patience even to those who don’t deserve it. God gave that to us when we didn’t deserve it!

Enjoying God’s grace is essential to us going as messengers because the best messengers come from a place of humble gratitude. How much different does the bad news that you are a sinner sound when it comes from a place of gratitude rather than of superiority and judgment?

Conclusion
When you look at Abraham’s life, he has a mix of good and bad. He does some bad things, but he does some really good things too. By the end of it, you could think: “Well, maybe his good outweighed his bad and that’s why God blessed him.” But when you come to Jacob’s life, there’s hardly a bright spot. We get to see even more bad things in Jacob’s life than in Abraham’s and in more detail. Both of these men show us that our standing before God totally rests on grace.

More in Genesis: Beginning the Journey Home

December 9, 2018

Jacob and the God More Powerful Than Him

December 2, 2018

Jacob and His Sons Fail to Walk with God

November 18, 2018

Jacob's Search for Acceptance