Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. ISAAC'S ERROR - connecting a solemn blessing with mere gratification of the senses, neglect of the Divine word, favoritism towards the son less worthy.
II. JACOB'S SUBTILTY and selfishness. The birthright had been sold to him; he might have obtained the blessing by fair agreement. His fear of Esau lay at the root of his deceit. One sin leads on to another. Those who entangle themselves with the world are involved more and more in moral evil.
III. REBEKAH'S AFFECTION was perverted into unmotherly partiality and unwifely treachery to Isaac. The son's guilt rested much on the mother's shoulders, for she laid the plot and prepared the execution of it. All were sad examples of self-assertion destroying the simplicity of faith. And yet -
IV. THE COVENANT GOD over-rules the weakness and error of his people. The blessing was appointed for Jacob. Although pronounced by an instrument blind, foolish, sinful, deceived, it yet is the blessing, which, having been lodged in Isaac, must pass on to the true heir of Isaac, who, according to the promise and prediction, is Jacob.
V. The lower character and standing of Esau and his inferior blessing represents the distinction between THE CHOSEN PEOPLE AND THOSE WHO, WHILE NOT INCLUDED IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL, may yet by connection and intercourse with it derive some portion of the Divine benediction from it. Both in pre-Christian and Christian times there have been nations thus situated.
VI. The LATE REPENTANCE Of the supplanted Esau. He found no possibility of averting the consequences of his own error (Hebrews 12:17), no place where repentance would avail to recover that which was lost. The "great and exceeding bitter cry" only reveals the shame, the blessing taken away. Those who, like Esau, despise their place in the family of God are driven out into the fierce opposition of the world; "by their sword" they must live and "serve their brethren."
VII. THE END OF DECEIT IS HATRED, passion, fear, flight, individual and family disorder and suffering. Yet again the merciful hand interposes to over-rule the errors of man. Jacob's flight from Esau's hatred is his preservation from ungodly alliance with heathen neighbors, and the commencement of a wholesome course of discipline by which his character was purged of much of its evil, and his faith deepened and developed - R.
Luke 1:15), prevails through believing prayer. Yet Jacob became Israel, and Israel had once been Jacob. The plant of faith has often to struggle through a hard soil. To understand the lessons of his life, remember -
1. In contrast to Esau, he was a man of faith. His desire was for a future and spiritual blessing. He believed that it was to be his, and that belief influenced his life. But -
2. His faith was imperfect and partial in its operation, and this led to inconsistencies (cf. Matthew 14:29, 30; Galatians 2:12). Naturally quiet, his life was passed chiefly at home. Godly influences undisturbed by outward life taught him to worship God, and to prize his promise. But he had not proved his armor (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12); and, as often happens,- the object of his faith was the means of his trial. His father's purpose in favor of Esau shook his faith (cf. 1 Peter 4:18). He yielded to the suggestion to obtain by deceit what God had promised to give (Isaiah 49:1), and earned his brother's taunt, "Is not he rightly named Jacob?" Yet it does not appear that he was conscious of having failed in faith. Consider -
I. THE DANGER OF SELF-DECEIVING (cf. Ezekiel 13:10). One brought up among godly influences may seem to possess faith. Ways of faith, hopes of faith, may be familiar to him. He may really embrace them, really desire a spiritual prize. But not without cause are we warned (1 Corinthians 10:12). Some plan of worldly wisdom, some point of self-seeking or self-indulgence, attracts him; only a little way; not into anything distinctly wrong. Or he falls into indolent self-sufficiency. Then there is a shrinking from close walk with God. Formality takes the place of confidence. All may seem outwardly well; but other powers than God's will are at work within. And if now some more searching trial is sent, some more distinct choice between God and the world, a self-satisfying plea is easily found. And the self-deceit which led to the fall makes it unfelt. And the path is lighted, but not from God (Isaiah 1:11).
II. THE HARM DONE TO OTHERS BY UNFAITHFULNESS OF-CHRISTIANS (cf. Romans 2:24; Romans 14:16). The world is quick to mark inconsistencies of believers. They form an excuse for the careless, a plea for disbelieving the reality of holiness. And for weak Christians they throw the influence of example on the wrong side (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:9). Deeds have more power than words; and the course of a life may be turned by some thoughtless yielding. Nor can the harm be undone even by repentance. The failure is visible, the contrition and seeking pardon are secret. The sins of good men are eagerly retailed. The earnest supplication for pardon and restoration are known to few, and little cared for. The man himself may be forgiven, and rise stronger from his fall; but the poison in the soul of another is still doing its deadly work.
III. THE WAY OF SAFETY. Realize the living Christ (Ephesians 3:17). Rules of themselves can do little; but to know the love of Christ, to bear it in mind, is power. - M.
I. UNSCRUPULOUS SCHEMING.
II. AFFECTIONS THAT CARE MORE FOR HAPPINESS THAN HONOR
III. OF IDOLATRY, COVETOUSNESS, AND NEGLECT OF GOD'S CLAIMS.
IV. OF IGNORING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.
V. OF IGNORANCE AS TO THE TRUE ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS. Rebekah began well. Her advent unto the encampment was a "comfort" to Isaac. She seems to have been "weary of life," and asks "what good it shall do her." Some who ask at this day "whether life is worth living" may find a suggestion in Rebekah's conduct as to the reason wherefore they ask the question. - M.