The Problem of Blessing – Jacob and Esau. Tim Keller sermon. iTunes
Intro. Jacob is one of the most unheroic heroes in the Bible. We can relate to him really well compared to King David and others.
The big idea: our modern concept of blessing is wimpy, making it hard to understand this narrative.
1. The power of blessing.
Rabekah and Jacob thought it was something they could steal. Issac and Esau thought it was stolen. Isaac couldn’t take it back because blessing is partly a last will and testament. Furthermore, blessing is a series of words that shape your life. The nursery rhyme is wrong – it should be rewritten to say: sticks and stones my brake my bones but words have a lasting impact on my soul.
Blessing is 1. an accurate spiritual discernment of who the person really is, what person God is making them. 2. It uses very powerful words to encourage them to be the way they are and to be the way they will become.
2. The need for blessing.
Our lives are distorted without getting a blessing. The struggle for blessing is the theme of Jacob’s life. Why does Jacob later hold on to the angel until daybreak as they wrestle? He wants a blessing. No one can bless themselves. Isaac doted on Esau and was the uniquely valuable person of the tribe in Isaac’s eyes. Jacob wanted this. He says he is the real, qualified firstborn to his dadwhen he goes in to steal the blessing. We all want the blessing of the firstborn. Isaac has poisoned his family and kids with this implied blessing everyday to Esau as his favorite. Modern books say that what we say about ourselves is all that matters. This is not true. We can’t bless ourselves. To feel smart, we need someone really smart to tell us we are.
3. How we usually try to get blessing.
Jacob is frightening picture of how most of us try to get blessing – we dress up as someone else. He hid as someone else. We are all doing that now. How are we getting blessing from others? We are not letting people see who we are with all our fears and flaws. People take jobs they don’t like for status to get a blessing of being valuable. Others seek blessing through romance. Others can’t handle the expectations that parents still have over them, the lack of blessing from parents to be who they want them to be. Others hide in church. We want others to say we are not too messed up and get their blessing and approval. The climax of the story is when Isaac kisses his son and smells Esau. He finally got the look on Isaac’s face he wanted to have but it didn’t change him because he knew it was not Jacob he was blessing, only the dressed up persona of Esau. That is the same for us. When we get these blessings from the world, they don’t satisfy and change us. They leave us empty and hallow. Everyone’s life falls apart in this story.
The moralistic approach to this story is to parent well all your kids not just the favored one. However, even in the best cases, we all still come out like Jacob with an isatiable appetite to get a blessing…
4. The real path to blessing – how do we find it?
Isaac says a starteling truth to Esau after he found out he was lied to. He says, Indeed, behold, Jacob will be blessed.
A. Isaac is realizing that God will work through the curves of life. Esau is even more likable to the narrator than Jacob. The real moral of the story is that God’s mercy comes on the most unsuspecting, undeserving people, who often are the least appreciative.
B. Isaac is going to embrace God working through this curve. He has been fighting against God since the boys were born, and he now he is done. He finally endorses the prophecy to Rabekah when she was pregnant with the twins that the older is to serve the younger. He likes the man’s man son – Esau. He does not want the failure or the marginal son. But he surrenders his resistance.
Jacob was wrong when he said he was the firstborn. Jesus, however, is the firstborn of all creation. He lived in eternal doting from the father over him as his son. Jesus left this position. On the cross he lost the first borne blessing. On the cross is the only place we hear Christ pray to “God” and he doesn’t say “father”. Why? He lost the blessing of the firstborn for justice to be served on me.
Christ redeemed us by becoming the curse of the law. Jesus dressed up like us and got the curse we deserved so that we might get the blessing of God that Jesus deserved, dressed up in his righteousness. I get the firstborn blessing. Heb 12:23 calls the church the church of the firstborn. What kind of a family has a room full of first borns? This is not possible except in God’s family. In the high priestly prayer Jesus prays that God would love me EVEN AS God loves Jesus the firstborn.
Jesus is the true Rabekah. She says to Jacob that she will take the curse in order for Jacob to get this blessing of the first born.
A. Romans 8:16-17. The spirit bears with our spirit to go get the blessing of the firstborn now experientially. Seek this. It comes from the holy spirit not from us.
B. Only when you have this blessing can we get out and bless others.
Until we see this, we fail; otherwise our comments of encouragement to others will only be to make them like us and not be gebuine blessing to them at all.
Thanks to Erik Nelson for this picture.