Sunday, 4th October 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

READING – GENESIS 26:34 – 27:4
34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for his elder son Esau and said to him, ‘My son.’
‘Here I am,’ he answered.
2 Isaac said, ‘I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment – your quiver and bow – and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.’
Esau
What do we know about Esau? He was a twin.
Was he like his twin? NO!
What else do we know? He liked his grub! He sold his birthright for a bowl of porridge. And that was just typical of this lad – he was more interested in FOOD than in living a life for God.

He was a boy who desperately wanted to belong. Lots of you are desperate to BELONG to the group – you would do anything to be cool in the eyes of your class mates – or in the estimation of the folks in the office – or down at the Bowling Club – in fact you might even do bad things if you thought it would make you popular. That was just the kind of lad Esau was. Very keen to please his father – yet he lives in an inappropriate way so that he lost both his father and mother – his whole family.

It wasn’t just his eating that was a problem. He also married the wrong kind of women. Now, I know that mums and dads are often guilty of not liking our friends, but in this case it wasn’t just that Esau’s parents didn’t like the girls – it was GOD Who said that the girls were wrong for him.

Several things happen in this scene we are reading today – the first and the last are Esau marrying women who were all wrong for him. This was a boy who wasn’t going to receive God’s blessing – and who didn’t deserve to receive God’s blessing – he just went his own way ALL THE TIME.

There was a small part of Esau that still wanted God’s blessing – after all, he was the older son and expected to get something good from his father. However God would not bless this boy who was selfish through and through.

SONG Praise God from Whom all blessings flow

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Reading – GENESIS 27:5-28
5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 “Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.” 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so that I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.’
11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, ‘But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.’
13 His mother said to him, ‘My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.’
14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of her elder son Esau, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.
18 He went to his father and said, ‘My father.’
‘Yes, my son,’ he answered. ‘Who is it?’
19 Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’
20 Isaac asked his son, ‘How did you find it so quickly, my son?’
‘The Lord your God gave me success,’ he replied.
21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.’
22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, ‘The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ 23 He did not recognise him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ he asked.
‘I am,’ he replied.
25 Then he said, ‘My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.’
Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come here, my son, and kiss me.’
27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
‘Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the Lord has blessed.
28
May God give you heaven’s dew
and earth’s richness –
an abundance of grain and new wine.

Jacob
If it is true that Esau was a bad boy in almost every way, then when we look at Jacob, he doesn’t SEEM much better.

Here we see Jacob with his mum and then with his dad. On neither occasion does he shine as a good boy. First of all, he and his mum agree on a plan to trick the dad. Jacob’s father, Isaac, is getting old – his eyesight is very poor – and Jacob’s mum knows that Isaac is planning to give his blessing to Esau.

Well, Rebekah knows that the blessing should come to Jacob, her favourite son – God had said that Jacob would be the son that would be blessed. However, instead of trusting God to work things out, she decided that she would have to give God a helping hand – by TRICKING old blind Isaac. She tells Jacob to dress like his twin brother and go in and tell his dad that he is ESAU and then dad will give him his blessing. And Jacob does what his mum tells him.

But worse than that, he makes this lie worse (verse 20) by using God’s Name in a wicked way.

Yet, even though he had done wrong, he received the blessing of his father. In due course, he would suffer for his lies. When his brother Esau heard what had happened, he decided (7:41) to KILL Jacob. And Jacob had to run for his life – he went to live in Padan Aram – far away from his family. He wasn’t just running away from his brother – God had another reason to get him away from that place. If he had stayed there long enough, he might have gone the same way as his brother – and become like all the bad people that they lived beside. God wanted him out of there in a place where he would stay close to Him. God often takes us to a safe place to keep us from harming ourselves.

SONG We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing
(This is an anonymous Dutch hymn and tune written after a Dutch military vicory. Shortly before publication of this hymn in 1626, a group of 102 Puritans set sail on the Mayflower. Earlier, they had fled to the Netherlands from England to escape religious persecution. Subsequently, they arrived at Plymouth Rock in December 1620. After enduring a harsh and deadly winter, these pilgrims, through the aid of native Americans, celebrated a bountiful harvest in 1621. Most noteworthy, this is popularly known as the first thanksgiving feast. The anonymous Dutch hymn remained unknown to English-speaking people until its translation and republication in the late nineteenth century. The lyrics of verse one appear on the YouTube video – verses 2 and 3 are printed for you here.)

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine.
So, from the beginning the fight we were winning.
Thou, Lord, were at our side; all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation.
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free.
READING Genesis 27:29 – 28:9
May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.’
30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, ‘My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’
32 His father Isaac asked him, ‘Who are you?’
‘I am your son,’ he answered, ‘your firstborn, Esau.’
33 Isaac trembled violently and said, ‘Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him – and indeed he will be blessed!’
34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘Bless me – me too, my father!’
35 But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.’
36 Esau said, ‘Isn’t he rightly named Jacob?[a] This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!’ Then he asked, ‘Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?’
37 Isaac answered Esau, ‘I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?’
38 Esau said to his father, ‘Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!’ Then Esau wept aloud.
39 His father Isaac answered him,
‘Your dwelling will be
away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
40
You will live by the sword
and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke
from off your neck.’
41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’
42 When Rebekah was told what her elder son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’
46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.’
28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram,[b] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty[c] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.’ 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman,’ 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realised how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.
Isaac & Rebekah
The only small piece of dialogue between Isaac and his wife Rebekah is in 27:46.
Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”

Interestingly, the only thing that Isaac and Rebekah are agreed upon is that Esau has made bad choices in his marriages. At the end of chapter 26 and the beginning of chapter 28, we read of these marriages. Surely Isaac should have realised that Esau was beyond redemption by his selfish acts? But no – love is blind – especially family love. How many of us are prepared to admit that our children have any faults (other than to THEM, of course)? Isaac was overwhelmed by his appetite when the time came to give his blessing to his son. It wasn’t just physical blindness he had – but also spiritual blindness. His sensuality is highlighted – game and tasty food are mentioned 14 times. It was almost as if he was becoming just like his son Esau!

Isaac was determined to do his own thing and to go against God by blessing Esau – yet GOD stepped in and ensured that Jacob got the blessing. God’s purposes were achieved despite Isaac’s attempts to thwart them. Isn’t it marvelous that the plan of God prevails through Isaac’s fallibility, through Rebekah’s deception and through Jacob’s blasphemous lies?

In other words, God’s grave does NOT depend on US!

Rebekah seems to have been absolutely determined that God’s special one (Jacob) would receive the blessing – whatever the cost. It may be that she favoured Jacob right from his birth, because she had been told before his birth that he would be God’s choice. At any rate, she was determined that Abraham’s vision for the family would be saved from Isaac and Esau’s unfaithfulness.

She even asked that the curse would fall on her (27:13) if things should go wrong. Now, although this didn’t happen, it would seem that after this scene, she disappears from the record. Only at the end of Genesis (49:30) do we discover that she had been given an honourable burial with the other patriarchs and matriarchs in the cave of Machpelah.

These four players all suffered for their wayward actions, but the wonderful thing that we can take from a passage like this is that the will of God prevailed above all the stupidity and wickedness of His servants. God does not need us to interfere on His behalf – certainly He does not need us to lie and cheat to bring about His purposes on earth.

Yet we must be encouraged – that although we are more like Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau than we may care to admit, nonetheless God can and will work with wayward people like US – and His great purposes in the world will be achieved. And there will be blessing for the world – and even blessing for US. What a great God.

SONG

Lord dismiss us with Your blessing
Fill our hearts with joy and peace
Let us each, Your love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace;
Trav’ling through this wilderness

Thanks we give and adoration,
For Your Gospel’s joyful sound;
May the fruits of Your salvation
In our hearts and lives abound.
Evdr faithful, ever faithful
To Your truth may we be found.

Saviour, when You love shall call us
From our struggling pilgrim way,
Let not fear of death appall us,
Glad Your summons to obey.
May we ever, may we ever
Reign with You on endless day.

PRAYER

Benediction

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