Deception and Intrigue
In Genesis we find the story involving Jacob, Esau, Rebekah and Isaac that reads like the script from some strange combination of a television sitcom and an afternoon soap opera. I invite you to read my unique rendition of this story, and through some humor, I hope to reveal a very serious message for all of us.
Here is my interpretation of Gen 25:29-34. In the story, Jacob swindles his brother out of his birthright. After a long day in the field Esau walks in and sees Jacob cooking, and this is their exchange.
“I am starving; can I have some of that stew your making?”
“Nope,” Jacob replies.
“Please,” Esau says. “I would do anything; you know how much I love your stew.”
“Anything,” Jacob asks him.
“Yes, anything,” Esau states firmly.
“You know that birthright thing pops is planning to give to you when he croaks, I want it,” says Jacob.
“No way,” Esau retorts.
“Then no stew for you big brother” replies Jacob.
“Come on, pretty please, I am dying here,” Esau begs.
“Sign over the birthright,” Jacob demands.
“Okay,” Esau begrudgingly says.
“Not so fast,” Jacob replies. “I need you to swear an oath first.”
Esau swears the oath, and so began Jacob’s manipulative ploy to win over his father’s birthright.
Sometime later the intrigue continues (Gen 27:1-38). At this point Isaac is an old and dying man with bad eyesight (apparently he did not have access to cataract surgery or perhaps it was not covered under his insurance policy). Now that he has manipulated his brother out of his birthright, Jacob still has one more hurdle to complete his scheming. He must now win the blessing from his father. But first the story continues with a conversation between Isaac and Esau.
“My son,” Issac calls.
“Here I am,” Esau replies.
“Son, if you make me some fresh goat stew I’ll grant you my blessing,” Issac promises.
Esau doesn’t tell dad he has already squandered away his birthright for some of the very same stew. “Maybe this delicious goat stew will work in my favor this time,” he thinks to himself.
Upon overhearing the conversation between Isaac and Esau, Rebekah sets a conspiracy into high gear.
“Jacob,” she calls.
“Yes mom,” he answers.
“Listen son,” she says, “I heard your father tell your brother to prepare him his favorite dish. You know how much your dad likes goat stew.”
“Yea, mom, I sure do.”
“Well, after eating it, he plans to give him his blessing.”
“What….no way….we can’t let that happen. Jacob snaps. Fortunately, mom comes to his rescue.
“Son, listen closely to what I am about to tell you and do exactly what I say.” Rebekah commands.
“Okay mom, what’s up,” he replies.
She then tells him to get a goat, cook it up and take it to his father to receive the blessing while Esau is out of the house.
Not wanting to get caught Jacob says to his mother, “But Esau is a hairy man and I am smooth-skinned, if dad feels me I’ll get caught and dad will curse me.”
His mother replies, “Let any curse against you, my son, fall on me! Now just do what your mamma says, and get going.”
Mom has a few tricks up her sleeves. She has Jacob wear some of his brother’s clothes and she places some hairy goat skin on Jacob’s hairless neck and hands.
Jacob sets out and does as he is told. He prepares the food and takes it to his father.
“Pops, I have your food ready.”
“How did you get it so quickly, my son,” Isaac asks him?
“I got lucky and killed it with my first shot and I got some help getting it butchered because I knew you were hungry.” In the back of his mind Jacob was thinking, but dared not say, “Plus dad, I didn’t want you to die before giving me that blessing.”
Isaac, smelling a rat and thinking something strange is going on calls out, “which one of my sons are you, you sound like Jacob, come closer and let me touch you and smell you to know that you are Esau.” After touching his hairy skin and smelling the outdoor fragrance of his clothes, Issac concludes it is his elder son Esau. After all, he concludes, if it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.
In the end, as you all know the deceitful ruse works. With his mother’s help, Jacob secures his father’s blessing and the rest as they say, is history.
What does this all have to do with us? The story caught my attention because of its intrigue, conspiracy, deception and lies. You could say that there is a little bit of Jacob in all of us. Deception is one of Satan’s favorite tools. My use of humor, hopefully keeps us from crying when we stop to realize all of the deception in our world and in our own life. We can take heart in the fact that God did not abandon Jacob even after his sinful scam.
Throughout history, Satan has used deception as a weapon. John 8:44 calls Satan the great liar. He deceives us into thinking that the things we are doing are not sins. He deceives us with false prophets. He causes us to deceive others and finally he craftily causes us to deceive ourselves.
Knowing the truth is our best defense against Satan’s deception, We find that truth in God’s word. Satan never lets up on his attack, so let’s never slowdown in reading the Bible. James 1:22 tells us to be more than hearers of the word. We must be doers as well. We need to put it into action in our life.
Most of us know this quote: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool mom.” If we Substitute GOD for mom in that statement we realize we can fool ourselves and others, but there is no fooling God.
Here are four good group discussion questions for the week:
- In what ways do I deceive others?
- In what ways might Satan be deceiving me in my life today?
- Have I deceived myself into thinking that my sins don’t hurt anyone but me?
- How do I try to deceive God?
Heavenly Father, please grant me the gift of integrity in all that I say and do. I ask this in the name of Jesus your Son, amen.
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Brian, did you change your Fourth Day letter day, am on vacation and seemed to have missed something as this one is dated the 10th and this is the 28th, or did I not get the last 2. Thanks. I forward them to about 10. God Bless you.
The 4th Day Letter always goes out on Tuesdays. The mailing list is automated and it goes out to the same mailing list each week. If there is ever a time you are not seeing it I encourage you to check your spam folder. If you do not see it there, some electronic gremlin is causing the problem. Just simply click the link on the website to sign back up. You should begin receiving them again the very next Tuesday after you sign up.
Thank you for forwarding them to your friends. I hope everyone does that. It is an easy way to evangelize. God bless!
The discussion questions are a great addition to your great writing.
Thank you for writing and for letting me know you liked the questions. May God love and grace surround you and your family, now and always.
I enjoyed this week’s letter very much – even though you remind me of my own duplicity (doh!).
My hope remains in God!
Joe, the Holy Spirit has a way about pointing out those things in us that need some work. Thanks for writing. May God’s blessing be with you.
Excellent, one of your best. I really liked the humor. Thanks for your on-going good work. Jim
Thanks Jim, I appreciate your kind words.
I liked the additional group questions at the end of your article.
Thank you for letting me know you like the group questions. I would love to hear from others as to how they feel about the questions. I am thinking about making these type of questions a part of all future 4th Day Letters.
Hopefully there is a part 2 to your story. Recall also that through this deception, Jacob becomes Israel. And from Israel a nation is forged and a Savior is ultimately brought forth. The greater lesson in this story is even in our lies and manipulations, God’s plan is ever present. His hand is always there – during our times of glory as well as our times of shame. This is the part of the story that brings hope to us all. If the story ends at the deception of Jacob and Rebekah, our hope is left there as well. But our God is a god of surprises and that is a good thing.
Thanks for your shared thoughts. I tried to make that point about God using Jacob, even though he received the birthright and blessing through deception. God brought about great things through Jacob. The good news is that we are all a little bit like Jacob, and even in our broken condition God can do great things. Thanks for writing! As to whether there will be a part two, that is in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
Very clever use of the Book Brian. I am sending this off to my cousin in Boulder. Will explain Thursday.
I am delighted that you found it useful. I hope your friend finds it helpful. May God’s blessings be with you both.