Over the past two weeks we have learned the important truth that God’s blessings are not tied to our performance, but on the finished work of Christ. God does not love us more on our good days or love us less on our bad days. God’s love is steadfast. But if God’s love is steadfast and not tied to our performance, is our performance important? Very! Our performance demonstrates God’s love for us and our love for Him. What happens when we Let us return to the story of Jacob and Esau in order to learn the following:
- My Will Be Done. (1-5) Deception begins when we insist on our way. Whether Isaac forgot that God had said Isaac shall inherit the blessing (Gen 25:23) or did not care is not stated. What is stated is that “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Gen 25:28). Isaac had determined to bless Esau and he first wanted Esau to prepare him “delicious food, such as I love.” Rebekah overhead the conversation and put her own plan into place. This situation is getting bad because everyone wants their own way.
- By Any Means Necessary? (6-17) Deception deepens when we employ any means necessary in order to get our way. Rebekah told Jacob to gather food so that she could prepare it like Esau would and that Isaac would bless Jacob. Jacob was reluctant at first because he was afraid Isaac would discover and cure him instead of bless him. Rebekah said she would receive the curse and they disguised Jacob so that he would deceive Isaac. The plan was for Isaac, with his dim sight, to believe Jacob was Isaac and to bless Jacob instead of Isaac. Do the ends justify the means? Does God want us to use any means necessary or are we held to a higher standard?
- Careful What You Wish for. (18-29) Using deception to get our way may produce the results you want, but at a price. There is an old saying: “Careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” Jacob got what he wanted and lied to get it. Jacob told Isaac that he was Esau. Not only that, Jacob said that the Lord has granted him success. Isaac was not convinced at first and asked again: “Are you really my son Esau?” Jacob lied again saying, “I am.” Jacob got the blessing, but it came at a great cost. Let us consider the ramifications of his deceit.
- Deception Brings Destruction. (30-40) Deception hurts others. Soon after Jacob had left Isaac, the deception was uncovered. The result was devastating. Isaac “trembled very violently”. Esau “cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry.” Esau sought to be blessed but it was too late, Jacob had already received the blessing. 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.” Jacob got what he wanted but it came at a great price. Isaac and Esau are bitterly angry.
- Deception Brings Danger. (41-45) Deception hurts yourself. Esau now hates Jacob and seeks to kill him after Isaac dies. As soon as Rebekah learned this she tells Jacob to flee for his life to Laban her brother. Jacob may have the blessing, but now he is fleeing for his life. Deception is costly. We may get what we want by using it, but it brings danger into our lives.
- God Remains Faithful. (46-28:5) Deception is destructive, but it is not able to thwart God’s plans. Just when it seems as if all is lost, Isaac responds in faith. He blesses Jacob and sends him to get a wife from one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. The promise of Abraham and Isaac are reaffirmed for Jacob. It is amazing that God remains faithful to His promises, especially when we consider the lies and deceit used to secure the blessing.
What about you? Do you think the ends justify the means? Are you quick to deceive others in order to get what you want? Deception wreaks havoc upon others and yourself. Galatians 6:7 tells us: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Christian, do not succumb to the lie that you have to lie, cheat, and steal in order to get your way. Entrust yourself to God. Let Him guide you with His wisdom.
Grow Group Guide
A Tangled Web (Genesis 26:34-28:5)
Open with prayer and then have someone volunteer to read Genesis 26. After reading the text, discuss the following questions:
- What does the text say? (What happened? What happened next? What happened after that?) What did Isaac want to do for Esau? What did he ask Esau to do? What did Rebekah do when she overheard? What was Jacob’s response? Did Isaac believe Jacob was Esau? What did Isaac do for Jacob? What happened when Esau returned? What did Esau say he would do to Jacob? Where did Isaac send Jacob and what reason was given?
- What does it tell us about God? (Discuss the nature and character of God.) Where is God in this story? Why does God not step in to stop the deceit? How does the sinfulness of Rebekah and Jacob result in God’s prophesy coming true? While this incident results in what God desired, is this the way God desired it to happen? How can God use the sinfulness of man for His purposes, yet not be responsible for man’s sinfulness?
- What does it tell us about ourselves? (What are the human characters in the story doing or not doing that serve as a warning or encouragement to us?) What motivated Isaac? What motivated Esau? What motivated Rebekah? What motivated Jacob? What should have been their motivation?
- How am I going to think, speak, and live differently because of what I learned? James writes that we should be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22). It is not enough to know what the story says, it is important to apply the truth of the story to our lives. Take some time in prayer and consider some changes that you need to make in the following areas: