Isaac BlessesWe know from the record given in Genesis that the Lord promised a son to Abraham from which would come a great nation. Abraham trusted God even though he was 100 years old before the son of promise was given. Despite Sarah’s barrenness and menopause, the Lord kept His Word. Of course Isaac had received the promises as well but after he was married it became clear that Rebekah was barren and could not have children. There were still no children given to her by the time she was in her late fifties.

As a result, in Genesis 25, Isaac prayed for her that she would conceive and bear children. Otherwise the promise and the covenant would be broken.

The Lord heard his prayer and Rebekah conceived twins. They struggled in the womb to the point that Rebekah wondered if she and they were okay. As she sought the Lord about it, the reply was that she had two nations in her womb represented by the two boys to which she would give birth. One would be stronger than the other and the older would serve the younger. Esau was born first with Jacob soon to follow, born when Rebekah was sixty years old.

As promised, during their growing up years, Esau came in from an unsuccessful hunt one day and was very hungry. Jacob had stayed home and cooked a lentil stew, and when Esau asked for something to eat he gave him the meal with one condition. Jacob wanted Esau’s birthright.

As the firstborn, there were certain promises and privileges afforded to Esau. He was so hungry and the stew smelled so good that he swore his birthright over to Jacob for the meal. As a result the older would now be forced to serve the younger.

The stew he ate was red in color and so Esau was called “Edom” which means “red.” His nickname then was “Red.” It is a name that stuck too. The descendants of Esau became the nation of Edom. Of course the descendants of Jacob (who name was later changed by God to Israel) became the nation of Israel. So the promises were fulfilled.

Later in life as Isaac was near death he called for Esau and wanted to bless him, to give him his birthright, ignoring or perhaps ignorant of the trade that he had made with Jacob. Isaac asked Esau to go hunt and prepare a meal for him. Rebekah heard this and after Esau departed to hunt, she took and killed 2 goats and made a meal. She also called Jacob to her and used the hair from the goats to disguise Jacob as Esau – Esau was very hairy, even from birth! Jacob was a mama’s boy, smooth skinned, and not at all like the hunter and outdoors-man Esau.

The deception worked. Isaac, who was blind, could not tell that it was Jacob. He was suspicious of the voice, but Jacob had the hairy feel and outdoorsy smell of Esau, so Isaac was fooled and gave the blessing of the birthright to Jacob.

After this, Esau returned and the deception was uncovered, but the blessing had been given and could not be revoked. Isaac did bless Esau, but it was not near the blessing of the birthright. It included the phrase that he would serve his younger brother, by virtue of Jacob having been given the birthright – fulfilling the promise.

As we see this drama unfold we have to stop and remember that Isaac is mentioned in Hebrews 11 for blessing his boys concerning their future. How was this a matter of faith amidst the deception and swapped blessings?

The faithfulness here is that Isaac passed on the promises made to Abraham by God. In faith, he believed that what God had promised his father, and later him, would still come to pass through his family line. Here are the blessings he gave, based in the faith that God would keep His covenant.

The Blessing Given to Jacob

May God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!

The Blessing Given to Esau

Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass, when you become restless, that you shall break his yoke from your neck.

Both of these blessings have an eye toward the future and toward the promises made and kept by God to this family. His faith was rooted in what he had heard and seen growing up in Abraham’s house. From his own encounters with God. As we have seen, Isaac was faithful. A man who knew God would keep His Word, and a man who was not disappointed.

(next: Jacob’s Faith)