So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said,
“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you of the dew of heaven,
and of the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of grain and wine.
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
It is one thing to experience God taking our mistakes and blessing others through them. It is quite another when we are the ones who receive that blessing. Jacob, at the request of his mother Rebekah, tricked his father into giving him the first blessing. In those days, they did not use wills. I suspect the majority of people could not read or write, so written documents were not very useful. Instead, they had ritual ceremonies where land and possessions were bequeathed to others by spoken word. That is why this blessing was so important.
In our culture, we may not be quick to line up to hear kind words spoken about us from our parents or grandparents, but most will not miss out on a reading of the will if they think they may get something out of it. I think the ancient Hebrews had a more balanced approach to this subject. They understood that life was more than property and that spoken words carried the power of creation itself. So this “blessing” was a sacred moment… which means that what Jacob did here was not just deceptive, it was sacrilegious! This was like robbing the offering plate as it was passed to you. So the question is, what is God, who sees everything, going to do about this? The answer: He blessed Jacob. He gave Jacob exactly what he was after.
Later, God would give Jacob what he truly needed, but it would be after he had squandered half of his life in and out of deceptions. Through it all though Jacob would live a life recognizing that, although He had some major struggles, He always ended up getting blessed more than he deserved. His life would come to a culmination point, wrestling with the angel of the LORD Himself. When the angel of the LORD asked to be let go, Jacob said: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Even with God Himself, Jacob seeks after undeserved blessing, and even here God gives it to him.
Why is this the “culmination” of Jacob’s life? Because here, for the first time, Jacob is finally asking the right person for the blessing. Instead of wheeling and dealing it from those around him, he finally goes straight to God. God unlike you and I, delights in giving out undeserved blessing. He calls it grace. It’s His specialty. Jesus celebrated with his disciples, that they should receive the blessing of heavenly sight and understanding, when the Jewish rulers and temple leaders of the day were denied it. They, and we, receive that blessing from God, that grace, not because we are more worthy than others, but precisely because we are unworthy, but we are willing to ask anyway.
That is one of the hard things to understand about God, because it runs so contrary to our own self-perception and pride. God sometimes gives out blessing as a surprise, to those who do not seek it out. Most of the time though, God gives out blessing to those who do not deserve it, but are brave enough, ambitious enough, or humble enough, to ask anyway. Humility does not keep us from asking God. It merely keeps us asking for blessing that we will actually put to good use rather than let go to waste. Yet even this is not the primary concern of the God who can create simply by speaking and who holds all the wealth of creation at His disposal. No, what God really wants from his blessed, undeserving children, is simply gratitude.
What undeserved blessing has God given you today?
How are you showing gratitude for that blessing?
- (Mt 11:25–27)↩