The story from Genesis 27 of Jacob stealing Esau's blessing from their father Isaac is intriguing on many levels. The sinful nature manifested in deceit, the dysfunction of familial relationships and significance of a parent's blessing on a child all stand out to me.
How cunning and utterly devious Rebekah is as she wraps Jacob into a web of deceiving his father and robbing his brother. This heist designed by mother and son stands out for all of history as a dark model of following the sinful nature to a pathetic and destructive end. A mother should be an impartial nurturer over each of her children, should she not? And yet we see Rebekah turning a cold shoulder to her firstborn Esau and plotting with the younger son Jacob to take advantage of their elderly father Isaac and steal the legally binding blessing from the rightful older son. Did either Rebekah or Jacob consider even for a moment, the impact this would have on Esau? It seems from the text that the two of them feed of each other's lust for success in the deception and remained blind to any other consequences. That is often how otherwise well meaning people fall into the most destructive and hurtful sins. In this instance, the drive for deceit blinded a mother and a brother from seeing the hurt they were bringing on a family member.
This story also serves to remind us that every family experiences dysfunction on one level or another. Rebekah and Isaac obviously did not have a healthy marriage with open and honest communication or this travesty may have been avoided. Jacob obviously was not raised with a healthy understanding of his role in the family and God's place for him. What Isaac's family experienced in this incident is played out today in much different circumstances but still with painful results. No family is perfect. But God places us in a family for a reason. It is the environment and the primary relationships that He intends for an individual to know most significantly. As I raise my own family now, I see each day how different each of my three children is. I am trying to learn how each uniquely needs to be loved, disciplined and taught. And my wife and I are learning the different roles and gifts that we each bring to the parenting arena. We each have sin in our lives and that sin interferes with the peace of our home at times - just as sin disrupted the balance in Isaac's home. But we try to keep short accounts with one another, confess and deal with sin quickly and follow direction of Ephesians 4:26: "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry."
Finally, this passage in Genesis shines a light on the deep significance of a parent's influence on their child. In ancient time's a father's blessing carried with it legal ramifications that affected generations to come. That is why the news of Jacob stealing his blessing led Esau to produce a "loud and bitter cry." In our day, a parent still can make a profound impact on a child by simple words that are spoken...or by those words left unspoken. Our media tries to convince us that parents are irrelevant and serve little purpose beyond giving birth and feeding a child. But the truth is each child has an internal emotional tank that can only be filled by the loving words and actions of a mom and dad. Parents will leave a legacy through their kids. The question is whether the legacy will be one of love and healthy relationships or one of deception and painful memories. I try to remember this each time an impatience rises in my heart toward one or more of my kids. Whatever inconvenience or distraction they are bringing at the moment pales in comparison with the long-term growth and health that I can help foster through the investment of those few moments with them.
So many stories from the Bible deal with the lives and relationships within families. Each time we read a story like this one, the Holy Spirit can help bring deeper insight on our own efforts to live our God's plan for our family.