The Berean Expositor
Volume 43 - Page 71 of 243
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"In Isaac shall thy seed be called . . . . . And not only this; but when Rebecca also had
conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (for the children being not yet born, neither
having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand,
not of works, but of Him that calleth); it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the
Ishmael the firstborn is set aside, and Isaac is seen as the child of promise. Esau the
firstborn is set aside, and the younger, Jacob, is the true seed, a "supplanter", by Divine
intention. Manasseh the firstborn is passed over, that Ephraim the younger may receive
the blessing, and so on down the ages.
We believe that we are not alone in experiencing considerable difficulty when asked
to believe that when Isaac was deceived into blessing Jacob in the place of Esau, that
Isaac acted "by faith". If that is faith what is credulity, or unbelief or disobedience? For
observe, in Gen. 27: we have the following statements, and are not left to our own
Isaac most pointedly intended to bless Esau.
Rebekah as definitely intended Jacob to be blessed.
Rebekah's methods are to be condemned, but at least she sought, even by questionable
means, that the revealed purpose of God at the birth of Esau and Jacob should be carried
out. We cannot suppose that Isaac had lived in ignorance of this prophecy given at the
birth of the children, and therefore his direct choice of Esau can scarcely be called "the
obedience of faith".
When Esau returned we read, "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and
said, Who? where is he?" etc. This trembling and questioning are no
evidence of faith. Yet it still stands written, "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob
and Esau concerning things to come".
The turning point of the narrative where faith begins to operate appears to be at the
moment when Isaac realized the deception that had been practised upon him. The words
"And Isaac trembled with a great trembling greatly" (Gen. 27: 33 margin) appear too
strong if they simply indicate Isaac's fear of Esau's anger. May they not rather indicate
that with the revelation of Jacob's deception came also the consciousness of his own
failure to seek first the will of the Lord? And so at the end of the very same verse that
sees him "trembling greatly", we find him suddenly resolute: "Yea, and he shall be
blessed". So we find the vacillating Pilate suddenly adamant, when the purpose of God
shall so require: "What I have written, I have written."
The blessing intended in unbelief for Esau is confirmed to Jacob "by faith". Strange
overruling, yet can we not see some parallels in our own wayward wanderings? Esau
was blessed concerning things to come, and the blessing is recorded in verses 39 and 40.
Jacob's full blessing, freely and by faith, however, is not given until the 28th chapter:
"And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him" (Gen. 28: 1). There is no deception now,
no compulsion; faith sees clearly the path to tread. The blessing evidently has intimate
relation to the great promise of God to Abraham concerning a Seed and a land, for Isaac