Sermon delivered November 4, 2000 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

Jacob: Stealing the Birthright

I would like to begin a sermon series on the life of Jacob. We're going to have six sermons on Jacob. Today is the first, about stealing the birthright. Do you all have a birthright? Yes, you do.

You know, God runs the ultimate impossible shop. He specializes in doing the impossible. So often, God chooses His best leaders from the deepest pit, from the most impossible situation. That's where He gets His heroes. And so you may be living in a bad situation today and you're not going to amount to anything. That's where God gets His leaders from. Look at this functional family of Jacob.

Come over here to Genesis 25. Some of this was already read in our Scripture reading this morning, and so I will not reread most of it, but I would like for you to look at Genesis 25:20. It says: and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. These people were heathens. These people had a heathen pedigree. They were not from a lineage of Christians or God fearing people. Laban was an Aramean. You can see that this family was not all that they could have been. Yet, God took them and made something beautiful out of them. That's what God does.

Now, Abraham made a mistake in not praying for his wife, Sarah's bareness. He just went out and grabbed a hand-maiden here and another lady there and started having children. Isaac does not repeat that. Isaac goes to God and prays for his wife's empty womb. You know, that's what a husband ought to do. And Rebekah also prays about that. And God, the ultimate fertility doctor, gave her twins. Now, that's pretty tough, isn't it, to have twins. Especially when you come from a background like her's.

But there was a problem. In verse 22, the babies jostled each other. Can you imagine what jostling would be? They were fighting in the womb. And, Rebekah thought, "Why is this happening to me?" So, verse 22 says: ...so she went to inquire of the Lord.

I believe you can't have a great man without somebody being a great prayer for that man or that woman. You students of Southern Adventist University, you'll never become great unless somebody is back there praying for you. A lot of somebodies. Your mother. Jacob had a praying mother.

And she heard the prophecy about her two twins. These fraternal twins, basically, represented to warring nations: the nation of Israel; and the nation of Edom. The Edomites and the Israelites. They were represented in Jacob and Esau. Look at verse 23: The Lord said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." God read the character of these boys in their prenatal condition.

Now, I suppose today she could have said, "I don't want to have two boys that are going to develop into two fighting nations. They're going to be in conflict, war. I think I'll just go and have an abortion." She could have done that today.

You know, God read the hearts of these two boys. As their brain activity got fired up, He could see what they were going to be. Of course He could see even sooner than that. I wonder if abortion is the right thing to do? I believe in adoption unless there is some big tragedy or something.

So, she had two natures within her, didn't she. I want to tell you that every one of you, including myself, has two natures. You've got two natures within you that are jostling, warring, for control. Isn't that what it talks about in Romans 7? You've got to natures, and these are warring for control. The old nature is the elder nature because that's the one that was there first. The new nature comes at re-birth and baptism. And that's the nature that's going to win if it is dedicated to Christ.

Her firs-born was called Esau. Now, why did she name him Esau? Because he was red. The first red man? Actually not the first Indian, Adam was the first red man. The word Adam means red. And so does the word, Esau. It means red. And Esau had a wild nature. In fact, Esau attempted to kill Jacob in the womb. That's what was going on in there. They were fighting each other. The mini-great-controversy taking place in the womb of Rebekah, and hundreds of years later we recognize that Jacob brought forth Jesus and Esau brought forth Herod. Did you know that? That's where those people trace their roots back to. Those two again locked horns when the devil tried to destroy the Christ-child.

Now, Esau was a hairy looking thing. He looked like a baby animal. He was red, and he possessed an animalistic nature. As Esau came out, they noticed he had something stuck on his heel. It was a hand grasping the heel of his brother. As they kept tugging and pulling out came Jacob holding Esau's heel. Constantly at it. Fighting even as they were being born. Grasping and gasping at each other.

Well, she named the second boy Jacob, which means deceiver. How many of you would choose to name your child deceiver? Did they pick out the names in the Bible as the person died and they were putting up the headstone? Were they thinking, "What shall we put for this person on this headstone? We'll put 'Jacob'." Is that how they did that? Why in the world would you choose a name like that? It meant deceiver. It meant cunning, conniving, cheating, manipulator. I think sometimes maybe the person brought a new meaning to a good name and that's the meaning that stuck. I don't know. But Jacob was indeed conniving. In fact, Jacob was like a slick stereotype used car salesman that was willing to sell you a lemon any day of the week at a bargain. That's what he was like.

And God had His work cut out for Him in trying to make something of Jacob. I mean, He started with very little, but I want you to know that God starts with very little when He works with us. All He has is a lump of clay. That's what He had with Jacob. His brother, Esau, was the evilkeneevile of his time. This man was wild. He picked the nature of Cain, while Jacob picked the nature of Abel. The two of them chose their route of their destination by their choice. Esau's passion was to go out there and kill things, to kill God's creatures, to maim, to destroy. Jacob's passion was to protect, to shepherd the animals. Esau was not too much for mother to brag about. She had two boys and so she kind of sided with the one. Jacob maybe was a vegetarian. Esau loved the taste of blood. Esau loved earthly things. Jacob loved eternal things.

Look over here at Genesis 25. You can see their stories as you come down through here. Esau was red, his whole body was named "Red." I was called "Red" as a boy. People said, "Come here, Red." Nobody calls me that anymore.

Their parents were Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac was blind. They didn't have eye-doctors and laser surgery. They didn't have glasses in those days. He was blind. He couldn't see anything. But I want you to know that his eyes weren't the only things that were dim. His heart favored Esau. Why Esau? Verse 28: Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. He didn't really love Esau, he loved the venison which he brought.

There's a problem here. Isaac had an uncontrolled appetite. His appetite was driving him. He loved his son because he could provide the meat that Isaac craved. Father and son both savored the kill. They both had an uncontrolled appetite. You know, the children of Israel had the same thing. They craved the watermelons, the cucumbers, the leeks, the onions of Egypt. And they never did reach the promised land. That whole generation had to pass away before God could let another generation into the promised land.

Look at verse 29. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom.) He had been out hunting, it was hot, the hunt was zealous, but it was unfruitful. Tired, hungry, Esau trudged home. His appetite was like a chain-saw. The aroma of the savory stew reached his nostrils and he was drawn to the boiling pot. There he saw that red stew. He thought, "Ah! I've got to have some of that." And his cravings took over. And so he said, "Can I have some of that stew." What did Jacob reply? His brother is conniving, you know. He's the used-car salesman and his brother says, "Buba." They were on good terms. ("I'm going to treat you right because I'm going to steal you blind here.") "you sell me your birthright and you can have some of this lentil soup." And Esau thinks, What good is it to have the birthright? I'm going to die anyway. I'm almost dead. I don't want to be the spiritual leader of the house anyway. You've got a deal. Give me that soup and I'll give you my birthright." And so he bartered away his birthright.

Now, actually, his compulsive nature disabled his reasoning because the birthright contained within it the throne. We're told that in Genesis 27:29. Basically he traded future fame for present passion. That's what he did. We don't do that, do we? You know, you do, though, when you take drugs. Do you realize what you're trading? When you have sex before you're married, do you realize what you are doing? You are trading future fame for present passion. Don't do that.

He craved blood and sex. That's what he caved. How do we know that? Keep your bookmark here and come over here to Hebrew 12:16. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance right as the oldest son. This man was sexually immoral, he was godless, and he craved the kill. Blood and sex. I want to tell you today that what you see on television is ninety percent blood, violence and sex. That's what you see on TV today. Esau would have been thrilled to have a television and to watch the programs that are available that you don't watch today. He would have been thrilled.

Now, where was their mother in all of this? Well, Rebekah favored Jacob. Esau was out hunting for days and weeks at a time. So, she hung around Jacob. And Isaac hung around Esau.

One day, a hundred thirty seven year-old Isaac got the idea that he was going to die. Come over here to Genesis 27. He got the idea that he was old enough, he was going to die, he was feeling bad, he was blind, he wasn't going to make it. Genesis 27:2. Isaac said, "I am now an old man and don't know the day of my death." He spoke to his son Esau, "Now then, get your weapons--your quiver and bow--and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die."

Now, Esau must have known that he had already traded his birthright away. He knew that. Isaac knew that. Why does Isaac try to make a bargain? The birthright has already been sold. And besides, he surely knew that God appeared to his wife and said that the older will serve the younger. "I don't want the older to have it." He knew that. What was he doing here? He was trying to subvert or circumnavigate the will of God. He was trying to get ahead of God. He never should have because he didn't die at the age of a hundred thirty seven. He live to be a hundred and eighty (see Genesis 35:28,29). He still had forty three more years. He wasn't ready to die. He jumped the gun. Never ever get ahead of God. He should have trusted God. He should have had patience. He should have waited. So often we just rush out and then we get in trouble.

You glance down this chapter of Genesis 27 and you are going to see savory meat. It's mentioned six times in the King James Version. You're going to see venison mentioned seven times. You're going to see eating mentioned eight times in just this one chapter. Can you see what's happened here to Isaac? His belly has become his god.

Now, Rebekah knew that. What do you if you're a wife and you're married to a man that you used to respect. Are you hearing me? You used to respect your husband, now his belly has become his god, he's not the husband he used to be, there's nothing left to respect in this man. So what do you do? I'll tell you what she did. She took things into her own hands. I think she should have continued to be patient. And she paid dearly for this mistake. We'll discus that in a future week. Let God be in control.

Eaves-dropping Rebekah jumped to her feet. She rushed to Jacob. She had a sinister scheme. She said, "You run out and get a goat and I'll run to the kitchen and start in. Now, we've got to get this birthright for you." Oh, if she had fallen to her knees in prayer instead of running for a goat. Whenever you've got a problem, go to the Lord in prayer. In fact, I think America would be far stronger if we opened our meals with prayer instead of with a can opener. Oh, that we were a people of prayer. Rebekah should have prayed. She didn't pray. She didn't wait on God. She jumped ahead of God. And she set out to deceive her husband.

No wonder she called Jacob deceiver. He was a chip off her old block. Like mother, like son.

And they had a bad marriage. I don't think they ever talked any more. In fact you can read here where she didn't go talk with him. She didn't go talk with her husband. And she didn't talk with God. She had lost her spiritual relationship. They had stopped communicating. He spent all his time with Esau. She spent all her time with Jacob. They were giving each other the silent treatment. Unless you have communication you don't have a great home. You don't have a great marriage unless you have communication.

Well, Jacob went running for the goat. Rebekah headed for the kitchen. She got some cloves, the juice of an onion, a little mint, some sage, some salt, some pepper, some home-made spice, and you would never know that goat wasn't a deer. "I know how to cook, and I will deceive my husband."

Notice that Isaac was deceived by his senses. His sight blinded him, his smell fooled him, his taste failed him, his touch lied to him. Never trust your senses. In fact what should we trust? The sure Word of God is the only thing that can be trusted.

Now, notice Genesis 27:18. He went to his father and said, "My father."

"Yes my son, he answered. "Who is it?"

Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. Well, there are two lies already. There are five lies as you go down through here. "I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat my game so that you may give me your blessing."

Isaac asked his son, "How did you find it so quickly, my son?"

"The Lord your God gave me success," he replied.

Why do we have to bring God into this. Why do we have to use God to validate our sin? That's what he was doing. He was using religion to camouflage his own weakness. You know, sin will suck you in deeper and deeper.

Well, after giving his father a few drinks of wine, Judas-like, Jacob betrayed his father with a kiss. And he actually is a type of Jesus Christ.

You know, when a somebody asked you for a kiss, you don't know what they really want. You've got to watch them. He wanted to smell his son. And Jesus, the greatest Son of Israel who ultimately obtained the ultimate spiritual birthright for spiritual Israel was likewise betrayed by a kiss. Interesting, isn't it.

Isaac's blindness permitted this deceit. In fact, if he would have been able to see, this would never have happened. I think today, moral blindness in America is leading this country down the tubes just like that family went down the tubes. They had so many failures. They were so dysfunctional. And today, we are morally blind and Jesus said in Matthew 6:23, "But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

In fact, Jacob admits his problem in verse 11 (KJV). And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man." He admits his problem, doesn't he. He's a smooth talker. He's a deceiver.

I want you to know that even though Jacob behaved badly, Jacob was the great great....great grandfather of Jesus. And I want you to know that even though you had a past that you're not proud of, maybe you're ashamed of your past, you can still, by submitting yourself into the hands of Jesus Christ you can still become all that He wants you to be. Jacob did. And you can. Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God can still use you. What you must do is submit your life into His hands. Our closing hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord. That's really our goal in life is to let Jesus have His way in us.

I hope you don't miss the other five sermons of Jacob in the next five weeks. May God bless you, and may we meet Jacob in Heaven because he was a forerunner of Jesus Christ.

Hymn of Praise: #565, For the Beauty of the Earth
Scripture: Genesis 25:21-28
Hymn of Response: #567, Have Thine Own Way, Lord



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